If you’re still packing one of those old-timey mercury thermometers, measuring your child’s temperature will be inaccurate, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous. By choosing the best ear thermometer, you will rid yourself of these troublesome issues and quickly get your child on the road to recovery.
The 9 Best Ear Thermometers for Kids
When your young child’s forehead is burning up, and they’re crying in discomfort, one of the hardest things to do is keep an oral thermometer in their mouth long enough to gauge their temperature accurately. If you haven’t replaced your old mercury thermometer, you’re also potentially exposing your child to a toxic metal, as well. These issues are why ear thermometers are crucial.
Ear Thermometer Basics
How Does an Ear Thermometer Work?
Ear thermometers measure temperature through a person’s ear, specifically their eardrum. However, some also use infrared to measure the heat radiating off of the skin behind the ear.
How Accurate Are They?
These devices are not as accurate as oral thermometers, which typically are accurate to within 0.2 Fahrenheit degrees. Recording temperature via the eardrum is correct to within 0.4 Fahrenheit degrees.
Can You Use an Ear Thermometer on an Infant?
Doctors typically recommend waiting until your child is six months old before trying out an ear thermometer. A good rule of thumb as to when to use the ear thermometer is if your child is old enough to express evident discomfort when using a rectal thermometer but is still too young to hold the oral kind in their mouth securely.
What Are the Benefits of Using One?
Ear thermometers are typically cheap, can take a temperature in a matter of seconds, and should include an easy-to-read display. They are perfect for when you only get a window of a couple of seconds to dive in and get a reading.
When judging the best ear thermometer, there are four clear areas that matter:
- Accuracy – accuracy and consistency
- Ease of use – easy to read display
- Speed – if it records the temperature quickly
Our results are based on independent research through a variety of online and personal reviews so that we can cast the widest net of potential benefits and concerns. Through this, one model stood clearly above the rest, though all had their strengths.
The Best Ear Thermometers
1. The Best: iProven DMT-489
- CONSISTENT AND RELIABLE - Ear Thermometer with Forehead function (Dual Mode) - the easiest and most practical way to...
- UNMATCHED PERFORMANCE with REVOLUTIONIZED CALIBRATION TECHNOLOGY - Clinically calibrated for medical use. Delivers...
- PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL EQUIPMENT - Trusted by Pediatricians and Medical Professionals, this thermometer is the #1...
Able to take temperatures through either the ear or across the forehead, the iProven DMT-489 is the best ear thermometer on the market today. Its screen is big and easy to read, with a color-coded background based on your child’s recorded temperature – from green for an average temperature to red for one over 100.4 Fahrenheit degrees.
It also takes temperatures quickly and stores them within three seconds of use, while keeping the past 20 recorded readings for perusal in the device’s internal memory. This makes it easy to see whether your child has a fever, as well as whether it’s getting better or worse. With standard accuracy for an ear thermometer, this model is a temperature-reading machine.
The only real downside is the case for this device resembles a plastic bag more than a guard against breakage or damage. Outside of that minor quibble, though, and this product is near perfect.
2. The Smartest: Kinsa Digital Ear Smart Thermometer
- Old Version. 2019 Upgraded Version available now on Amazon
- Kinsa Smart Ear thermometer takes accurate and reliable 1 second digital temperature readings
- Pediatrician-recommended and FDA-cleared for babies, toddlers, children and adults
With “smart” in its name, the Kinsa Digital Ear Smart Thermometer is the smartest device reviewed on our list. It syncs via Bluetooth to iOs or Android devices, as well as connects to Apple HealthKit. This allows you to build profiles for each member of the family and keep their entire history of temperature measurements.
Kinsa also made this product easy to use, with temperatures recorded within a second of the reading. The big, bright display allows you to see the temperature without needing to sync to your phone, in case it’s unavailable, or you need a free hand. While none of the reviewed models are necessarily clumsy to hold, this model feels ergonomic. It’s comfortable, even.
Additionally, this device incorporates some clever features that the non-smart varieties lack. For instance, it advises you on when to give medication or contact your doctor. With temperamental children, you can also enable “Sesame Street” mode, where Elmo’s voice will soothingly and calmly offer emotional support.
3. The Most Budget-Friendly: Vicks Behind Ear Gentle Touch Thermometer
The cheapest reviewed option, Vicks Behind Ear Gentle Touch Thermometer gets the job done, albeit inconsistently. Like the iProven model, this device has an easy to read display with a color-coded background.
Designed to be used behind the ear, this product from Vicks advertises receiving a temperature within a second of being applied behind the ear. In theory, that’s great. In practice, it can be difficult to implement, especially if the child is squirming or upset. Because of this, temperature readings are inconsistent.
Like other ear thermometers, this one will also record previously taken temperatures, storing the last eight attempts in its memory. Due to the up-and-down consistency, though, those eight measurements slots are often used within minutes to discern a suitable, and perhaps accurate, temperature.
4. Innovo Medical Digital Forehead and Ear Thermometer
- DUAL MODE - The only thermometer that you will ever need. Measure temperature via forehead (suitable for all ages) or...
