How to Check Your Child’s Temperature the Right Way
Your little one comes up to you complaining that he’s not feeling well. You instinctively reach out for the thermometer to check his temperature. While this may seem like a standard procedure at the onset of every fever, it doesn’t take into consideration whether the accurate temperature has been recorded. Confused, right? Well, there are different methods of checking the body temperature, and each of these methods produces different temperature readings.
No matter which method you use, it’s important to properly take a temperature. If it is not done correctly, you may be left with an inaccurate reading, causing a delay in taking the right measures like administering first aid or medicine. With little ones, fever can go up in no time, as their thermal management is different from an adult, and so you will need to be careful of high fluctuations in temperature! It’s important to get the precise reading at the earliest so that you know when it’s the right time to call your physician.
Getting an Accurate Reading With a Thermometer
From the correct choice of thermometer to tips to follow while measuring the temperature, we show you how to get it right.
1. Thermometer options
When choosing a particular type of thermometer, follow these instructions to the T!
a. Temporal Artery Thermometers
These thermometers are accurate and the most comfortable option to measure body temperature. The Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer is completely non-invasive, as it employs an infrared scanner to gauge the temperature of the temporal artery within the forehead. All you have to do is press the button and slide the thermometer straight across the forehead, touching it gently, while holding down the button the entire time. The whole reading will take less than four seconds. To make it easy for the user to understand the readings, it displays the results in Celsius or Fahrenheit. This type of thermometer can also be used while your child is asleep.
b. Digital Thermometers
These thermometers utilise electronic heat sensors to measure body temperature. They can be used in the mouth (oral), rectum (rectal), or armpit (axillary). Armpit temperatures are typically the least accurate of the three.
To use an oral thermometer, place it under your child’s tongue and make sure his mouth is kept closed the entire time. Remove the thermometer once you hear the beep.
For a rectal thermometer, you can use lubrication like petroleum jelly to facilitate ease of insertion into the rectum. Insert the thermometer’s tip and wait till you hear the beep.
In case of an axillary thermometer, place the thermometer in the deepest crease of your child’s armpit. Remove the thermometer to check the results, once you hear the beep.
c. Tympanic (Ear) Thermometers
These thermometers use an infrared ray to measure the heat waves emanating from the eardrums. Although accurate, quick, and reasonably comfortable, tympanic thermometers aren’t recommended for newborns, due to their extremely small ear canals. To use an ear thermometer, gently pull back the top of your child’s ear lobe. Place the thermometer’s tip in the opening of the ear canal and press the button until it beeps. Ensure there’s no excess wax built-up in your child’s ear as it could affect the readings. Be careful to not touch the eardrum as it can be painful.
2. Age Considerations
The best method of taking your child’s temperature for the most accurate results will also depend on his age.
a. For babies less than three months old
A temporal artery thermometer or an axillary thermometer is best as they are easy to use. It is advisable to re-check your baby’s temperature at intervals to establish a pattern in case of a true fever. For this, the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer is perfect as it can hold memories of up to eight readings, which will help you make an informed decision on whether you need to see your baby’s paediatrician at the earliest.
b. For a child older than three months
A rectal thermometer (which can be discomforting) or temporal artery thermometer is best for children above three months of age. You can use an ear thermometer once your child crosses six months. An armpit temperature is also acceptable for a quick check and if done correctly.
3. The Time of Day
The body temperature varies, not just when ill, but at different times of the day. The temperature will also depend on various environmental factors. Normal body temperatures are typically the lowest when taken early in the morning just before your child gets out of bed, and will gradually rise throughout the day. The temperature will be the highest in the late afternoons. The paediatrician will help you understand what the best time to check your child’s temperature is. In case they suggest you check it at night, you can opt for the temporal artery thermometer as it’s non-invasive and won’t disturb your child’s precious sleep. Exergen’s Temporal Artery Thermometer also has a soft glow digital LCD display for effectively checking the temperature at night.
Factors That Can Alter the Reading
There are a few things that could slightly modify the thermometer reading, leading to inaccurate results. For example, if your child:
1. Has Been Wrapped up in a Blanket
If your child is wrapped tightly in a blanket or if he is wearing too many clothes, allow him some time to cool off before checking his temperature.
2. Has Just Had a Bath
Wait for at least 15 minutes after your child’s bath before you measure his temperature. This is because bathing naturally increases the normal body temperature.
3. Has Just Had His Meal
Do not measure his temperature for at least 30 minutes after he has eaten anything warm or cold.
4. Is Very Active
Wait for at least one hour till he settles down and cools off. This is because the body heats up after a session of play, leading to false results.
Getting the precise measurement of your child’s temperature sure takes some practice. We hope that these handy tips and tricks will help you check your child’s temperature the right way before you take an informed decision about his health.