6 Steps to Taking Your Baby’s Temperature

Pregnancy & Postpartum

taking babies temperature


Motherhood comes with many challenges. Getting an accurate temperature reading on an infant is one of them.

While the idea of taking a rectal temperature is a little scary, it’s important to know why it provides the most accurate reading. The goal of taking a temperature is to assess how warm it is inside of the body. This means that the most accurate measurement will be one taken inside the body. Since your infant can’t delicately keep a thermometer under her tongue, your only option is a rectal reading.

If you follow these six easy steps, you and baby will get through this. We promise.

Select a thermometer. Any digital thermometer will work. Plus, some of the higher-end models can provide an accurate reading in only 10 seconds! If you are using a regular digital thermometer, make sure you know which one is for rectal use for baby and which one is for oral use for adults to eliminate any ick factor.

Prep the thermometer.
Clean the end with rubbing alcohol or soap and warm water. Rinse with cool water. Coat the end with a little petroleum jelly for easier insertion.

Position your baby. Place your baby on her back on the changing table, with her legs bent to her chest, just like you would during a diaper change.

Insert the thermometer. You only need to put three-quarters of an inch to an inch (2 to 2.5 centimeters) into your baby's rectum, or until the tip of the thermometer disappears. Commit! Do not let go of her bottom or the thermometer. It’ll be over before you know it. Something we should warn you about: Inserting anything into your baby's rectum can stimulate her bowels, so don't be surprised if she poops when you take the thermometer out.

Understand the reading. Once you hear the beep, you can rest assured the number on the thermometer is accurate. A baby's normal temperature can range from about 97 degrees Fahrenheit up to 100.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Most doctors consider a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher as a fever.

Clean up. Clean the thermometer with soapy water or rubbing alcohol, then rinse and dry before storing.

See all parenting content from HealthyWomen.org.

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