Taking Your Child's Temperature

Tympanic (Ear) Reading

When to use it

This fairly new method of taking a baby's temperature (which can be used on babies 3 months and older) also seems to be the one that parents prefer most. It provides quick results -- in just a few seconds -- and generally keeps kids feeling relaxed and comfortable. However, there are a few drawbacks: tympanic thermometers are more expensive than oral or rectal thermometers and don't provide readings that are quite as accurate.

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.

2. Make sure your child's ear doesn't have excess earwax in it. If so, try cleaning it with a cotton swab without entering the ear canal.

3. Gently put the end of the thermometer in your baby's ear and press the "start" button.

4. Remove the thermometer when you hear the beep or series of beeps (which should be within seconds).

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

6. Be aware that tympanic readings have a tendency to be low. If your child's temperature is above 102 degrees, it's recommended that you take it again orally (if your child is 3 years or older) or rectally for a more accurate reading.

Sources: American Medical Association; American Academy of Pediatrics; The Nemours Foundation

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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