Find a Provider
From well-child visits to specialized treatment of complex illnesses and injuries, we offer comprehensive care from an exceptional team of doctors, nurses and allied professionals.
- Parents Home
- Allergy Center
- Asthma Center
- Cancer Center
- Diabetes Center
- A to Z
- Emotions & Behavior
- First Aid & Safety
- Food Allergy Center
- General Health
- Growth & Development
- Flu Center
- Heart Health
- Helping With Homework
- Diseases & Conditions
- Nutrition & Fitness Center
- Play & Learn Center
- School & Family Life
- Pregnancy & Newborn Center
- Sports Medicine Center
- Doctors & Hospitals
- Para Padres
- Kids Home
- Asthma Center for Kids
- Cancer Center for Kids
- Movies & More
- Diabetes Center for Kids
- Getting Help
- Puberty & Growing Up
- Health Problems of Grown-Ups
- Health Problems
- Homework Center
- How the Body Works
- Illnesses & Injuries
- Nutrition & Fitness Center for Kids
- Recipes & Cooking for Kids
- Staying Healthy
- Stay Safe Center
- Relax & Unwind Center
- Q&A for Kids
- The Heart
- Videos for Kids
- Staying Safe
- Kids' Medical Dictionary
- Para Niños
- Teens Home
- Asthma Center for Teens
- Be Your Best Self
- Cancer Center for Teens
- Diabetes Center for Teens
- Diseases & Conditions (for Teens)
- Drugs & Alcohol
- Expert Answers (Q&A)
- Flu Center for Teens
- Homework Help for Teens
- Infections (for Teens)
- Managing Your Medical Care
- Managing Your Weight
- Nutrition & Fitness Center for Teens
- Recipes for Teens
- Safety & First Aid
- School & Work
- Sexual Health
- Sports Center
- Stress & Coping Center
- Videos for Teens
- Para Adolescentes
Taking Your Child's Temperature
When your child feels warm or seems out of sorts, knowing if a fever might be the cause can be helpful.
Here's how to take your child's temperature, safely and accurately.
What Type of Thermometer Should I Use?
Digital thermometers give the quickest, most accurate readings, and are the only kind that doctors currently recommend.
Three types are available:
- Regular digital thermometers are straight with a temperature sensor at the tip and an easy-to-read digital display. They can be used to measure rectal, oral, or axillary (armpit) temperatures.
- Ear digital thermometers measure the heat waves from the eardrum through a plastic probe put inside the ear. These are for use only with kids 6 months of age and older.
- Temporal artery digital thermometers measure heat waves from the temporal artery, a blood vessel that passes just below the skin across the forehead. They can be used for kids of all ages and adults. Temporal artery thermometers made by different manufacturers have slightly different instructions for use, so read the package insert if you use one.
Check the manufacturer's instructions to see what the thermometer is designed for and how it signals that the reading is complete.
Note: Some types of thermometers aren't recommended because they're less accurate. These include plastic strip thermometers, pacifier thermometers, and smartphone temperature apps. Also, don’t use a glass thermometer, as these aren’t safe.
Tips for Taking Temperatures by Age
As any parent knows, taking a squirming child's temperature can be a challenge. The best method will depend on a child's age and how well they can cooperate.
Taking temperature by age:
- Babies younger than 3 months old: A rectal temperature is best.
- Babies 3 to 6 months old: A rectal temperature is best, but you can use a temporal artery or axillary method.
- Kids 6 months to 3 years old: A rectal temperature is best, but you can use a temporal artery, ear, or axillary method.
- Kids 4 years or older: An oral temperature is best if child can properly hold the thermometer under the tongue. If not, you can use a rectal, temporal, ear, or axillary method.
How to take a rectal temperature
How to take an oral temperature
How to take an axillary temperature
Whatever method you choose, keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid taking your child's temperature right after a bath or if they were under blankets or in multiple layers (or swaddled, if an infant). This can affect the temperature reading.
- Stay with your child while you take their temperature.
- Fever (High Temperature) In Kids
- What Can I Do About a Fever (High Temperature)?
- How to Take an Oral Temperature
- How to Take a Rectal Temperature
- How to Take an Axillary (Armpit) Temperature
- Febrile Seizures
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995- KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.