Digital Baby Thermometer types and their Usefulness

An unwell baby is a heart breaking sight for any parent, especially as due to heightened irritability, baby does not even cooperate in treatment. Now fever is the most common problem a parent faces with a baby and every parent will have their own tale of how difficult it can get to take a baby's temperature.

The conventional mercury based glass thermometers are a bit tricky and risky to use with babies as they can break with a sudden jerk. Thus we will not discuss them here. Also mouth, rectal and arm pits all are no-go zones as per babies. However these are still the places that provide the most accurate reading.

Today we have various types of thermometers available in the market which provide easier ways to take a babies (or an adults) temperature.
    • Touch based Forehead Thermometer
    • In-Ear Infrared Thermometer
    • Nipple Pacifier Thermometer
    • Digital Thermometer

Chicco Infrared Forehead thermometer
Touch Based Forehead Thermometers:

These are the most expensive type and arguably the most in-accurate. The only thing that goes in their favor is the ease of use. In these thermometers the recorded temperature depends on the temporal vein. Some forehead thermometers make you move the thermometer along forehead while some need them to be focused on temple region for few seconds. These are also based on infrared technology.

In-Ear IR Thermometer:

Chicco In-Ear IR Thermometer
In-Ear thermometers are slightly less expensive than forehead thermometers and if used right, far more accurate. These thermometers measure the temperature from the ear drum and thus need to be positioned right to take an accurate reading. Also the cover on the probe which goes into the ear is a small object and may pose a choking hazard for the baby if left unattended. Nevertheless In-Ear thermometers can be a fast way to check temperature of cranky babies and even moody adults.

Nipple Pacifier Thermometer:

Avent SCH540/00 Soother Thermometer
These thermometers are built like a pacifier nipple and the sensor is within the nipple. The accuracy is again not too high as ideally the temperature in mouth needs to be taken from below tongue. Price wise these are fairly affordable but their availability is not too great. I was able to find only a few available online in India from brands like Morrisson. Avent also makes pacifier thermometers, however from online reviews the accuracy is questionable.

Conventional Digital Thermometer:

These are most accurate thermometers of the lot, but the most difficult to use at the same time. A conventional thermometer can be used in three ways:
  • In-Mouth: Good luck trying that with a baby under 2 years of age!!
  • Arm Pits: The most agreeable way for the baby
  • Rectal: Most Accurate but difficult for the baby.
Some people recommend that when measuring from Arm-Pit you need to add 1 degree to the obtained reading. This has been termed unnecessary by each doctor that we have visited. Doctors have said that these thermometers are sensitive enough to get the right temperature even from Arm Pits if used in the right way and for right duration. Please note that for rectal measurement you may need to apply a slight lubricant to the thermometer and take care so that you accidentally do not insert the thermometer beyond what is necessary (1 inch to 1.5 inch max).

We also have a another type of hybrid thermometers which can act as In-Ear as well as Forehead thermometer, but not many companies build these. Westinghouse is one which is available online in India.
Westinghouse 4-in-1 IR Thermometer

The first three types described above have concerns related to accuracy however in times when your baby is sick and very cranky they are good way to give an indicative reading. Thus it may help to have one handy. We use a combination of Conventional Digital Thermometer for regular readings and In-Ear thermometer for indicative reading when tweety refuses to cooperate.

Please share your experiences with use of these types of thermometers or if we missed any prominent type in this article. Have not included mercury based thermometers as they are not recommended to be used for babies.

Happy Parenting and may you never need to refer to this article !!

1 comment:

  1. Every parent knows what best for their little children and for me, I prefer to have a thermometer that won't touch my baby's skin. Children really get irritable when you take their temperatures, but the best way to get the baby's temperature is when they are sleeping. For me Forehead thermometers are one of the great things to have on hand, because it won't touch the baby's skin and it can take their temperature even if they are sleeping. They also give an accurate and quick reading.


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