- RELIABLE AND ACCURATE – Clinically tested and proven to be reliable and accurate when used in accordance to...
- QUICK AND EASY - Just press Head for forehead measurement and Ear for ear measurement. Results displayed on screen...
Almost identical design-wise to the iProven model, the Innovo digital thermometer is a close competitor for best of the bunch. An issue with previous models with their unclear labels for the ear- and forehead-modes has been fixed with the 2017 version.
The digital temperature readings for this model were reliable, consistent, and accurate, and come with a visual and auditory alarm if a fever is present. This thermometer can remember the past 20 temperatures, another similarity to iProven.
The biggest problem with this thermometer, though, is its recommended age range. While most ear thermometers are okay for use with children as young as six months, the youngest recommended age for the Innovo is at least a year old.
5. Braun ThermoScan IRT6020
If not for the fact that it has the highest price of the reviewed models, the Braun ThermoScan would be in line for the number one spot on our list.
The unique features are what sets the ThermoScan apart from the rest. Its tip is pre-warmed, allowing for a higher level of comfort for your kid’s ears, as well as more accurate readings. Additionally, a light and beep system guides you in placing the ThermoScan in the exact needed position. At first, this process was somewhat frustrating, but with some practice, it proved to help increase accuracy and consistency.
6. Pyle Bluetooth Smart Ear Thermometer
- INFRARED TECHNOLOGY: The Pyle Health Bluetooth Thermometer is designed for measuring body temperature through the ear...
- LARGE BACKLIGHT DESIGN: Taking readings when your child is sleeping is easy too. The backlit LCD display and mute...
- BUILT-IN MEMORY: This smart clinical portable body temp contact measurement device features a built in memory that saves...
The second smart device on this list, Pyle’s thermometer lacks the consistency, accuracy, and intuitiveness of its competitor from Kinsa. Through its connected app, you can sync temperature information, as well as other health data like height and weight. However, the app will not sync with the Android’s or iOs’ native health tracking app, thus limiting the benefit of its Bluetooth feature.
Despite being a smart device, it only remembers the past ten temperature recordings, half what some “dumb” machines on this last can retain. In testing, the measurements also proved to be both inaccurate and inconsistent, with different readings on each scan.
7. Ankovo Thermometer
- DUAL MODE: Forehead Thermometer (suitable for all ages) and Ear Thermometer function ( only for the child above 3...
- SAFE AND HYGIENIC: Compared to mercury thermometer, there is no danger of breaking the glass or swallowing mercury. Our...
- RELIABLE AND ACCURATE: A maximum of 20 previous readings is available to help you track the changes of your body...
Another model designed similarly to Innovo and iProven, Aknovo’s model falls short in its ability to record temperatures accurately and consistently. Some tests managed to swing four degrees and back on consecutive readings.
This Ankovo model compares to Innovo’s cheap feel, as well. Its plastic casing felt easily breakable, even with just a particularly tight squeeze of the hand.
8. Vive Precision
- INSTANT ACCURATE READINGS: Each thermometer is rigorously tested for guaranteed accuracy. Using advanced infrared...
- ONE TOUCH OPERATION: Detect a fever fast with the thermometer’s easy, one touch scan button. Simple to use, hold the...
- EASY TO READ BACKLIT DISPLAY: Large backlit screen displays temperature readings in Fahrenheit or Celsius, audible alarm...
Functional at best, the Vive Precision Ear Thermometer ranks as one of the worst models reviewed. Its display is one of the largest, but unfortunately, the numbers displayed were often higher than they should be, and the lack of a backlight made them impossible to read in the dark.
Of all the products reviewed, this one also proved the most uncomfortable for kids. The ear tip failed to fit comfortably into the ears of most of the kids tested. Adult testers, however, mentioned it slid easily into their ears.
This model’s low cost was almost enough to push it into the number one ranking for the best budget pick. Vicks’ lower price, however, made up for the similarly unreliable readings.
9. Braun ThermoScan 3
- BRAUN EAR THERMOMETER: Braun ThermoScan 3 is fast, easy & accurate, making it great for checking for fevers in infants &...
- DIGITAL EAR THERMOMETER: Braun's ThermoScan 3 reads temperatures within seconds, to help ensure accurate temperature...
- DIGITAL THERMOMETERS FOR KIDS & ADULTS: With innovative designs & easy to use controls, Braun child thermometers are...
Another offering from Braun, the ThermoScan 3 fails to live up to the expectations set by their ThermoScan IRT6020 version. It’s advertised as fitting kids through adults, but testers found difficulty in getting it comfortably into the ears of their children.
It records temperatures in a second, making it tied with the Kinsa’s thermometer for the fastest reading speed. However, testers found a discrepancy with its consistency because some users received steady temperatures across consecutive readings and others had measurements that bounced up and down.
Comparison Table Information
The good thing about ear thermometers is that they have a high capacity for excellence. The iProven model and the Kinsa smart device are the best choices, with the biggest trade-off being whether you want slightly more accurate results or quicker results with solid app support. However, even if you go with the cheapest thermometer from Vicks, you’ll be getting a model that fulfills its basic responsibilities by helping you take good care of your child.