How to accurately take your child's temperature

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock 

When it comes to taking a young child's temperature, the accuracy can vary depending on the method and the quality of the device you're using. 

With newborn babies in particular, it can be very difficult to obtain an accurate reading using some of the more modern thermometers which read the surface temperature of the skin.

CHOICE - Australia's consumer advocacy group - has put together a guide for taking a child's temperature, and says a number of factors can influence the reading of a thermometer, such as time of day, age of the child and where on the body you're taking the reading from.

If you're interested in the best thermometers for babies and kids on the market, then consult the CHOICE ratings (this is paid content so you'll need a membership). It's interesting to note that one of the top three scorers costs only $10, while a model at the bottom of the list costs $120.

Here's a list of dos and don'ts, so you can get the most accurate temperature reading possible. 

DO

  • Discover your child's baseline temperature when they are well.
     
  • Be consistent - always take your child's temperature on the same place on the body, using the same methods.
     
  • Know how to use your thermometer - read instructions.
     
  • Ensure your child stays still when taking their temp.
     
  • If using an ear thermometer, ensure it is inserted correctly.
     
  • If your baby is less than three months old and has a fever, ensure they receive emergency assessment and treatment.

DON'T

  • Bathe your child before you take their temperature - it affects accuracy.
     
  • Take their temperature after eating or drinking.
     
  • Use ear thermometers on infants less than six months old.
     
  • Use forehead thermometers on infants less than three months old.
     
  • Use strip thermometers at all - they're inaccurate.
     
  • Use thermometers containing mercury or alcohol - they are hazardous if they break.