Learn to take the temperature of your child by following the instructions below or by asking your child health nurse, pharmacist, or doctor to teach you.
In older children, you can put the thermometer in the mouth, but in babies and young children, it is safest and best to use a rectal thermometer. The old method of taking the temperature by putting the thermometer in the armpit often gives inaccurate readings, although it can be used in some circumstances.
What sort of thermometer?
Don't use old-style mercury thermometers. Electronic digital thermometers are now well-priced and very safe. If your child is aged between three months and four years, you can either use a digital thermometer to take the rectal temperature or an electronic ear thermometer to take the temperature inside the ear canal. The ear thermometer should not be used in babies younger than three months, as their ear canals are too small.
In children over four, oral temperatures can be taken with the digital thermometer. If their noses are too stuffy and they are mouth breathing, you could use the thermometer under the armpit or use the ear thermometer.
In taking the armpit temperature, remove your child's shirt, so that you can place the thermometer under the armpit without it touching clothing. Then fold their arm across the chest to hold the thermometer in place. Wait for the beep signal that tells you the temperature has been recorded and can now be read.
All material is © Media 21 Publishing, and originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of Good Medicine magazine.