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

How do I take a rectal temperature?

To take a rectal temperature:1,5

  • Lay the baby down on his with his knees bent OR on his stomach across your lap OR in the fetal position on a flat surface (e.g., changing table top).
  • After washing and drying your hands, warm the tip of the thermometer by holding the tip between your thumb and fingers for about 60 seconds.
  • Lubricate the anus and the thermometer with a pea-sized amount of petroleum jelly.
  • With one hand, gently insert the thermometer 2 to 3 cm into the rectum, stopping if you feel any resistance. Keep holding the thermometer in place with your hand, while using the other hand to hold the buttocks closed against the thermometer with your other hand.
  • Remove the digital thermometer when it beeps and read the temperature displayed.
  • Wash the thermometer by removing the petroleum jelly with a clean tissue, clean the tip (the end inserted into the rectum) with warm soapy water, and then wipe it down with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to kill any germs.
Tip

Tip!

Don’t use a rectal thermometer to measure temperatures in the mouth in order to prevent the spread of germs.


armpit temperature

How do I take an armpit temperature?

To take an armpit temperature:1,5

  • Remove your child’s shirt and place the tip of the thermometer in the centre of the armpit.
  • Fold the child’s arm down and hold his elbow in place to make sure the thermometer stays put.
  • Hold it until the digital thermometer beeps, then remove and read the temperature displayed.
  • Wash the thermometer every so often by washing the tip with warm, soapy water.

oral temperature

How do I take an oral temperature?

To take an oral temperature:1,5

  • Place the tip of the thermometer either between the gum and the cheek OR under the tongue.
  • Remind the child not to bite down and to keep his or her lips sealed around the thermometer.
  • Have the child breath through his or her nose while the thermometer is in place.
  • Hold it until the digital thermometer beeps, then remove and read the temperature displayed.
  • Wash the tip of the thermometer with warm, soapy water.
Tip

Tip!

  • Wait 30 minutes after your child has eaten or drank hot or cold foods or liquids.

  • Choose another method of measurement (e.g., armpit or ear) if your child does not want to cooperate (e.g., he can’t keep his lips sealed around the thermometer or the thermometer under his tongue) or if your child is stuffed up and has to breathe through his mouth.