Body temperature is an important indication of a baby’ overall health. Many mothers still use the palm of their hand to feel their baby’s body. They try to determine if the baby has a fever or not by feeling their forehead or the armpits. Though popularly used, these temperature-measuring techniques are not accurate enough.
To get the accurate body temperature one should use a clinical thermometer. A Clinical thermometer is a must in every household irrespective of whether you have babies or not. You can buy either a standard mercury thermometer or a digital thermometer.
This article aims at educating new-moms in the different methods of measuring a baby’s body temperature.
Five Methods to Measure Body Temperature in Babies
The Axillary Method
This is the first method to take baby’s body temperature. You can use either a standard mercury thermometer or a digital thermometer. The Axillary method involves placing the thermometer in close contact with the skin in places such as the armpit or the groin.
First wipe the armpit properly. Hold your baby still. If you use a mercury thermometer, shake it lightly and ensure that the mercury in the tube is below 95 degree F. For a digital version set to the right mode before you start. Place the thermometer in the armpit and wait one minute for a mercury thermometer and till the beep sound for a digital thermometer. Hold your hand down on the baby’s shoulder so that he does not move.
Temperature between 97.6 degree F and 99.3 degree is considered normal according to the Axillary method. If the reading is around 98.6 degrees F, recheck by the rectal method.
The Rectal Method
This is regarded as the most accurate method to take a baby’s body temperature. Take the same precautions as the first. Place your baby on his stomach and gently insert the thermometer into the rectum. Be careful how you do it. Insert till the silver bulb of the thermometer is unseen. Many recommend coating the thermometer with slight Vaseline for easy insertion. Hold in this position for 2-3 minutes and remove the thermometer.
The normal temperature according to the rectal method is 97.6 degree F to 100 degree F.
The Oral Method
The oral method involves placing the thermometer under the tongue. Though this method is used in infants, it is not usually recommended for children below 5 years of age. A digital thermometer would do no harm. But a glass thermometer containing mercury could de dangerous as children tend to bite.
The normal temperature range is 97.6 degree F and 99.3.
The Ear Method
This method requires that you insert the thermometer in the ear canal. This method mainly uses the tympanic thermometer. The biggest drawback of this system is the baby may not stand still for you to insert it into the ear canal. Thus, it results in inaccurate reading.
If you use this thermometer, use a new probe tip every time. Follow the proper manufacturers’ instruction. Gently straighten the ear to open the ear canal.
The Fever Strip
The fever is flat, plastic like strip with black temperature markings. The strap is pasted on the forehead and within 15-20 seconds it shows the reading as a colored number. This method again only helps you estimate the temperature and does not give accurate readings like the Axillary and rectal method.
When should you take your baby’s temperature?
You should take your baby’s temperature in the following circumstances:
- If the baby’s body feels warm
- If your baby experiences difficulty in breathing
- If your baby is sneezing, coughing or has a runny nose
- If your baby has become suddenly lethargic or irritable
- If your baby feels pale or flushed
If the entire family shares the same thermometer, you should clean the thermometer before and after every use. Keep a separate thermometer for use in the baby’s rectum.