Thermometer for children: What to choose

An infrared thermometer, earphone, digital, mercury, liquid crystal or Galin Stano What is the best thermometer to measure fever in children? And how do you measure it? And what better to avoid?

Scott? Has he a fever?  What is the best way to measure body temperature for children?

“Let’s first pinpoint a couple of things,” says Antonino Reale, Emergency Pediatrician at the Child’s Jesus Hospital in Rome.

1 –

Fever is a reaction of the body that promotes immune defenses, and must therefore not be considered the number one enemy to fight. It is sensible to measure body temperature if the baby is feeling unwell. Indicatively, if it exceeds 38.5, an antipathetic is administered. But this is not a rule that always applies. Although despite the high fever, the baby is good, it is not necessary to give paracetamol or ibuprofen. Lowering the fever serves to relieve the state of malaise, to make the baby better, and not to avoid the much-feared convulsions for which a genetic predisposition has demonstrated.

2 –

to avoid unnecessary alarm, consider that the 37.2 temperature at the axillary level is not fever, as it is not 38 at recital level.

3 –

To correctly measure the temperature, the baby should not be sweaty, warm and super-covered and the environment should not be too hot. In practice, it does not make sense to do so shortly after it has jumped like a lump on the bed or while it is attached to the hot-air balloon or wearing a sweater over the other. Otherwise, the measurement is unreliable. Keep in mind, too, that body temperature usually tends to be higher in the evening.

“In practice, we need to measure fever when it is needed, in a proper environment and with the best system. That said. However, no system for detecting body temperature is perfect, all of them are critical, but for practicality and reliability I would recommend to the parents the use of the digital thermometer to be used under the armpits, “Reale said.
Infrared thermometer

The best thermometer for ease of use is the infrared thermometer to be in contact with the skin or equipped with a pointer that allows it to use remotely. It takes just a few seconds to measure the temperature. But in non-expert hands, they are not always reliable.

Infrared thermometers have the disadvantage of having a much higher digital cost. A standard digital thermometer does not normally exceed ten euros (but models can found less than five euros). while an infrared thermometer requires an investment Which goes from about 60 euros to the simplest models up to about 80-100 euros of the most sophisticated models.

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Infrared “earbuds”: better than no Measuring the temperature with infrared “earphones” thermometers. i.e., with models that detect fever after being inserted into the ear is a quick but unreliable system. The tympanic membrane can be hot even in the absence of fever, and this affects the reliability of the detection, or the presence of cerumen in the duct may cause a lower temperature. “In the hospital environment, they widely used because they are extremely fast, but in the case of doubt, we still want to make sure the situation is accurate with real acne.”

Digital thermometer (also called electronic)

A freeway to use the digital thermometer to detect fever at home because it also gives a margin of error that is not very significant from a strictly clinical point of view that is, irrelevant to diagnosis. In other words, it is possible that the digital thermometer signals a value of 38.2 degrees and the actual temperature, for example, 38.4: the two-tenths of a further degree, which could be important in, for example, scientific research on Fever, do not matter in the case of a single child. In fact, it is not from this minimal difference that depends on the next way of managing the fever and the hypothesis that the pediatrician can formulate on its origin.

Liquid crystal strips

“Liquid strips” are not recommended, which detect fever after being rested on the baby’s forehead. These are prescriptions that provide incredibly inaccurate results so that specialists believe that the mother’s hand detects the presence of more fever with more accurate stripes.
Mercury Thermometers

Mercury thermometers have retired: they withdrew from trade by a European disposition that has decreed toxicity. However, in some houses they still find themselves. For the baby, do not use because the risk of rupture is high and their mercury content is toxic. Galinstano thermometers are not toxic; they are also economical and reliable: they are more accurate than digital ones, but take a little longer time to detect the temperature. They are quite similar in appearance to common mercury thermometers, but contain inside a capillary a gallium, indium, and pond called “Galinstan.”

How to Measure Fever

The digital thermometer should place under the child’s armpit. It is easy to read, it provided its result in 1-3 minutes and equipped with an audible alarm signaling the detection.

It should not use rectally: this mode is considered too invasive. Although, It can be practical with tiny babies because it is more complicated to keep the thermometer under the armpit time. But there is a risk of getting injuries and keep in mind that the temperature can alter if there is irritation in the sink or if you have just caught it.

Also, avoid oral measurement (under the tongue) because it requires a child’s collaboration that is almost impossible to obtain.

The infrared “contact” thermometer must rest on the forehead, while the remote one should point in the direction of the baby at a distance suggested by the accompanying leaflet. In both cases, only a few seconds needed for detection.


To measure fever at home, we recommend the use of the electronic ashtray thermometer.
Rectal measurement should not be used routinely because of its invasiveness and the discomfort it involves.
Oral measurement not recommended because it may cause the thermometer to break.

Mercury thermometers, besides being unsuitable for the risk of breakage and contact with metal (which is toxic), have been banned since April 2009 with a ministerial decree transposing a European directive because it considered being toxic to the environment and difficult to dispose of.
Measuring fever in other locations (headset, frontal, inguinal) does not offer the same reliability.

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