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Put the thermometer where?

Fall is a lovely season, with the cooler weather and the falling leaves.  But as we roll through the change of seasons and back to school, no matter how much hand washing we do, there's bound to be a little sick going around.  Right now, my one year old has an ear infection.  In addition, I'm fairly certain that he's teething, too.  Add to that sleepless nights and I had one fussy bub on my hands this morning.  Halfway through the morning I thought he felt warm, so I headed upstairs to my "getbetter" arsenal to see if I could actually locate a thermometer.  I'll be frank and say that I've never owned a rectal thermometer for the babes.  I feel like it might be dangerous to try to wrestle them to stay still while somehow involving glass (and mercury?, surely not...).  Instead I stock three different type of thermometers for the little ones.  First, the ear scan thermometer, which is useless if you don't have the little covers, or if the battery runs out, or if the child is less than 2 (or3)?  Chuck that one out.  On to the next one, the flimsy digital read out kind that also needs a cover, but I don't use the covers when I put them under the arm.  I push the button and then try to wrangle my moody fussy baby to stay still while I pin his arm down long enough to register some kind of reading.  Result?  95.4°F.  Nope, don't think so...  even when I add a degree it's not even reasonable.  Last, and most desperate, attempt was made with the "binky" thermometer.  Apparently my child doesn't use a binky right because it decided his temp was 95°F.

I gave up.  I have many unreliable ways to guess whether he has a fever or not.  No good ones.  How do you check if your babe has a fever?  I usually end up going with my gut (and feeling their hands -- if their hands are warm it's unusual and means there is a fever).


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I can always tell by my kids eyes. They look glassy when they have a fever. Also, I use touch, usually I can tell just by feeling their backs. If they are extremely hot, I take their temp.

I used rectal thermometers when they were very small. They are not made of mercury and glass.
Hello 2007. :-)

I too was totally wigged out by the whole idea of rectal thermometer too...until my kid got the croup and ended up in the ER one night. After the trauma of that, I realized that it was something I could learn to do.

It was honestly easier than I thought. I bought one from Walgreens that has a smaller tip (to prevent overinsertion) and just goop it up, make like I'm doing a diaper change (ie: hold the legs up together) and gently put it in. My son never squirmed much after the first second, and I got a good reading. I usually only resort to this when he clearly was burning up and I was worried he had a 105 temp or something.

I haven't yet tried it on my 8 month old daughter...hopefully won't need to (crossing fingers).

I'd go with the standards, too. We bought one of those super-expensive forehead thermometers, but it's always been wrong. Case in point -- my 5 year old son had a high fever for the past two days -- it was obvious from feeling him -- but the forehead thermometer always said he was a tepid 97.5. Then, I tried the oral thermometer (he's old enough to deal) and sure enough, it registered 103. So much for the mucha moola one!

We've never had any trouble getting an under the arm temp. ... Although two of us usually do it. For our son the under the arm temp. is usually one degree below what it really is.

A kiss on thre forehead or feel the feeet and hands. Sleeping next to a little radiator is a good sign too. I usually go with my gut, but when it comes to child care/school, and there's an exact temp cut-off (ours is 100), well, a mama's gotta know. We use an udnerarm and hope for the best. I STILL recall the anal thermometer from my own youth and just can't do it to someone else. I hated it.

I don't use a thermometer very often since I don't usually need to know the exact temp on my kids when they're sick. Instead I check for a fever by putting my face against theirs. Can't use my hands because I always have cold hands!

When I do take a temperature, I do it under the arm with a digital thermometer (you have to remember to add a degree to get the "right" reading). To distract my kids when they're little or fussy, it helps to read a book, sway to some music, put a slideshow on the computer. Anything that distracts them from having their arm clamped down!

If this wasn't such a relevant conversation, it would almost be funny. I feel like I have as many thermometers as I have strollers..one type for each of my three kids of various ages. But for the youngest (three months), I'm with Laura that the rectal isn't really so bad. I don't even lube it up. I place her on her stomach and she sticks her little tush in the air and in it goes. She doesn't even protest, just usually tries to push it out so she ends up pooping. The oldest (4.5) is definately old enough for the digital under the tongue variety while the 3 year old gets the digital ear type (although I find it to be the least accurate of the three we use).

I am so not into the idea of a rectal thermometer. We usually go with the old touch method, or the under-the-tongue digital thermometer (both my 5 yr old and 3 yr old are usually fine with it), although I have found, as Lisa mentioned, I really don't need to know the exact temp. If they're warm enough that I feel it necessary to take their temps, they're probably not going to school anyway. If I think they need to go to the doc, our pediatrician doesn't ask for an exact temp when making a sick appointment, and I let her deal with the whole "which thermometer to use" issue anyway (hey--she's a professional).

I have used a rectal thermometer in the past...and it was a digital one. It beeped in 3 seconds and didn't seem to cause too much discomfort. The only time I resort to this is if my dr. has me watching their temperature for any reason. Otherwise I use the touch their backs and look at their eyes method.

Oh yes. When my son was an infant I went through several thermometers only to find that none of them worked that well. Especially the ear one: a waste of money. I found the underarm/digital option the best of the bad options but I'm in the intuition camp. My mom always used to kiss our foreheads to see if we had a fever (and she was a nurse!) saying that the lips are more sensitive than hands. That circumvents the whole cold hands issue and I have sweet memories of my mom's gentle forehead kisses.

