Choosing The Best Baby ThermometerKatlyn Joy | 5, September 2011
Part of the essentials you need for baby's first aid and health care needs is a thermometer. However, it's not as simple as when your folks needed to take your temperature. Then there was one choice; a simple mercury thermometer. Now there are a number of options for checking to see if your baby has a fever.
- Avoid the old school mercury model. They are too easily broken and mercury is supposed to be disposed of as a hazardous material.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the rectal method of taking an infant's temperature until the first birthday at least.
- While the pacifier thermometer sounds like a simple method for taking baby's temp, they are considered less than accurate for children under 3. Most children at that age will be less than willing to take a pacifier.
- The temporal artery thermometer which is applied to the forehead has gotten mixed reviews regarding accuracy but a study performed by Harvard University found it is reliable especially in younger infants who have rapidly changing temperatures.
- Digital thermometers are overall quite accurate depending on how they are used. They also have the ease of use in reading the temperatures compared to old fashioned mercury thermometers.
- Tympanic thermometers which are used by inserting the thermometer into the ear canal are reasonably accurate with older children but far less so with young infants.
- The best choice is a digital thermometer which is used rectally. The next best option is a digital thermometer used orally if the infant is over 3 months.
How to Take an Infant's Temperature
To take the temp rectally wash in warm, not hot, soapy water and rinse clean and pat dry prior to use. Ensure a rectal thermometer is used exclusively as a rectal thermometer. Apply petroleum jelly to the tip of the thermometer then place baby belly down across your lap. Insert the thermometer about a half inch into the rectum and hold still until the digital thermometer beeps. Stop insertion however whenever you feel any resistance.
To take the temp orally wash as directed above prior to use, and make sure baby hasn't eaten or had anything to drink in the last 20 minutes. Place the tip of the thermometer under the child's tongue and if the child is old enough to follow instructions tell him to close his mouth around the thermometer, but not bite down. Again, wait for the beep and hold the thermometer still until then.
Fever and What it Means
Between the ages of 3 months and 3 years a temperature of 99 to 100.2 or below is considered a low-grade fever. If the child isn't too affected you may want to avoid giving any fever-reducing medicine. The fever is the body's way of fighting infection.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, If your child is fussy and not feeling well, you may give acetaminophen or ibuprofen dosed for infants or children. You should never give a child aspirin. For temperatures over 100.2 you definitely should consider fever reducing medication.
Call the Doctor If...
- Baby is under 3 months of age and has a temp 100.4 or higher.
- Baby is 3 to 6 months old and has a temperature of 101 or higher.
- Baby is 6 months or older and has a temp over 102 degrees and the temp rises or lasts longer than 2 days.
- Baby is 6 months or older and has a temp of 103 or above, no matter if she seems to feel fine.
Symptoms to Watch for with Fever
- Pale skin
- Whimpering cry
- High-pitched crying
- Tugging at the ear
- Loss of appetite
- Headache that seems severe
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Dry mouth
- Wheezing or breathing difficulties
- Sore throat
- Swollen or sore joints
- Stiff neck
- Soft spot on head is swollen
- Fever last for days
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