Oh no! Your baby’s forehead is hot too touch. Could it be a fever? Before you panic and race down to your doctor you will want to confirm your suspicions. You don’t waste time and money on a doctors trip that didn’t need to happen. That’s where a baby thermometer comes in.
A baby thermometer will give you an accurate reading of your baby’s body temperature. From here you will be able to determine whether you are being an overly cautious mom (nothing wrong with that) or your baby actually has a full blown fever.
The problem is that there are so many different baby thermometers available that it can be difficult to determine which one is right for your baby. That’s where this guide comes in. By the time you have finished reading this guide you will be a baby thermometer expert. Pretty cool, huh?,
Table of contents
Use the links below to jump to your preferred section or keep reading the guide from top to bottom. It’s all great information!
In the guide:
- The best baby thermometers examined
- The different types of baby thermometers
- Buyers guides: Features to compare
- Baby thermometer safety
Best baby thermometers
Below I will examine some of the best baby thermometers on the market. These thermometers are considered the best in their class by moms all over the world.
Best Rectal Thermometer
Gentle Read Rectal Thermometer
Style: As pictured
Brand: Safety 1st
- Reads in 8 seconds.
- Flexible tip.
- Beeps when complete.
- Long battery life.
There are a lot of different rectal thermometers on the market but the Gentle Read definitely comes out ahead. This is one of the best value baby thermometers on the market.
The design is simple, a probe attached to a chunky handle. The handle is thick by design and prevents you from over-inserting the thermometer into your baby’s rectum. The probe itself is flexible, resulting in a slightly less uncomfortable feeling for your baby.
It is important that a thermometer is simple to use and it doesn’t get more basic than this. This rectal thermometer only has one button. On or off.
The screen is backlit, allowing you to measure your baby’s temperature in the dark. The screen will display the temperature, a battery indicator and a fever warning that comes up if your baby’s temperature is over 100.4°F. When the thermometer is turned on it will display the last temperature reading for a brief period.
Once inserted the thermometer will measure your baby’s temperature in under 8 seconds. A single long beep will sound from the thermometer to indicate that it has successfully recorded the temperature. The backlight will then turn on and a small icon next to the temperature reading will remind you to clean the thermometer.
The rectal thermometer is easy to wash and even has a lid to ensure that the probe remains clean and undamaged, ready for the next time you need to take your baby’s temperature.
If you are looking for a cheap baby thermometer that is incredibly effective then look no further. You can check out the price and reviews here.
Best baby ear thermometer
Thermoscan5 Ear Thermometer
Style: As pictured
- Reads in 3 seconds.
- pre-warmed tip.
- guidance system.
- Long battery life.
Remember when I said that most other baby thermometers come with a learning curve that needs to be mastered? Well the Braun Ear thermometer literally tells you whether you are using it right or not.
On the thermometer screen a “POS” (no, it’s not short for Piece Of !@#$) will flash up if you have not positioned the thermometer correctly into your baby’s ear making it almost impossible to incorrectly take your baby’s temperature.
The Braun ear thermometer also features a pre-warmed tip. When a thermometer is inserted into the ear; the cooler temperature of the thermometer itself can throw out the accuracy of the temperature taken. A pre-warmed tip means that the cooling effect the thermometer has on the ear is minimized, resulting in the most accurate result possible.
A flexible tip takes your baby’s temperature in just a few seconds. Quick enough that the thermometer will be in and out of you baby’s ear before he even realizes it.
There is a reason why doctors choose to use this particular brand of ear thermometer, it is incredibly accurate. You can check out the price and reviews here.
Best baby infrared thermometer
Bluetooth infrared thermometer
Style: As pictured
- No Touch.
- Connects to smartphone.
- Easy to read screen.
- Trackable readings.
If you were looking for an incredibly high tech baby thermometer then this is it. At the push of a button you can take your baby’s temperature without even needing to touch him.
Using infrared technology you simply aim the thermometer at your baby (Yes, it feels like you are pointing a gun at your baby, get that out of your head) and squeeze the trigger. The result is that your baby’s temperature will be read instantly. Yep. Instantly. Infrared thermometers are the fastest reading on the market.
If that wasn’t fancy enough for you then you can also hook the thermometer up to your smartphone (an app must be downloaded). Through the app you can keep track of your readings through the use of a calendar or chart.
While the thermometer doesn’t come cheap, if you are a sucker for anything cutting edge then you will love taking your baby’s temperature with this thermometer. You can check out the price and reviews here.
