Parent Q&A

  • Reliable thermometer recommendations

    (1 reply)

    We have tried a variety of digital thermometers since our boys were born 2.5 years ago, and none have proven to be reliable; the temperature is always off by several degrees.

    Has anyone found a thermometer that stays calibrated and gives consistent readings?

    Thanks so much!

    How about a digital basal thermometer? (The ones women use to track fertility.) They are super accurate.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Need a better thermometer for 16-month-old

Dec 2004

I have a toddler with a fever and a thermometer which I's a ''safety 1st'' the kind that you're supposed to zap into their ear and get an accurate reading...yeah, right! I've never gotten the same reading twice. I've even taken the dumb thing to my pediatrician and he can't even get it to read accurately. So....what's everyone's recommendation for replacing my crappy thermometer? I need something quick and accurate for a wiggly 18 month old. thanks (p.s....I'm sending the same request to my pediatrician also) ~~hot under the collar~~

Unfortunately, I believe the only thermometers which are truly accurate for toddlers are the rectal variety. Everything I've read says that the ear thermometers (all of them) are very unreliable. Whenever I really wanted to know my son's temperature, I just held him down on his tummy (crying and wiggling) for the two minutes it took for the rectal thermometer to read. Karen

There are thermometers that are stickers -- they adhere to the skin under the baby's armpit and can stay there for up to two days. They measure axillary temperature, so you need to add 1 to 1 1/2 degrees (it is such an inexact science anyway, unless you are doing it orally or rectally -- it will at least let you know whether they have a fever and whether it is high-grade). The stickers are extremely convenient for the squirmy toddler and useful until they are old enought to keep one under their tongues. - Liking the stickers

You could try the forehead swipe variety, like They're a little pricey, but Costco used to carry them. David

exergen thermometer!!!!!! can't say enough about how easy it is. and there are doctors from john hopkins and brigham and women's hospitals quoted on the package. suppose to be as accurate as a rectal within one-tenth of a degree. it measures the temperature in the temporal artery by a 2 second swipe on the side of the forhead. easy to do while child is sleeping. i bought ours at walgreens for $50, but then saw it at costco for $30. well worth it. i consider it the perfect gift for new parents. Julia

I reccommend the new kind by Vicks that has ''speed-read'' technology or something like that on the package. I know, I was skeptical too, but it's true-- it takes under 10 seconds to take my son's temp rectally, which makes a big difference from the minute or so it took with the regular thermometer. It costs more (I think about $17) but it's worth it. It also a has thin, soft tip, which makes it easier to insert and seems to bother him less. (I also put a bit of Vaseline on it). I asked my ped. about ear thermometers and she said that they are basically inaccurate for this age unless you have a really really expensive professional one like hers. Good luck! Agnes

We've tried mercury, digital and ear thermometers before we finally found the perfect thermometer - an infrared one. It is called the Exergen TemporalScanner, and you take temperature by scanning the temporal artery on the child's forehead. This technology is fairly new - in fact so new that our pediatrician had never heard about it - but according to a Harvard study it is more accurate than an ear thermometer and at least as accurate as digital. Read the reviews on Amazon. However, don't buy it on Amazon - Costco sells it for much less (currently $29.99, with a sale coming later this month). My two toddlers love it - before we got this thermometer they hated to have their temperature taken and now they beg us to scan them. Some of the people on Amazon reported that they had trouble getting the same reading twice, but we have not experienced this problem. You have to figure out how to properly hold this thermometer and then it is a breeze. (My physicist husband has even used it to measure the kids' bath water temperature - the thermometer sends out infrared light so there is no contact - but I wouldn't recommend doing that ;) scanner fan

Ear Thermometer gives a different reading every time

April 2004

We'd like to get an ear thermometer to use for our 16 month old son (as well as ourselves). When we bought one from the local pharmacy recently, we had to return it, as it gave very different temperature readings each time we tried it (and all low!) We attempted to pull the ear out in the way described in the instructions (cumbersome and we were never sure we had it right). Does anyone have a reccomendation for a good brand that is simple to use and accurate?

We purchased an ear monitor when our daughter (now 4) was small, probably for the same reasons you are interested (ease of use, accuracy). We have been told by SEVERAL doctors, that these thermometers are just not very accurate. It has been recommended that using a regular thermometer under the armpit is more accurate, and most sick children will put up with that. Also, if there is a fever associated with an ear infection, the ear thermometer is not a good idea. If I were you I'd save your $$. anon