Cleaning Baby's Messiest Parts

Taking Rectal Temps

Sticking a thermometer under a baby's tongue in the hopes of getting an accurate temperature reading is akin to asking him to read War and Peace: It's not going to happen. "Rectal thermometers are the best way to take an infant's temperature," says Dr. Eisenberg. "The ear canal is too crooked the first year of life to get an accurate ear thermometer reading." Taking a child's temperature under his arm yields equally inaccurate results.

How to: Lay out a disposable or washable changing pad. It's not unusual for babies to poop after you take their temperature, and you don't need any additional cleanup detail on your roster. Place your baby facedown on the pad and remove his diaper. Clean the area -- a regular wipe is fine -- and put your hand on the small of his back to keep him steady.

Using a digital thermometer, coat the tip thoroughly in a water-based lubricant such as KY jelly. Spread his buttocks apart and insert the thermometer about a half-inch. "If the reading is too low -- below 97 degrees F -- take her temperature again," says Dr. Dull. "A low temperature could indicate a problem, but it's also possible you didn't insert the thermometer far enough."

Now that you know what to do for these tasks, commit them to memory because you'll be doing them for a while. The bright side? Practice makes perfect!

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