Thermometers for Babies and Children

Methods to take temperature

Children under the age of 6 months should see a doctor if they present fever, however if they are over this age it is not necessary but recommended.

There are 4 main ways to take a child's temperature:

  1. Rectal method (by the rectum or ‘bum’);

  2. Oral method (through the mouth);

  3. Axillary method (under the armpit);

  4. Tympanic method (in the ear).

The correct way or method depends on their age . It's important to note that a measurement should be accurate. For a kid who is under the age of 2 a rectal thermometer is the best way to get an accurate reading. But most children don’t like to have their temperature taken this way. Although taking a temperature under the armpit isn’t as precise, it will let you know whether your child has a fever. If so, you can then take a rectal temperature for the exact reading.

The following chart will help you decide which method to use. The methods are display in order of the most effective.


Our recommended options

1.Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer

In time, being a parent inures you to all sorts of bodily fluids and functions.

However, at first, taking a rectal temperature is scary, especially when panic about the baby’s health sets in. Thankfully, Vicks has created a goof-proof thermometer that is small and easy to hold, thanks to an indented pocket-like groove on either side.

The probe features a short, flexible tip that makes insertion as gentle as possible. There is no guessing if it's far enough or too much. Once inserted, the short, curved body of the thermometer will naturally rest against the baby’s bum.

It takes 10 seconds to read the temperature – in theory. In my experience, it’s closer to 15 seconds. Compared with temporal scanners, this can feel like a long time to wait.

The digital display is bold, clear, and well-sized for the compactness of the unit. When the temperature is ready, the unit beeps several times. My only complaint: To read the temperature, you must press the side button again to re-illuminate the display. The numbers are not legible at a distance if the display is not lit. It’s powered by one LR44 battery, which is included.

You absolutely must clean this thermometer after each use. Cleanup is relatively simple with soap and water, as the thermometer is waterproof. Storage is easy and hygienic with a fitted cap that encases most of the unit.

2. FridaBaby Quick-Read Digital Rectal Thermometer

Fevers and newborns are not a good mix. But, knowing their temperaturre, and knowing it quickly, is. The Quick-Read Rectal Thermometer gives you fast and accurate rectal temperature readings in just 10 seconds. Safe flexible tip and stopper make it parent-proof.    FEVER OR FINE IN A FLASH: Delivers a read in 10 second.

KEEP YOUR COOL: Parent-proof rectal insertion stopper to keep you from inserting too far, and large display with backlight makes night time temp checks easier.

TUSH TEMP: AAP recommends that for at least the first year of baby’s life (though up to three is best), temp checks should only be done rectally. Plus, the parent-proof stopper with an LED light makes tush temp checks worry-free.

​BABY FEVER: BPA-Free and latex free. Plus, water-resistant for easy cleaning.

MEMORY MODE: Memory stores up to 10 previous readings

3. Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer

The Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer is best for infants 3 months and older and as a backup to a rectal thermometer before then. The first thing that strikes you about the thermometer is its heft. It is ever-so-slightly heavier than other models (a good thing) and has a nice, solid wand that makes it easy to grip. The circular probe allows for better continuous forehead contact than other models with pointed and grooved tops.

This model allows for a modicum of user error if it’s not completely pressed against the forehead at all times. That said, it’s important to follow the directions and start in the middle of the forehead and then swipe side to side for the most accurate reading.

Upon repeated testing, the Exergen delivered the most accurate and consistent readings of any model tested. However, it’s worth noting that the variations for most models were very minor – typically a variation of 0.3 degrees.

Second to its accuracy, what I appreciate most about the Exergen is its ability to retake a temperature with no downtime in between. It makes quick work out of taking a temperature three times, something I always do at home. As a postpartum doula, I also encourage my clients to do this to ensure they are getting a consistent temporal temperature reading.

The unit is powered by an included 9V battery and automatically retains the last eight temperatures taken. It’s a useful feature, though I found tabbing through the options cumbersome. There is one central button to run all commands. While it makes the unit streamlined, exiting the settings menu for silent mode and recorded temperatures proved tricky.

