Taking Your Child’s Temperature

What temperature is considered normal?

Oral (Mouth): from 97° to 99.8° F.
Axilla (Armpit): from 97° to 99.5° F.
Rectal: 98° to 100.4° F.

How do I take my child’s temperature orally?

This method is best for older children who are able to hold a thermometer in their mouths.

  1. Be sure the child has not had anything to eat or drink for 15 minutes before taking the temperature
  2. Place the bulb end of the oral thermometer under the child’s tongue and have the child close his mouth around the thermometer without biting it.
  3. Leave the thermometer in the mouth 3 minutes, and then read.

How do I take my child’s temperature under the arm?

This is NOT the best method but it can give you an idea of whether or not there is a fever present.

  1. Place the child in your lap
  2. Raise the child’s arm and place the bulb end of the thermometer in the middle of the child’s armpit against the skin. Hold it there while you bring the arm back down.
  3. Hug the child while the thermometer is in place to make a snug seal around it.
  4. Keep the thermometer in place for 4-6 minutes, and then read.

How do I take my child’s temperature rectally?

Use this method with small infants and children or if instructed to do so by our office.

  1. Place the child on his back or belly.
  2. Open the diaper and leave it under the baby.
  3. Have a clean diaper and wipes handy.
  4. Dip the bulb of the thermometer in a small amount of petroleum jelly.
  5. Insert the bulb of the thermometer into the rectal opening about 1 inch.
  6. Hold the thermometer carefully in place for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Remove the thermometer; wipe it clean with a tissue and read.

Be sure to clean the used thermometer with cool soapy water and air-dry.