The Best Thermometers for Kids and Families

During cold and flu season, you'll want an accurate thermometer for detecting fever. Here, we recommend five top-rated options on the market today.

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An image of a mother taking her baby's temperature.
Photo: Getty Images.

During cold and flu season, parents should have a reliable thermometer on hand—especially as COVID-19 still spreads across the country. You'll find many different options on the market, but the best thermometers are easy to use and give an accurate reading every time. Here, we rounded up several top-rated thermometers that you can buy from your go-to retailers.

Choosing a Thermometer for Kids

If you suspect your child has a fever, it's important to take their temperature properly. Once you have an accurate reading, you can determine if their temperature is high enough for fever-reducing medication or a visit to the pediatrician.

There are several different types of thermometers on the market. Each one has positives and negatives; the best type depends on your child's age and your personal preferences.

Rectal Thermometer: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests a rectal thermometer for children three years old or younger. That's because rectal thermometers provide the most accurate reading for young kids.

Oral Thermometer: Once your child is 4 or 5 years old, they can handle oral thermometers. Make sure they keep their mouth closed when the thermometer is placed under their tongue; they also shouldn't drink hot or cold liquids for 15 to 20 minutes before the reading.

Tympanic (Ear) Thermometer: These provide quick results—in just a few seconds—and generally keeps kids relaxed and comfortable. However, there are a few drawbacks: tympanic thermometers are more expensive than oral or rectal thermometers, and readings can be thrown off by earwax buildup or improper technique.

Temporal (Forehead) Thermometer: You can choose a temporal scanner if your little one doesn't tolerate other types of thermometers. They're fast and fairly accurate.

The Best Thermometers for Kids

Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer

Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer
Courtesy of Target

It's time to welcome thermometers into the world of smart devices! The Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer works in tandem with an app that you can download on your smartphone. The innovative app keeps track of previous temperature readings, allowing easy recall for several family members. Plus, once you've determined your child's temperature, the app can advise on next steps based on age, fever, and symptoms. As a bonus, you get results in about one second!

Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer

Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer
Courtesy of Amazon

If your little one doesn't want their temperature taken (we've all been there!), the Exergen Temporal Thermometer might be your best bet. One quick scan of the forehead is all that's needed to get an accurate reading from this mercury-free option.

Vicks SpeedRead Digital Thermometer

Vicks SpeedRead Digital Thermometer
Courtesy of Amazon

For a high degree of accuracy, consider an under-the-tongue thermometer for kids. The Vicks SpeedRead is a stand-out. With results in just eight seconds and a color-coded display screen, the user-friendly thermometer makes it easy to take a temperature, even for young kids. The SpeedRead also resists water for quick disinfecting after it's been used.

Braun Thermoscan 5 Digital Ear Thermometer

Braun Digital Ear Thermometer, ThermoScan 5
Courtesy of Amazon

Quick and accurate with a pre-warmed tip, the Braun Thermoscan is among the best thermometers for kids and families. It's a durable choice that uses two included AA batteries, and it comes with plenty of extra ear probe covers—no need to clean the thermometer between uses!

FridaBaby Quick-Read Digital

FridaBaby Quick-Read Digital Rectal Thermometer
Courtesy of Amazon

If you're in search of the best rectal thermometer for kids, look no further than the FridaBaby Quick-Read Digital Thermometer. The short tip is perfectly suited for safely taking a baby's temperature rectally, and a 10-second read makes the entire experience a little less unpleasant.

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