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Thermometers - which one is right for you?

Fevers. Something every parent dreads. But what do we dread more - the fever itself, or the thought of having to wrestle with a sick toddler to check what their temperature is? And how accurate is that number? Do we add or subtract a degree?

There is so much information out there that makes all of the above so confusing. Let me explain what each different thermometer is, and what the pros and cons are.

Axillary (Under the arm)


- cheap and simple to use

- accurately measures the body temperature

- can be used orally as well

- can be used from birth. In fact, these are what would be used in hospital after Bub is born


- can take a while (up to 30 seconds). This can be a pain for those wriggly older babies and toddlers who hate having their arms restrained!

Tympanic (In the ear)


- Accurate

- Quick and easy to use


- Can be expensive

- Cannot be used under 6 months. If a baby's ear canal is too small, it will give an inaccurate temperature as the probe is unable to go in properly.

Temporal artery thermometer (Forehead)


- Quick and easy to use. Instant reading, can be non touch or light enough that doesn't disturb a sleeping baby.


- Inaccurate. Some brands even suggest taking multiple times and averaging the temperature out.

- Greatly affected by the environment - draft in the room, too cold or hot room temperature, if the baby has been sweating or lying to the side etc.

- Expensive

So in short?

For expecting parents, or those with bubs under 6 months of age, the best thermometer is the simple, basic under the arm (axillary).

If your babies are over 6 months of age, I suggest having either the tympanic (ear) or axillary.

And remember - a fever is a fever, regardless of the number (38 degrees +).

Remember to look at your child as a whole, rather than what the number on the thermometer is saying.

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