Flushed skin, a sweaty back and a general feeling of discomfort are all tell-tale signs of an illness. These physical symptoms allude to a raised body temperature, but the only sure way to tell if your child’s running a fever is to take their temperature.
There are three types of thermometers: Digital thermometers can be used rectally, orally and axillary (under the armpit), while temporal artery thermometers read the infrared heat waves released by the temporal artery on the side of the forehead. There are also tympanic thermometers, or ear thermometers, that read the infrared heat waves released by the ear drum. But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, digital rectal thermometers give the most accurate readings for children three years or younger.
On the list of least glamorous acts of motherhood, taking your child’s temperature through their rectum definitely makes the top ten. That being said, there are some best practices that make the experience a little more comfortable for your baby or toddler. First, start by cleaning the end of the thermometer with either rubbing alcohol or soap and cool water. Once fully cleansed, apply a bit of lubricant (petroleum jelly works fine) on the end of the instrument so that it goes in smoothly. Finally, with your child tummy-down across your lap or knees to belly on the changing table, insert the thermometer between one half to a full inch inside the anus for one minute for a proper reading.
Believe it or not, though, the hardest part of taking your child’s temperature is finding the best rectal thermometer for your tot. Here are some of the most popular options out there.
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1. Kinsa Quick Care Smart Thermometer for Fever
As if digital thermometers weren’t fancy as-is, this smart thermometer syncs to your smartphone via the free Kinsa app. The app uses your child’s age and temperature to help you better understand their symptoms, offers tips on how they can feel better faster and let you know whether or not it’s necessary to call the doctor (though we highly recommend listening to your gut rather than an app here). Though it sounds almost too good to be true, this technologically advanced tool has been extensively tested and cleared by the FDA.
2. KeenHealth Rectal and Oral Thermometer
The sound of baby sobs is enough to break your heart, so when their eyes are filled with tears, the last thing you want is to wait for answers (and yes, sometimes even just one minute can be agonizing). Enter the KeenHealth rectal thermometer, which measures your child’s temperature in 20 seconds flat. It also offers parents not just one but two digits after the decimal point for extreme accuracy, and if your little is indeed running a fever, the instrument will beep as the measurement is being performed.
3. Purple Safety Baby Digital Thermometer
Purple Safety’s rectal thermometer is one of our favorites if for no other reason than it looks less like a scary medical instrument and more aesthetically pleasing when compared with competing tools. Plus, it’s both FDA and CE-approved, has been extensively tested and exceeds the standards for safety and accuracy. Purple Safety’s thermometer also shows results in just 30 seconds so you can tend to your tot more quickly and efficiently.