How to Take a Newborn’s Temperature


Youngin' With A High Fever

The first time a newborn baby develops a fever can be a very scary thing. Fevers are typically signs that a baby’s body is trying to fight off an infection; however, some babies will develop brief fevers after getting vaccinations as well.

This article will discuss how to take a newborn’s temperature, recommended thermometers, and how to recognize the initial signs of a baby’s discomfort.

Symptoms of Fever in Newborns

It is important for new moms to understand the early warning signs of a fever so that appropriate action can be taken. Certain symptoms and behavioral changes should alert parents that a fever may be present. Excessive crying or irritability or unusual discomfort with a diaper or clothing may indicate signs of a fever.

A baby may also seem more lethargic or feel warmer to the touch than usual. Sucking and feeding problems, spitting up, diarrhea, and irregular urination may alert new moms to recognize a problem. Babies may also feel sweaty or clammy or have flushed cheeks. Fevers are actually early warning signs of other more serious conditions like the flu, a stomach virus, ear infection, or pneumonia.

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How to Take a Newborn’s Temperature

It’s important to know how to take a newborn’s temperature in order to get the most accurate results. Taking temperature in the ear does not provide an accurate reading for babies under six months of age. For children under five, moms can place a thermometer in the armpit while holding the baby comfortably on the knee. It’s important to hold the arm against the body to keep the thermometer in place. To take a rectal temperature, parents can place the baby on his or her back with legs bent or tummy down with bottom up.

It takes about 15 seconds to get a reading with a digital thermometer. But certain factors can influence the accuracy of a reading, such as if the newborn has been wearing several layers of clothes, just had a bath, or has been tightly wrapped in a warm blanket. It is important to always clean thermometers before and after use with rubbing alcohol or warm soap and water to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

Thermometer Recommendations

Digital thermometers provide fast and accurate readings, are easy to find, and affordable. These devices use electronic heat sensors to tell temperature and can be used rectally, orally, or in the armpit. Rectal thermometers often give parents the most accurate readings and are designed specifically for this purpose. Recommended models have features that stop penetration at a safe level so that parents don’t run the risk of perforating the child’s rectum.

Another recommended way to take a temperature is to use a temporal artery thermometer. These devices use an infrared scanner to measure temperature from the temporal artery at the forehead and can even be used while a baby is sleeping. These are more expensive options for parents. Pediatricians typically recommend against using digital pacifier thermometers due to accuracy concerns. Knowing how to take a newborn’s temperature is the first step towards your baby feeling better.

How Often to Check Baby’s Temperature

New moms should feel free to check their baby’s temperature as often as it feels necessary to monitor suspected fevers. Try taking the temperature at different times of day since temperate normally fluctuates throughout the day. It is recommended to call a doctor immediately if a newborn’s temperature is 100.4 degrees or higher. This level of temperature in a baby less than a month old is considered to be a medical emergency.

Over-the-counter fever medications, like PediaCare, are typically recommended for infants six months of age or older, unless otherwise directed by a pediatrician. A sponge bath with lukewarm water may help to cool down a feverish newborn, and extra hydration may be necessary to replenish bodily fluids.

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