Understanding HOW to use a Thermometer Accurately | Children & Adults

6 Thermometers for Taking Accurate Body Temperatures

There are a number of ways to take a child’s temperature, from using the palm of your hand to using a digital thermometer.

Some are undoubtedly better than others, but which ones are the best, what situation are they best for and who are they best to use on?

We give you the run down on the best children thermometer options here, however click here If you want some detailed reviews on recommenced models.

A Rectal Thermometer

A rectal thermometer may not be your preferred way to take a temperature, but many people swear by them as the most accurate way to get someone’s temperature.

Being the most internal place you can take a temperature, a rectal thermometer does produce very accurate, if not the most accurate results, if used rectal thermometercorrectly.


Rectal thermometers are really best for children younger than three, don’t worry, this is completely normal and is far better than many other options.


If you tried to put a thermometer in a baby or toddlers mouth, they could spit it out or break it, which could be very dangerous with a mercury thermometer, also the baby or toddler may not cooperate or understand and spit out the thermometer or not keep their mouth close or fit it under there tongue, this causes an inaccurate reading.


Make sure to keep and read the thermometers instructions for use and follow them carefully, washing your hands thoroughly before and after using it.  Recommend keeping your little guides inside your first aid kit.


Oral Thermometers

These come in a number of varieties, both mercury and digital, these are fine for use with children and adults, basically anyone who will cooperate and not spit it out and someone who will follow the instructions.


The best variety of oral thermometer is up for open debate, but the difference between readings of mercury and digital should be very small, either should help give you an idea of what is going on, even if there is a fractions difference.

oral thermometers

The best way to use a thermometer is by having the ‘patient’ hold it in their mouth under their tongue from anything from two to five minutes, read the instruction manual for the thermometer.

The ‘patient’ needs to keep their moth closed and not eat or drink during this time, it may also help to avoid using the thermometer twenty minutes or less after they have had a hot or cold drink as this will affect the temperature of their mouth.


It is worth properly washing your hands and thermometer before and after use as not to spread germs.


The Armpit Reading

For parents who have a very young child one year or younger who don’t like the idea of a rectal thermometer.

This method is not as accurate, but will still give you an idea of the baby’s temperature.

armpit readingYou can use either a rectal or oral thermometer and place it under the baby’s armpit, making sure to remove any tops the baby is wearing.


Hold the babies arm across its chest so the thermometer is held in place in the under arm until the reading is complete, follow the same instructions for the thermometer, but be aware that the reading may come out a few degrees out due to it being a more exposed body part.


An Ear Thermometer

ear temp readingA newer for of thermometer, but becoming popular for use of parents with younger children, preferring this over the rectal thermometer and armpit reading, it works on children and adults over three months old.

It provides quick and fairly accurate reading, but it more expensive than most other thermometers.


Make sure the ear is clean before you use the thermometer and wipe it with a clean wipe before and after use.


Forehead Thermometer Strips

A forehead strip is fairly cheap and can work on almost anyone, toddlers, children and adults, but doesn’t produce very accurate results. It is a strip that heats up on your forehead and shows the temperature on a plastic spectrum that reacts to heat from your head.


This method is criticised as not being very accurate due to the reading device being so exposed to outside elements, it is a good first response to your child temperature, but using another thermometer to get a better reading afterwards is advised.


A Dummy Thermometer

A dummy thermometer is exactly what it sounds like, it is a thermometer in the shape and guise of a dummy.

forehead thermometer stripsThis is for taking younger children’s temperatures who may not cooperate with other forms of temperature taking.

The dummy is something they have and enjoy using and are more likely to not fuss with this method, though the results aren’t 100% reliable.

This due to the baby being unable to keep their mouth fully closed, and can’t be told to hold the dummy under their tongue for a full three minutes.

If you’re looking for bath water specific thermometers see here.


A short video walk through on how to take your kid or teens temperature with the appropriate type of thermometer.