Abdominal Pain - Female
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Animal or Human Bite
Antibiotics: When Do They Help
Arm Injury
Arm Pain
Asthma Attack
Athlete's Foot
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Bed Bug Bite
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Bottle-Feeding Formula Questions
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Breath-holding Spell
Bruises and Cuts
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Circumcision Problems
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Cracked or Dry Skin
Cradle Cap
Crying Baby - Before 3 Months Old
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Cut, Scrape, or Bruise
Diaper Rash
Diarrhea Diseases From Travel
Drinking Fluids - Decreased
Dry Skin
Ear - Congestion
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Emergency Symptoms Not to Miss
Eye - Allergy
Eye - Foreign Body or Object
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Eye - Injury
Eye - Pus or Discharge
Eye - Red Without Pus
Eye - Swelling
Fever - How to Take the Temperature
Fever - Myths Versus Facts
Fifth Disease
Finger Injury
Fire Ant Sting
Fluid Intake Decreased
Food Allergy
Foreskin Care Questions
Genital Injury - Female
Genital Injury - Male
Hair Loss
Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease HFMD
Hay Fever
Head Injury
Head Lice
Heat Exposure and Reactions
Heat Rash
Human or Animal Bite
Immunization Reactions
Impetigo - Infected Sores
Infection Exposure Questions
Influenza - Seasonal
Influenza Exposure
Insect Bite
Jaundiced Newborn
Jellyfish Sting
Jock Itch
Leg Injury
Leg Pain
Lice - Head
Lymph Nodes - Swollen
Medication - Refusal to Take
Medicine - Refusal to Take
Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual Period - Missed or Late
Mental Health Problems
Mosquito Bite
Mosquito-Borne Diseases from Travel
Motion Sickness
Mouth Injury
Mouth Ulcers
Neck Pain or Stiffness
Newborn Appearance Questions
Newborn Illness - How to Recognize
Newborn Rashes and Birthmarks
Newborn Reflexes and Behavior
Nose Allergy Hay Fever
Nose Injury
Penis-Scrotum Symptoms
Poison Ivy - Oak - Sumac
Puncture Wound
Rash or Redness - Localized
Rash or Redness - Widespread
Reflux Spitting Up
Scorpion Sting
Sinus Pain or Congestion
Skin Foreign Body or Object
Skin Foreign Object
Skin Injury
Skin Lump
Sliver or Splinter
Sore Throat
Spider Bite
Spitting Up - Reflux
Stomach Pain - Female
Stomach Pain - Male
Stools - Blood In
Stools - Unusual Color
Strep Throat Exposure
Strep Throat Infection
Suture Questions
Swallowed Foreign Body or Object
Swallowed Foreign Object
Swallowed Harmless Substance
Swimmer's Itch - Lakes and Oceans
Tear Duct - Blocked
Tick Bite
Toe Injury
Toenail - Ingrown
Tooth Injury
Umbilical Cord Symptoms
Urinary Tract Infection - Female
Urination Pain - Female
Urination Pain - Male
Vaginal Bleeding
Vaginal Symptoms
Vomiting With Diarrhea
Vomiting Without Diarrhea
Weakness and Fatigue
Wheezing Other Than Asthma
Wound Infection


Is Your Child Sick?TM

Fever - How to Take the Temperature

When Does Your Child Have a Fever?

  • Rectal, Forehead or Ear temperature: 100.4° F (38.0° C) or higher
  • Oral (mouth) temperature: 100° F (37.8° C) or higher
  • Under the arm (armpit) temperature: 99° F (37.2° C) or higher
  • Caution: Ear temperatures are not accurate before 6 months of age