Best forehead thermometer
No Touch and Forehead Thermometer
Style: As pictured
- Reads in 3 seconds.
- Fever warning.
- Easy to read screen.
Yet another Braun product on the list. Braun just seems to keep making amazing thermometers for baby’s!
Simply swiping this thermometer across your baby’s forehead will give you an accurate reading in seconds. The thermometer is incredibly easy to use with the instructions written on the face of thermometer itself.
The interface is simple to use and features two buttons; an on/off button at the base of the thermometer and a green button just below the screen. Simply press the green button as you swipe to take your baby’s temperature.
The screen is large and incredibly easy to read even if you have poor eyesight. A backlight keeps the screen visible for use at night time. The screen even has a built in fever guide. The screen will change color according to the temperature taken.
- Green – Everything’s fine
- Yellow – Slight fever
- Red – Burning up! Looks like it’s a trip to the doctor.
The addition of the fever guide means that you don’t have to remember the safe temperatures for your baby. While the fever guide is not necessary, it is a nice extra.
The Braun forehead Thermometer is priced very competitively offering an accurate temperature reading in addition to the previously mentioned features at an inexpensive price.You can check out the price and reviews here.
Before we continue with the guide I will quickly answer two of the most commonly asked baby thermometer questions.
What is a baby thermometer?
A baby thermometer is a device that measures and displays your baby’s body temperature. Baby thermometers are designed specifically to suit your baby’s smaller size and shape.
Why you need a baby thermometer?
Besides crying and looking into your eyes with a concerned face (which could mean anything), you baby will be unable to tell you that he is feeling unwell. A fever can prove to be dangerous to your baby if left unchecked.
While a baby thermometer is not going to treat your baby’s sickness it will help you to identify it. Knowing is half the battle and with this information in hand you can head down to the doctor for treatment.
Many parents will tell you that baby thermometer is an essential item if you plan on raising kids.
The different types of baby thermometers
If you are a new mother then it may surprise you that there are many different ways that you can check your baby’s temperature. Below we will explore the different types of baby thermometers as well as the pros and cons of each.
Baby Rectal Thermometer
A rectal thermometer measures your baby’s temperature by being inserted into the anus. Yep, you flip your baby onto his stomach and plow the thermometer right up there ( Im kidding, be gentle!).
A rectal thermometer is hands down the most accurate baby thermometer. This isn’t because of the thermometer itself but rather the location that you are taking the temperature. Yup, your baby’s rectal temperature is closest to your little ones core body temperature. Measuring this will give you the most accurate assessment of whether or not your baby has a fever.
Rectal thermometers all look similar to one another. They consist of a probe, an on/off button and a digital screen built into the handle. The screen displays the temperature reading.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of rectal thermometers. I mean; how would you like it if someone shoved a thermometer up your pooper? Using a rectal thermometer is one way to shock your baby.
If you absolutely must use a rectal thermometer, stick to one that has a wide base and flexible tip. This way you will be unable to insert the thermometer to far. Over-inserting a rectal thermometer can cause serious injury to your baby. And it goes without saying that you should wash you’re the rectal thermometer after each use.
Rectal thermometers are cheap but accurate. The problem with rectal thermometers is that they have a high rate of failure. If you talk to a mum who uses rectal thermometers to measure temperature then she will very likely tell you she has had one stop working on her.
- Great for newborns.
- Shock factor.
- commonly stop working.
If accuracy is what you are after then a rectal thermometer is just what your baby needs, even if he might not look you in the eyes after.
Baby Infrared Thermometer
Baby forehead thermometers (also known as infrared thermometers) are one of the newer varieties of thermometers available. Using infrared light; forehead thermometers can take your baby’s temperature without you having to touch your infant.
Lets take that in for a second. Forehead thermometers can measure your baby’s temperature without having to touch him. You will know that a sick baby is a fidgety baby. Taking your baby’s temperature from a distance can be a blessing.
Do not be fooled by the system, forehead thermometers are very accurate and are a popular thermometer amongst many parents.
The one downside to forehead thermometers is that they are one of the most expensive types. If you are on a budget you are better off looking at cheaper baby thermometers.
- Don’t have to touch your baby.
- Incredibly easy to use.
A hands off way to check your baby’s temperature that comes at a price.
Forehead thermometers (also known as Temporal Artery thermometers) use the infra red waves given off by the temporal artery to calculate your baby’s temperature.
