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Taking baby's temperature

Elizabeth Keefe


When baby is sick, it's a terrible feeling. Most often, when you call your pediatrician he or she will ask if your child has a fever. It's advisable to take baby's temperature before calling. Many times, however this is easier said than done. There are three common ways to do this. There is the popular digital ear thermometer, the rectal thermometer, and standard thermometer (used in the mouth, or under the arm).

"While the digital ear thermometer is acceptable for newborns, the most accurate reading will come from a rectal thermometer," states Thomas Whalen, a Family Practice physician in Bentleyville, PA. To take a rectal reading, use a dab of petroleum jelly on the tip of the thermometer. With baby's legs elevated, or with baby on her belly, insert the thermometer about 3/4 of an inch. Generally, it takes between 3-5 minutes to get an accurate reading with any type of standard thermometer. However, the digital ear thermometers give a reading within 1-3 seconds. If you are uncomfortable taking baby's temperature rectally, Dr. Whalen advices using a standard thermometer under the arm. "When taking a reading under the arm, remember to add one degree to the reading to get an accurate temperature." You should also make sure to keep the arm down firmly over the tip of the thermometer.

Regardless of what type of thermometer you use, Dr. Whalen further advices taking baby's temperature between 8am and 12 noon, for the most accurate "high" reading. He also recommends taking baby's temperature every 4-6 hours, or as your physician advices.

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