July 02, 2015
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Q: When can I stop using a rectal thermometer to take my child's temperature?

A: It may make both you and your kid a little squeamish, but it's best to take your child's temperature rectally until age 3 or so. That's because it's the most accurate, and with babies and toddlers, even small differences in temperature can affect how serious a fever is or whether to call/see the doctor. But after this age, you can try other types of thermometers, like axillary (under the arm), tympanic (in the ear), or oral (in the mouth). If you go the oral route, make sure your child knows not to bite it, which can skew the results. Whatever type of thermometer you choose, be sure to pick a digital one, which can give you a reading in a minute or less, depending on the brand, which is key when you have a toddler who won't sit still.

To use a digital thermometer, first be sure it's clear of old readings. If your thermometer uses plastic sheaths, place a clean one over the tip and take your child's temperature per the directions. Give your pediatrician a call if your child is under 3 months and has a fever of 100.4 F. or higher, is between 3 and 6 months old and has a fever of 101 F. or higher, or is older than 6 months and has a fever of 103 F. or higher. When you're done, toss the plastic sheath (reusing them can skew the next reading).

Copyright 2009

Answered by Parents.com-Team

Comments (2)

Anonymous
August 11, 2020
Well, my stepmother comtinued to take my temperature rectally until I was at least 14. She also subjected me to frequent large enemas. I know now this was abuse but didnt realize it at the time.I thought every kid had it done that way. The only reason I knew it was wrong was when at the ER once at 12 they were going to take my temp & I naturally pulled down my pants then lay on the bed. The nurse asked what I was doing. When I said I was getting ready to have my temp taken she asked if it was done this way at home. I told her yes and she did the temp. Later social workers came by and asked me all kinds of questions & embarrassed me. I told them I lied & just wanted to try it. After that the temps almost stopped. I still got frequent enemas from her and her daughters till 16 or so. Still dunno why she did all that
Anonymous
August 11, 2020
Well, my stepmother comtinued to take my temperature rectally until I was at least 14. She also subjected me to frequent large enemas. I know now this was abuse but didnt realize it at the time.I thought every kid had it done that way. The only reason I knew it was wrong was when at the ER once at 12 they were going to take my temp & I naturally pulled down my pants then lay on the bed. The nurse asked what I was doing. When I said I was getting ready to have my temp taken she asked if it was done this way at home. I told her yes and she did the temp. Later social workers came by and asked me all kinds of questions & embarrassed me. I told them I lied & just wanted to try it. After that the temps almost stopped. I still got frequent enemas from her and her daughters till 16 or so. Still dunno why she did all that