To get a reading, the thermometer is swiped gently backwards and forwards across your baby’s forehead.
So how does it work? To put it simply; forehead thermometers read the multiple points across forehead and temporal region (basically; the area between the eyebrows and hairline) The thermometer calculates these readings before giving you a final result .
Forehead thermometers are used in certain hospitals across America. Definitely a validation of how accurate they can be.
- Simple to use .
- Will be inaccurate if baby has a sweaty forehead.
Another popular alternative to taking a wiggling babies temperature
Baby Armpit Thermometer
As the name suggests, you hold this thermometer under your baby’s arm. The thermometer makes contact with your baby’s skin and gives you a temperature reading.
As you can imagine; it can be very difficult to hold a thermometer under the arm of a baby who is sick and irritated. Armpit thermometers are generally only used when you are unable to take your baby’s temperature through any other means.
Armpit thermometers are one of the least accurate ways to measure your baby’s temperature. This is because the temperature read is external. The temperature under the arm can vary 2 degrees or more than an internal reading.
Because of the accuracy, many parents use an armpit thermometer for screening followed by a rectal thermometer. First the temperature is taken with the armpit and if it’s over 99°F a follow up temperature is taken with the rectal thermometer. By doing this parents do not have to make their baby suffer from having his pooper stuffed each and every time his temperature is checked.
Ignore the fancy “purpose made underarm thermometers” these are an expensive gimmick. You can hold just about any regular thermometer that you find in drug stores under your baby’s arm to get a reading.
It is important that your baby’s underarm is free from sweat as it can affect the temperature that the thermometer reads out.
- Can be used for screening before taking temperature rectally.
- Not particularly accurate.
- Difficult to measure the temperature of a wiggling baby.
Best use as a screening thermometer in addition any other thermometer.
Baby Ear Thermometers
Another common option is the ear thermometer. As you have probably guessed, the sensor of the ear thermometer is inserted into your baby’s ear canal and provides an accurate reading. The sensor measures the infrared heat waves released by the ear drum.
Ear thermometers are commonly used in hospitals. They are quick, safe and, most importantly, are not uncomfortable for your baby.
Ear thermometers do come with a learning curve, it is quite difficult to position the thermometer correctly after inserting it. An incorrect position will give an inaccurate reading. This learning curve is easily overcome and once you have the hang of it you will be measuring your baby’s temperature with ease.
Unfortunately; ear thermometers may not be suitable for babies under 6 months. This is because the ear canal is still developing and,is often too narrow to take the thermometers probe.
It is important to note that too much wax in your baby’s ear can also result in the ear thermometer giving an inaccurate reading.
- Reads very quickly.
- Not suitable for babies under 12 months.
- A learning curve must be overcome.
An effective thermometer after its use has been mastered.
Baby Oral Thermometers
Oral thermometers should be the most familiar to you. You simply hold the thermometer in your mouth for a few seconds and you get a reading.
While oral thermometers are suitable for older children they should be avoided for babies. It is next to impossible to get your baby to hold an oral thermometer in his mouth. Your little one is much more likely to suck on it or try to swallow the whole thing.
Save the oral thermometer for when your child is old enough to follow instructions.
- Effective for children that are old enough to follow instruction.
- NOT SUITABLE FOR BABIES!
Save the oral thermometer for use when your child is older.
This is your basic run of the mill digital thermometer that you find in your local drug store. Cheap and commonly available, they can be used to measure your baby’s temperature rectally, orally or under the arm.
While a multiuse thermometer can be used to measure your baby’s temperature in multiple regions of his body, it will be much more difficult to use than a thermometer that is designed specifically for that area. For example; a multiuse thermometer can be inserted too far into a baby’s bottom, causing damage. Purpose made rectal thermometer cannot be inserted too far due to a thicker handle.
If you are using a multiuse thermometer I strongly recommend only using it to measure a single are of your baby’s body. You don’t want to take you baby’s temperature orally after the thermometer has been used rectally. Blargh… gross!
And… The worst baby thermometers
Unfortunately; some baby thermometers are absolutely awful. Do not be fooled by their easy to use appearance, these thermometers are not very accurate. You will regret you wasting your money on these shockers.
Terrible excuses for baby thermometers include:
- Pacifier thermometer – A pacifier that is sucked on and gives a temperature reading of your baby’s mouth. Not only are these grossly inaccurate but some are so poorly made that they are a choking hazard to your baby
- Wearable thermometers – Usually coming in the form of a bracelet, wearable thermometers are very inaccurate due to the ambient temperatures it can come into contact with.