I appreciated the silent mode for sleeping, sick kids. And while the soft-glow display is deliberately soft, I did find it slightly dim at times, especially in light of the small display window, which is smaller than most.

4. Braun Thermoscan

The Braun ThermoScan is very popular among parents, providing quick and reliable readings on par with the Exergen when fever is present. Despite its age-based settings, this type of thermometer is only suitable for infants 6 months and older.

In fact, we’ve ranked it No. 1 in this category before. It was surprising, then, that I really didn’t like it at first. I found the readings tested up to 0.5 degrees higher than other models when no fever was present. I also thought its disposable lens filters were wasteful. However – and it’s a big however – when my daughter came down with a horrible case of flu, I found myself reaching for this model over and over (and the Exergen, which is, hands down, now my No. 1 choice in our home).

I felt bad for routinely checking her 103-plus degree fever with several thermometers, but I’m glad I did. The Kinsa, my early favorite, did not register fevers as accurately as it had with healthy temperatures. Braun’s did. The tip was also easier to insert when she was sleeping. It’s worth noting that she and my husband cannot stand anything in their ears and did not like the feel of this, more so than other brands. Yet accuracy reigns supreme.

Other wins: It stays true to its promise of a one-second reading, and you can take back-to-back readings. It’s ready out of the box with 2 AA batteries in place. Those pesky disposable covers? Well, I admit they’re actually very helpful when rechecking high temperatures on an hourly basis.

5. Kinsa Smart Ear Thermometer

Ear Thermometer

Click the picture to view the product.

The Kinsa is beautifully designed, and the app is terrific and very helpful. Readings only take one second and can be done repeatedly. However, accuracy was consistently off by up to 1.5 degrees when registering fever temperatures.

Designed with you in mind, Kinsa Smart Ear digital thermometer is FDA-cleared for safety & accuracy* and doctor-recommended** for all life stages. It gives you a fast, professionally accurate and reliable temperature reading in 1 second, at the push of a button, and is gentle enough to use on a sleeping or squirmy toddler!

Smart Ear thermometer doesn't stop with the temperature reading. It links to your smartphone via Bluetooth and will let you know what to do next when illness strikes! Do you require rest and fluids, ibuprofen, or a trip to the emergency room? The free Kinsa app will give you guidance.

insa helps you understand how to soothe symptoms, when to take meds, or see a doctor. Also, it allows you to track temperatures, symptoms, and medications for each family member. Easily remember when symptoms began, how high the fever got, and be reminded when it's time for more medication. Share the illness record with another caregiver or your doctor. Access your health history across multiple devices.

Download the free Kinsa app on the App Store or Google Play.

Tips for taking temperature

Whichever method you prefer to use make sure to use the correct thermometer for an appropriate read.

To get an accurate reading of your child’s temperature, you’ll need to make sure it’s done right. Here are some tips to help you.


If you are using a glass thermometer, be sure that it is a rectal thermometer (the bulb is fatter than on an oral thermometer).

Clean the thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse.

Shake it so that the mercury inside goes below 36°C (96.8°F).

Cover the silver tip with petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline).

Gently insert the thermometer in the rectum, about 2.5 cm (1 inch), while holding it with your fingers.

After at least 2 minutes, remove the thermometer and read the temperature.


Clean the thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse.

Shake the thermometer so that the mercury inside goes below 36°C (96.8°F).

Carefully place the tip of the thermometer under your child’s tongue.

With your child’s mouth closed, leave the thermometer in place for 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.


Use a rectal or oral thermometer.

Clean the thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse.

Shake the thermometer so that the mercury inside goes below 36°C (96.8°F).

Place the tip of the thermometer in the center of the armpit.

Make sure your child’s arm is tucked snugly against her body.

Leave the thermometer in place for at least 4 minutes.

Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.


Use a clean probe tip each time, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Gently tug on the ear, pulling it up and back. This will help straighten the ear canal, and make a clear path inside the ear to the ear drum.

Gently insert the thermometer until the ear canal is fully sealed off.

Squeeze and hold down the button for one second.

Remove the thermometer and read the temperature.

Check out our Buying Guide for Baby Monitors.​

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