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When you’re blessed with a child, there are so many things that come in tow: sleepy little smiles, babbles and giggles, and of course, lots of firsts, such as his first word, first steps, first laughter, and the dreaded first sickness.
No parent wants their child to fall sick, especially when he is still an infant! However, the fact is that small children fall sick quite often, and it’s actually an essential part of their growth. Their immune system is building up strength and memory against the new pathogens that they meet frequently, and will thus provide protection and fewer symptoms of illness the next time your child encounters the same germs.
However, even though children do fall ill frequently, you’re not wrong to be concerned if your little one is out sick for longer or more often than usual, especially compared to his peers. This is the time that you need your home medical box stocked with the best equipment to monitor your child’s health! A good digital thermometer is a must-have when you have a small child, as it will let you track his temperature each time he falls ill, and how his health progresses as he grows older.
Benefits of Using a Thermometer
There are several benefits and advantages to using a digital thermometer.
1. Fast Reading
Digital thermometers can read and record your child’s temperature very quickly – in less than a minute! Meanwhile, classic mercury thermometers can take up to three minutes to record a temperature reading.
2. Temperature History
Some digital thermometers even keep records of previous temperature readings, which can prove to be very helpful if your little one falls sick often, and you want to keep track of his health. The Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer is capable of recording eight temperature readings!
3. Sturdy and Easy to Use
Digital thermometers are not easily breakable, unlike our old, glass thermometers. They are also easier to use, and come with a basic set of instructions to follow. For example, for a temporal artery (forehead) thermometer, all you have to do is gently swipe the probe across your child’s forehead.
4. On/Off Feature
This handy little feature on digital thermometers ensures that room temperature readings are not being recorded (which usually happens with mercury thermometers). This feature also helps to conserve the batteries.
5. No Special Maintenance
Digital thermometers don’t need to be kept in a special box, or have any particular care requirements! Usage and handling is made even easier if the digital thermometer has an automatic switch off feature, such as the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer.
How to Use a Digital Thermometer
All digital thermometers come with a set of instructions on how to use them. Following these steps to the T will ensure an accurate reading, and lowers the chance of getting something wrong.
Digital thermometers measure your core body temperature, and not your skin temperature. They differ based on where on the body they will be used. There are rectal, oral, tympanic (ear), axillary (armpit), and temporal artery (forehead) thermometers available for kids. Of these, it has been shown that rectal and temporal artery thermometers are the most accurate, oral and tympanic ones are mostly accurate, and axillary ones are the least accurate.
For newborns and infants up to 3 months of age, forehead thermometers are best. If your little one is between the ages of 3 months to 4 years, you can use the forehead, armpit, or ear thermometer. Ensure that you use the ear thermometer only after your child turns 6 months old, as before that, his ear canal will be narrow and unable to accommodate an ear probe. If your child is 4 years old or older, you can employ the use of any thermometer.
Rectal thermometers are invasive, and can feel very intimidating to a baby, so use them with caution.
Steps to Use a Digital Thermometer
- Clean or disinfect the tip or probe of the thermometer before use, especially if it is an oral, tympanic, or rectal thermometer. For temporal artery thermometers, you can simply remove the protection cap.
- Turn it on.
- If using a rectal thermometer, lubricate the tip with petroleum jelly. Also apply it on your baby’s bottom. In the right position, insert the thermometer gently about half to one inch into the rectum to record the temperature.
- If using a temporal artery (forehead) thermometer, press down on the button, and gently swipe the probe across the forehead. With the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer, press down on the SCAN button, and swipe gently from the center of the forehead to either the left or the right, towards the hairline. A beeping indicates that a temperature measurement is in progress.
- If using a tympanic (ear) thermometer, gently insert the probe into your child’s ear canal as instructed. Make sure it is positioned well to get an accurate reading. Don’t push it in too far, as it could touch the eardrum, which is very painful. If your child has an ear infection, don’t use this thermometer.
- If you have an oral thermometer, place the tip under your child’s tongue near the back of the mouth. Ensure that you position it as instructed, as it can affect the reading. Ask your child to close his lips (and not his teeth) around the thermometer, so that it will be held in place. Make sure your child does not consume any food or drink 15 to 30 minutes before you take his temperature orally, as this could affect the reading.
- With an axillary (armpit) thermometer, you must put the sensor or tip in your child’s armpit. Hold it in place by holding his elbow close to his body, until a beep or sound indicates that the reading has been taken. Keep in mind that your sick child might be restless and thus dislodge the armpit thermometer, so pay complete attention when using it.
- After the temperature has been recorded on your thermometer, note it down, then switch it off, and wipe it clean for the next time.
Tips on Using a Digital Thermometer
There are certain guidelines, or instructions to follow when using a digital thermometer.
- Clean the tip or probe of your thermometer well, especially if it is a rectal or oral thermometer.
- Read the instruction manual carefully. This will help you get the most accurate temperature readings possible.
- Switch off your thermometer whenever it is not in use, so that the batteries do not wear out.
- Note down the temperature readings, especially if you are tracking your child’s health over a period of time.
- If your child is running a high fever (40 degrees Celsius and higher), contact your paediatrician immediately.
- Don’t drop the thermometer, especially on its digital display face.
- Don’t leave your child unattended with the thermometer, especially is using an oral or a rectal thermometer.
- Don’t store it in a place where your child can easily reach it.
A digital thermometer can be a parent’s best friend when their child is small and still developing. It is easy to use and handle, and lets the parent monitor their little one’s health accurately. However, if your child is sick often, gets a fever frequently, or is running a high fever, you must consult your paediatrician immediately, and get to the source of the illness.