- Temperature stips – A strip that you stick onto your baby’s skin to determine the temperature. These are unreliable at beast.
While I love to try new things, there is nothing worse than buying a baby product only to find it does not do what you expected it to. Stick to tried and true baby thermometers to avoid disappointment.
What to look for when comparing baby thermometers
While there are a whole range of features to consider when comparing baby thermometers; two are definitely more important than the rest… Accuracy and consistency.
Lets face it. If your thermometer isn’t accurate then you might as well be taking your baby’s temperature with a stick. A thermometer can have all manner of fancy features but if it isn’t accurate then it is essentially useless.
Hooray, your baby thermometer takes a perfectly accurate temperature… every ten or so tries. You want a baby thermometer that gives you an accurate reading not only the first time but Every.Single.Time. An inconsistent baby thermometer may cause you to misdiagnose your baby.
If you have found a number of baby thermometers that are both accurate and consistent then and only then should you look at other features to help narrow down your choice.
Easy to use
You want a baby thermometer than can check your infants temperature in seconds. Being a parent is hard enough without fumbling around with a thermometer that is difficult to use.
Easy to clean
Any thermometer that comes into contact with your baby will need to be cleaned after use. An easy to clean thermometer will make the whole process a LOT easier. Avoid thermometers with ridges and other features that can hide gunk and germs.
You want to choose a baby thermometer that is suitable for your situation. You don’t want to ram an ear thermometer into your baby’s ear if he has an ear infection. Likewise a rectal thermometer is a bad choice if your baby has a severe case of diaper rash. With so many different baby thermometers available you should easily be able to find the best solution to take your baby’s temperature.
The emphasis on speed is not as important as it used to be. By and large most thermometers can give a reading of your baby body temperature in under 10 seconds.
To avoid confusion when buying a thermometer; choose one that reads out in your measuring system. If you are American, you want your baby thermometer to read in Fahrenheit. If you reside anywhere else in the world then Farenheit would be confusingly difficult to read. Some thermometers can be switched from Fahrenheit to Celsius at the press of a button.
Some baby thermometers can link up to your smartphone using Bluetooth. They allow you to keep track of your baby’s temperature; plotting it on a graph (similar to a fitness tracker). While in no way essential, the ability to easily measure and record your baby’s temperature will appeal to technology loving parents.
Other thermometer features
The following features are considered “nice to haves”. While they are not the most important baby thermometer features, they will definitely make taking your baby’s temperature a whole lot easier.
- Large screen – A larger screen will make the result easier to read.
- Backlit display – A backlit display means that you will be able to read your baby thermometer in the dark. Especially helpful for taking your baby’s temperature in the middle of the night.
- Completion alert – A completion alert is a sound (like a beep or a buzzer) that lets you know that the thermometer has finished taking it’s reading.
- Memory – A thermometer with built in memory will allow you to recall and cycle through the last few temperatures that you recorded. Great for comparing daily temperature changes.
- Temperature warning indicator – The screen of the thermometer change color to warn you that your baby’s temperature is too high or too low.
Nice to have features often add to the price of the baby thermometer
Baby thermometer safety
Lets take a look at the safety precautions you will need to consider when using a thermometer on your baby.
Throw out that mercury thermometer
You remember those old thermometers where the level of the silver liquid inside a glass tube would tell you the temperature?
What? You don’t remember? They looked like this…
That silver liquid is mercury and it is super dangerous. Mercury thermometers were made of glass which could break incredibly easy. The broken glass isn’t the dangerous part. The mercury inside is a dangerous neurotoxin (a poison that targets the nervous system).
The EPA warns:
Impacts on cognitive thinking, memory, attention, language, and fine motor and visual spatial skills have been seen in children exposed to mercury
Mercury is dangerous and you do not want it anywhere near your developing child. Avoid using a mercury thermometer at all costs!
Clean that thermometer!
Whether it goes in your baby’s bottom, ear mouth or simply touches his skin; you are going to want to clean your baby thermometer after use. Regular cleaning will prevent bacteria and germs from growing. You don’t the thermometer to be the cause of your baby’s sickness; do you?
- Mayo Clinic – Thermometer Basics
- Healthy Children – How to take a childs temperature
- babycenter – How to buy a thermometer
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