Pharmacy Corner
Fever in Children: Sorting Facts From Myths How do I measure my child’s temperature?

What is the best way to measure my infant’s or child’s temperature?

The best way to measure your child’s temperature depends on his or her age. The preferred areas of for measuring temperature are sorted by age groups in the chart below.

Preferred method of temperature measurement by age group1,13

Age GroupFirst ChoiceSecond Choice
Birth to 2 years of ageRectal (for an exact reading)Armpit (to check for fever)
Between 2 and 5 years of ageRectalEar, armpit
Over 5 years of ageOralEar, armpit

Thermometers

Which is better: Digital or glass thermometers?

Digital thermometers are preferred over glass thermometers because they are more accurate, they are faster and easier to use, and they are safer (for example, if the child bites down on the thermometer). They are also inexpensive and can be used to take temperatures in the rectum, armpit, and mouth.

MYTH

MYTH: Glass thermometers are unsafe because they contain mercury.

Modern-day glass thermometers do not contain mercury and are environmentally friendly. But these thermometers can still break and harm your child if they are not handled carefully.


Caution

Caution!

The Canadian Pediatric Society does not recommend mercury thermometers because of their potential to cause mercury poisoning.13 If you have an old mercury thermometer at home, bring it to your city’s hazardous waste collection facility for disposal.