Thermometer Question


My wife and I are expecting our first baby in July and we're registering now. We registered for a basic infant care kit that has a digital themometer in it, but I'd like to have something more convenient. We just finished OB/Newborn in school and were told that rectal temps are avoided now if possible due to increased risk of trauma and axillary can be less convenient. We were looking at the tympanic and temporal artery ones. I've used both before, but not extensively. Any opinions on which ones are good? We've read parent reviews but thehy're very mixed and a lot of the complaints sound like they may be operator error related.



Jolie, BSN

6,375 Posts

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health. Has 37 years experience.

I haven't used the temporal scan thermometers, so can't vouch for their accuracy, but would strongly recommend avoiding a tympanic thermometer for an infant. Without the child's cooperation, it can be difficult to place the tip correctly in the external ear canal, and infants are incapable of cooperating. Even older children may find it uncomfortable, especially if they have an ear infection, which is one of the more common causes of fever in young children.

Having spent 11 years in the NICU, I abhor rectal thermometers, and have full faith and confidence in axillary readings, especially in very young babies who are easy to restrain long enough to get an accurate axillary reading.

Best wishes to you and your wife!

Pediatric Critical Care Columnist / Guide

NotReady4PrimeTime, RN

16 Articles; 7,358 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PCVICU and peds oncology. Has 25 years experience.

I'm 100% in agreement with Jolie about typanic thermometers. They are just too hard to get an accurate temp with even on adults. I've used the temporal scan one a couple of times and although there's a definite technique to using them once you have it, they're pretty easy. Accurate too. (In PICU we have the luxury of using flexible rectal or esophageal probes that give an accurate core temp.)


42 Posts

Specializes in Peds M/S.

I work in a Children's hospital on a floor that has mostly infants, and we do all rectal temps on children under 6 months. *shrug* I haven't heard anything about them being discouraged.

I have used a temporal thermometer in the past, and bought one to use when I worked in childcare, and it worked great. There is a learning curve and it take some getting used to how to work it, but once you learn they are great. I accidentally left mine at the home where I used to nanny, and I still kick myself over that.

Specializes in LPN, Peds, Public Health.

Though rectal are the most accurate from what I have been taught they are being discouraged now due to the possibility of tearing their colon and such...

I don't like tympanic because most babies ears are too small to get it in there right and they fight and move around and we are always teaching the kids "dont stick anything in your ears" then here we come at them with a big thermometer to stick in there. I use a temporal one here in the office and prefer that or just a good ol axilary temp works for me.

One note though, if you ever do take the babies temp and it is elevated, if you call the peds office, tell them the temp that was on the thermometer and tell them which way the temp was taken (i.e. 100 degrees axillary). that helps us out a lot

allnurses Guide

Spidey's mom, ADN, BSN, RN

11,302 Posts

First temps after delivery are rectal. And we do rectal temps on babies who come in the ER.

I've used axillary at home when my children were younger - it is accurate enough to get an idea of a fever or not.

I don't like tympanic or temporal.

My kids will hold a thermometer in their mouths at about 4 or 5 years of age . .. .



25 Posts

I bought this red cross pacifier thermometer for mine (along with the other regular ones)

I took the temperature using both this one and rectal and the pacifier is quite accurate.

The trick is to make sure you hold the pacifier in place.

If your wife is a new mom she could give it a try since its likely that she will want to check the temperature everytime the baby "feels hot or looks sick," at least the poor thing won't have a thermometer on his/her booty 24/7. You can always do the rectal if the temperature is actually elevated.

Brian's wife

2 Posts

Specializes in Peds.

I like the temporal artery thermometers. I use one at work and bought one for home. I love it because it's accurate and the kids either don't notice I'm doing it or actually like it. In fact, my daughter wants me to do it over and over again, whereas she used to scream when I tried the underarm method. Kids don't like being held in position, even if it's not a painful one. We use rectal at work sometimes also, but that was mostly before we got the temporal scan.

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