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How To Use A Rectal Thermometer

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How To Use A Rectal Thermometer

With many types of thermometers now available in the market, the task of taking an infant’s temperature can become a confusing one. Thankfully, parents can determine which method is most appropriate to obtain an accurate reading according to their child’s age.

For children under 3 years of age, measuring body temperature via the rectum is generally considered the most precise and is the recommended method, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Furthermore, digital thermometers are considered the quickest, safest, and most accurate. It is also advised to avoid mercury thermometers as they easily slip and break, posing a health risk.

 

Method To Take A Rectal Temperature Reading

1. First, make sure the thermometer and tip are clean. It can be washed with soap and cool water, or with rubbing alcohol.

2. Position your child either on the belly across your lap or on a flat surface, keeping your palm along the lower back. Otherwise, you can place him on his back with legs bent upward and toward the chest.

3. Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly or K-Y jelly to lubricate the tip or bulb.

4. Turn on the thermometer and gently insert around ½ to 1 inch into the rectal opening. If there is resistance during insertion, do not force the thermometer any further.

5. Keep a firm grip on the lower back or buttocks to keep your baby from wriggling, while your other hand remains to hold the thermometer until the reading is complete, usually indicated by a signal.

6. Clean the thermometer, then rinse and dry before storing.

 

Tips

An excellent device for taking a rectal temperature reading is the digital rectal thermometer by Little Martin’s Drawer. It will be released as part of a set of infant-friendly thermometers, also including an infrared thermometer, that covers a wide age range. The thermometer set will be released next month.

The normal rectal temperature in babies ranges between 97.2°F and 99.9°F. If the reading is 100.4°F or higher, this is an indication your child has a fever. If he or she resists having a temperature taken rectally, you can first do an armpit reading, and only if the result is over 99°F, proceed to take the rectal temperature for a more precise reading.

For babies under 3 months old, it is recommended to take only a rectal or temporal artery (forehead) temperature. You can use a digital thermometer to take an armpit or ear temperature reading for children above 3 months. By 4 years of age, your child should be able to get an accurate reading with an oral measurement.

If you have any difficulties, don’t hesitate to get a doctor or nurse to show you how to take your child’s temperature.

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  • Agnes Yoon
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