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How to Take an Oral Temperature

Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
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How Do I Take an Oral Temperature?

Taking an oral temperature is easy in an older, cooperative child. Most kids can have their temperature taken this way when they’re about 4–5 years old.

  • Use a digital thermometer. (Don’t use a glass thermometer, as these aren’t safe.)
  • Wait 20–30 minutes after your child finishes eating or drinking to take an oral temperature, and make sure there's no gum or candy in your child's mouth.
  • Place the tip of the thermometer under the tongue and ask your child to close their lips around it. Tell your child not to bite down or talk, and to relax and breathe normally through the nose.

  • Wait until you hear the right number of beeps or other signal that the temperature is ready to be read. Write down the number on the screen, noting the time of day that you took the reading.
  • A reading of 100°F (37.8°C) or above means your child has a fever.
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Reviewed by: Melanie L. Pitone, MD
Date reviewed: November 2022