How to Read Baby Thermometers

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Most thermometers on the market today designed for babies are digital, and for good reason. The mercury contained in standard thermometers creates a health hazard. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “we advise parents to remove any mercury thermometers from the home to prevent accidental exposure to mercury, which is a toxin,” in the book “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child.” Using digital baby thermometers makes taking your baby’s temperature not only safer, but easier to read as well.

Step 1

Take a rectal temperature by putting on a disposable plastic thermometer sleeve over the tip of the thermometer, followed by a lubricant such as petroleum jelly. Then insert the tip 0.5 to 1.0 inch into your baby’s rectum as she lays face down on your lap. Push the on button to start the thermometer. Remove a rectal thermometer from your baby’s rectum after you hear the finished beep and view the digital screen to read the thermometer.

Step 2

Read an ear thermometer’s digital screen within a few seconds after placing it in your baby’s ear and after you hear the finished beep. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that to get the most accurate reading with an ear thermometer, gently put the tip into the ear canal and then press the start button. Hold the thermometer steady until you hear the finished beep.

Step 3

Read the digital screen of a pacifier thermometer after placing it into your baby’s mouth and keeping it there until you hear the finished beep. If the pacifier falls out, then you will need to start over. Pacifier thermometers may be the least accurate, but are an acceptable option if it is the only way you can take your baby’s temperature.

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