Temperature / Fever
You do not need to take your baby’s temperature on a regular basis. Do it only when you think your baby may be sick. Overdressing or too hot an environment (e.g., room, car, etc.) can cause your baby’s temperature to go up. If your baby is overdressed, remove some clothing and retake your baby’s temperature in 30 minutes
If you baby feels cool or your baby’s temperature is less than 97.6 degree Fahrenheit, try a putting a t-shirt under a terry cloth sleeper on your baby, or put your baby on a blanket that has been warmed in the dryer. You can also try placing your baby skin-to-skin with you.
Take your baby's temperature if your:
- Baby is especially irritable.
- Baby’s skin is hot, sweating a lot or has a rash.
- Baby's complexion is either very pale or flushed.
- Baby's breathing is unusually fast, slow or especially noisy.
- Baby has a runny nose, is sneezing or coughing.
- Baby's appetite is poor or has refused more than one feeding.
- baby rubs his/her ears, rolls head or screams sharply.
- Baby is vomiting, or has diarrhea or the stool has an unusual color or odor. If there is diarrhea, take the baby’s temperature under the armpit (axillary temperature).
Taking your baby's temperature
An electronic digital thermometer is very accurate and recommended. A baby’s temperature should usually be taken under the armpit (axillary temperature). However, your baby’s health care provider may ask you to take a rectal temperature as well. Tell your baby’s health care provider which way you took the baby’s temperature. Do not use an ear thermometer on newborn babies as it can give an incorrect reading due to the ear canals being wet. You can use an ear thermometer when the baby is about six months old.
For all thermometers, follow the directions that come with the thermometer.
Taking an axillary temperature (under the arm)
- Before taking your baby's axillary temperature, make sure the area under the arm is dry. Insert the end of the thermometer under your baby's arm and hold his/her arm snugly against his/her body.
- Wait five minutes or until the electronic thermometer "beeps" before removing.
Taking a rectal temperature
- Use only a blunt tipped rectal thermometer.
- Coat the end of the thermometer with petroleum jelly.
- Gently insert the thermometer into the baby's rectum, no further than 1/2 inch.
- Hold the thermometer in place until it beeps.
*These are the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended ranges. It is suggested that you discuss this with your baby's health care provider.