I too find my kiss (temp sensitivity of my lips) to be a good gauge of a fever. Fortunately we've had few fevers and only 1 or 2 over 100. Those ones, I could tell. Her hands were hot (which was odd). She just felt hot to me. I checked consumer reports a couple years back and they recommended a digital thermometer (actually, Sponge Bob Sq. Pants was the one they'd tested!) available at Walgreens...so we picked that one up and another they recommended too. One tests in 10 seconds, the other 60 seconds. If she's really got a fever, it's not hard to keep her still for the 60 seconds. We test with each one if we're really concerned, in the armpit (without the covers).--just hold the armpit down well to make sure it covers the thermometer. My understanding is that taking rectal temps are no longer recommended (?). If we feel it's necessary to call the ped., we tell them what the temp was and where we took it (axially--aka, armpit). The really low fevers we don't worry about much.

A kiss on the forehead is my surefire way to first gauge whether our little guy is feverish. I can assess the magnitude of his fever fairly well (i.e., low, medium, or worrisome) He's 20 months old and after battling other methods and imprecise readings we have relied upon an ear thermometer since the early days. The estimates we get are only slightly inaccurate and they're always biased in one direction which means we can track whether he's getting worse or improving and we have enough info to make important decisions (e.g., to call the doc or not).

We use the ear one the most. My son wears hearing aides, so he is totally used to having things jammed in his ears! If you get it in nice and tight, it's pretty accurate. I usually put it in, wait about 5 seconds, hit the button and 2 sec. later it's done. I usually take it 3 times. This in total takes only 30 seconds so I'm totally ok with it. We have the little rectal one and used it twice when he was an infant. Now that he's a toddler, I think he's getting too old for that.

When Mags was still in her preemie stage and I brought her home from the hospital, we had some concerns about her being too cool. The RNs on the phone with the ped's office asked what the rectal temp was. However, as part of the changing and feeding routine in the NICU, I took an underarm temp every 4 hours. I'm glad those days are over.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, that it's sometimes helpful to bring the most used thermometer to the doc's office and compare the home one to the one they use.

I too have gone through my share of thermometer woes! My son (almost 4) at some point became afraid of having the thermometer put under his arm or in his ear and I always felt that I could not get an accurate reading.. with all the squirming :-). I now use the wearable thermometers made by Vicks (avail. at Walgreen's). They come 6 to a box and are little heart shaped stickers that go in the armpit. You just stick them on and leave them there. My son quickly forgets he is wearing one and I can check his temp regularly by just lifting his shirt/arm. I have also found them to be fairly accurate. I work at a hospital and see a lot of sick kids this time of year ... so, my best advice would be to always (no matter what the thermometer says) trust your gut instinct.

I only use a rectal thermometer after a bad experience. When my baby was 8 weeks old he was crying all day. I took his temp using an underarm thermometer and it registered 98. He didn't really feel warm either. Finally after hours and hours of crying I brought him to the ER. They took his temp rectally and it was 103.5. My home underarm thermometer had registered 98 only 45 minutes earlier! He had to be admitted to the hospital and stayed there for 2 days. He was fine, but it was a huge scare. Since then I only use the rectal, as it is the only way to get a truly accurate reading.

The new digital rectals they have in the drug store are very easy to use, the baby doesn't even feel it and they beep in 7 seconds. Even my almost-3 year old can withstand it.

We've tried under the arm (can't get her to hold still long enough) and rectal (which is met with pretty major resistance). We recently got an Oral-B ear thermometer and couldn't be happier. The earpiece nests into the outer ear only -- no messing with ear canals. It takes 2-3 seconds for the reading and beeps when it's done. Our daughter actually likes to get her temperture taken -- she grabs it and tries to do it herself. I understand that they're not totally accurate, but we always take a few readings. (Multiple readings?! Impossible with the other methods.) It gives me the info to gauge whether she's not feverish, running a low grade fever, or pushing into high-fever terrirory. I'd highly recommend it.

I am thankful that I am not the only one who has had thermometer issues! After trying with three different digital (under arm) thermometers, I finally broke down and purchased the forehead one and have been having much better success with that. I too remember the anal therm from childhood and didn't want to go there. I found the key with the forehead one is to gently hold their head to make sure you don't lose contact.

We received the forehead scanning thermometer as a shower gift and it's been great for us. It's never bothered our now two-year-old daughter and it's been consistently reliable. And ditto on the advice above - with the forehead scanner you don't want to lose contact!

EAR THERMOMETERS! I am from Europe so I imagine they do them here? You put it in their ear, press the button and in 2 seconds you have a digital reading. (Sure the child doesnt much like it in their ear, but it is so quick, they dont get a chance to get irritated). My daughter suffured a febrile convulsion (temperature trigged fit) so I got pretty on top of how hot my kids are. It wasnt expensive and is the best.

The advice nurse at our pediatrician only accepted rectal thermometer readings when our child was three months - I don't know if anything would change now that she's older. She said at the time (summer 2006) that other thermometer readings were unreliable.

If our son doesn't have a fever the underarm temp varys between 95 and 98 if he does it's REALLY clear as it rises quickly to 100+. Tip from our doctor was to see how quickly it's rising, if it's low and not rising quickly, your done. If it's 101 and still rising, call the Doc. He said parents get too hung up on precise temps when ultimately the question is fever or no fever and more importantly how is the kid acting, what are their symptoms, etc.

i only use glass rectal thermometers. They are the most accurate.

I have a 5 year old daughter I wonder if you use the thermometer under the arm still? or just under the tongue?

You probably have a better idea of their actual temperature since you have so many different ways to check their temperature. I hope you find what works best for you.

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