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Family Matters: Fever


Uh oh! Baby feels warm. Seems to have a fever. She can’t tell you she doesn’t feel good, but she’s fussy, lethargic and doesn’t want to feed.

It’s not easy to know when your baby has a temperature, and it’s really not easy taking your infant’s temperature. Back in the day, you had to use a glass mercury thermometer, rectally, and hold baby really, really, really still to get a good reading.

Those days are over!  Luckily you now have several options for temperature-taking devices.

The Mayo Clinic recommends these:

  • Digital thermometers. These thermometers use electronic heat sensors to record body temperature. They can be used in the rectum (rectal), mouth (oral) or armpit (axillary). Armpit temperatures, however, are typically the least accurate of the three.
  • Digital ear thermometers (tympanic membrane). These thermometers use an infrared ray to measure the temperature inside the ear canal. Keep in mind that earwax or a small, curved ear canal can interfere with the accuracy of an ear thermometer temperature.
  • Digital pacifier thermometer. Your child simply sucks on the pacifier until the peak temperature is recorded.
  • Temporal artery thermometers. These thermometers use an infrared scanner to measure the temperature of the temporal artery in the forehead.

Of course, no matter what type of thermometer you use, read the instructions (everything but the baby comes with them). Clean with rubbing alcohol or soap and warm water before and after each use.

If you plan to use a digital thermometer to take a rectal temperature, get another digital thermometer for oral use. Label each thermometer, and don’t use the same thermometer in both places.

Finally, never leave your child unattended while you’re taking his or her temperature.

TIP: To effectively burp your baby, place them on your shoulder so their tummy balances closer to your shoulder than your chest. You can also place them face down on your thigh. Pat their back FIRMLY  (a lot of new parents make the mistake of not patting hard enough). Alternately rub their lower back, also firmly (make sure their head isn’t bumping into your shoulder or knee). That should do the trick!


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