Where to Take the Temperature

  • Rectal temps are the most accurate. Forehead temps are the next most accurate. Oral and ear temps are also accurate if done properly. Temps done in the armpit are the least accurate. Armpit temps are useful for screening at any age.
  • Age under 3 months old (90 days old).An armpit temp is the safest and is good for screening. If the armpit temp is above 99° F (37.2° C), re-check it. Use a rectal reading. Reason: If young babies have a fever, they need to see a doctor now. New research shows that forehead temps may also be accurate under 3 months of age.
  • Age 3 months to 4 years old. Rectal or forehead temps are accurate. An ear thermometer can be used after 6 months old. An armpit temp is good for screening if it is taken right.
  • Age 4 years and older.
    Safe to take the temp orally (by mouth). Ear and forehead thermometers are also good.
  • Digital (electronic) thermometers are easily found in stores. They do not cost very much. They can be used for rectal, armpit and oral temps. Most of them give an accurate temp in 10 seconds or less. The AAP suggests you replace any glass thermometer in the house with one of these products.

Rectal Temperature: How to Take

  • Age: Birth to 4 years old
  • Have your child lie stomach down on your lap. Another way is on the back with the legs pulled up to the chest.
  • Put some petroleum jelly on the end of the thermometer and the anus.
  • Slide the thermometer gently into the anus no more than 1 inch. If your child is less than 6 months old, put it in no more than ½ inch. That means until you can no longer see the silver tip.
  • Be gentle. There should not be any resistance. If there is, stop.
  • Hold your child still. Leave a digital thermometer in until it beeps (about 10 seconds).
  • Your child has a fever if the rectal temp is above 100.4° F (38° C).

Armpit Temperature: How to Take

  • Age: Any age for screening
  • Put the tip of the thermometer in an armpit. Make sure the armpit is dry.
  • Close the armpit by holding the elbow against the chest. Do this until it beeps (about 10 seconds). The tip of the thermometer must stay covered by skin.
  • Your child has a fever if the armpit temp is above 99.0° F (37.2° C). If you have any doubt, take your child's temp by rectum or forehead.

Oral Temperature: How to Take

  • Age: 4 years and older
  • If your child had a cold or hot drink, wait 30 minutes.
  • Put the thermometer under one side of the tongue towards the back. It's important to put the tip in the right place.
  • Have your child hold the thermometer with his lips and fingers. Don't use the teeth to keep in place. Keep the lips sealed until it beeps (about 10 seconds).
  • Your child has a fever if the temp is above 100° F (37.8° C).

Digital Pacifier Temperature: How to Take

  • Age: Birth to 1 year. Only good for screening. Requires the baby to suck on it, which is not always possible.
  • Have your child suck on the pacifier until it beeps (about 10 seconds).
  • Your child has a fever if the pacifier temp is above 100° F (37.8° C).

Ear Temperature: How to Take

  • Age: 6 months and older (not accurate before 6 months)
  • This thermometer reads the heat waves coming off the eardrum.
  • A correct temp depends on pulling the ear backward. Pull back and up if over 1 year old.
  • Then aim the tip of the ear probe between the opposite eye and ear.
  • Parents like this thermometer because it takes less than 2 seconds. It also does not need the child to cooperate. It does not cause any discomfort.
  • Caution. Being outdoors on a cold day will cause a low reading. Your child needs to be inside for 15 minutes before taking the temp. Earwax, ear infections and ear tubes do not keep from getting correct readings.

Forehead (Temporal Artery) Temperature: How to Take

  • Age: Any age
  • This thermometer reads the heat waves coming off the temporal artery. This blood vessel runs across the forehead just below the skin.
  • Place the sensor head at the center of the forehead.
  • Slowly slide the thermometer across the forehead toward the top of the ear. Keep it in contact with the skin.
  • Stop when you reach the hairline.
  • Read your child's temp on the display screen.
  • Note: some newer forehead thermometers don't need to slide across the forehead. Follow the box directions on how to take the temp.
  • Used in more doctor's offices than any other thermometer.
  • Parents like this thermometer because it takes less than 2 seconds. It also does not need the child to cooperate. It does not cause any discomfort.
  • Caution: Forehead temperatures must be digital. Forehead strips are not accurate.

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