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Taking Baby's Temperature

  • Immediately read and record the temperature.

  • Disinfect the thermometer with rubbing alcohol or an antiseptic solution.


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that you not use the axillary method for babies under 3 months of age, when an accurate reading is most important. To take your baby's axillary temperature:

  • Clean the thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse. If you are using a digital thermometer with disposable sleeves, apply a fresh sleeve.

  • Remove your baby's shirt; the thermometer must be placed against skin, not clothing.

  • Place the tip of the thermometer in the center of your child's armpit.

  • Tuck your child's arm snugly against his body.

  • Leave the thermometer in place for at least 3 to 5 minutes or until a digital thermometer beeps.

  • Remove the thermometer, read, and record the temperature.

  • Clean the thermometer.

If your child is under 2 years old and you find a fever when taking the temperature under the arm, confirm it by taking a rectal temperature. An axillary reading can be up to 2 degrees lower than an internal rectal reading.


Ear thermometers are generally used in urgent care centers because they're quick and painless. Ear thermometers measure the thermal radiation coming from the ear drum and the ear canal. Since the ear drum's blood supply is very similar in temperature and location to the blood in the brain, this method is an ideal location from which to get an estimation of body temperature. However, they are a little more difficult to use correctly than other thermometers, and if you don't insert the ear thermometer exactly right, it can be hard to get an accurate, consistent reading.

  • Use a clean probe tip each time, and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

  • Gently tug on the ear, pulling it back. This will help straighten the ear canal, and make a clear path inside the ear to the ear drum.

  • Gently insert the thermometer until the ear canal is fully sealed off.

  • Squeeze and hold down the button for one second.

  • Remove the digital thermometer and read the temperature.

Having an accurate temperature is important when your baby is ill because it can determine the doctor's course of treatment and ensure effective and immediate care.

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