Taking Your Child's Temperature

Oral Reading

When to use it

Once your child is 4 or 5 years of age, this is usually the most preferable method of taking his temperature. It offers a more accurate temperature than ear or axillary readings.

How to do it

1. Read the directions that came with the thermometer so that you know which beep (or series of beeps) is a sign that the thermometer is finished reading. Turn it on and check that the screen is clear of any previous readings.

2. Clean the thermometer with lukewarm soapy water or rubbing alcohol. Rinse with cool water. Cover the thermometer tip with a disposable plastic shield, if you have one available.

3. Make sure that your child's mouth is clear of candy, gum, or food. If your child has recently had a hot or cold drink, wait 15 minutes before taking her temperature.

4. Place the thermometer tip under your child's tongue, towards the back of his mouth, and tell her to close her lips around it. Remind her not to bite the thermometer or talk while the thermometer is in her mouth. Make sure she's breathing normally through her nose.

5. Hold it in place for about one minute, until you hear the beep or series of beeps that indicates that the reading is complete.

6. Remove the thermometer to check the digital reading. Record the temperature and the time of day it was taken in case you need to inform the pediatrician.

7. If you used a disposable plastic sleeve, discard it right away. Clean the thermometer, replace it in its case, and mark the case "oral" -- it's easy to grab a rectal thermometer by accident if you're tired or it's dark in the room.

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