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Taking Baby's Temperature

Never take your baby's temperature right after he has had a bath. Crying may also raise a baby's temperature. If your baby's temperature is high, check to make sure he is not over-dressed or bundled with blankets. If you think his temperature may be incorrectly elevated, remove layers of clothing or calm him, wait 30 minutes and retake his temperature.

A normal body temperature depends on how you take the temperature:

  • Rectal: 97.9 to 100.4 F (36.6 to 38 C)

  • Armpit: 94.5 to 99.1 F (34.7 to 37.3 C)

  • Ear: 96.4 to 100.4 F (35.8 to 38 C)

  • Mouth: 95.9 to 99.5 F (35.5 to 37.5 C)

  • If your baby has a rectal temperature of over 100.4 degrees F (38 C), call your doctor immediately.


Experts recommend taking your baby's temperature rectally until he or she is at least 3 months old because a correct reading is most important when your baby's little. To take your baby's temperature rectally:

  • Lubricate the end of the thermometer with a water-soluble lubricant or petroleum jelly.

  • Place your baby face down across your lap or on the changing table. Place your hand nearest your baby's head on his lower back and separate his buttocks with your thumb and forefinger.

  • With your other hand, gently insert the lubricated end of the thermometer, no more than one-half to one inch, or just past the anal sphincter muscle.

  • The thermometer should be pointed down towards your baby's naval.

  • Hold the thermometer in place loosely with two fingers, keeping your hand cupped around your child's bottom. Use your other hand to comfort and prevent your baby from moving around.

  • Hold the thermometer in place for 2 minutes or until the thermometer beeps.

  • Remove the thermometer and wipe the bulb. (Don't be surprised if your baby poops when you remove the thermometer; placing anything in your baby's rectum can stimulate his bowels.)

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