Special Needs Sunday: Taking a Child’s Temperature Without Hassle

20 Sep

When Jenna was still in the NICU, the nurses taught us to take her temperature under her arm.  I asked them about taking a rectal temp and told them that I had heard this was the “most reliable” temperature reading.  They said that they no longer teach or recommend that parents take temps in this way because there are so many injuries and problems caused with incorrect procedure.  I’m sure a non-cooperative child doesn’t help.  I was personally relieved, because I was breaking out in a sweat just imagining trying to do that with Jenna.  Gross, and OW! and holy nervousness.  I used to break out in a sweat just cutting her fingernails!  I might have passed out if I had to attempt a rectal.

ANYWAY, the digital thermometer that we used under Jenna’s arm still seemed to take forever with a wiggly, impatient child involved.  I started looking for other methods.  I knew about the ear canal thermometers because our pediatrician uses one, but Jenna absolutely HATES having her ears messed with, so I didn’t foresee much hope there.  During one hospital procedure, a nurse used a temporal artery thermometer and told me that the readings are very reliable.  I found one (at Walgreens) that we love.  I couldn’t find info about the brand/type we use online (although I’m sure it’s out there somewhere), but all my online searching pointed toward the highest user satisfaction ratings for the Exergen brand. Exergen answers frequently asked questions here and provides a list of clinical studies of their product and temporal artery thermometry.

Taking Jenna’s temperature is now super-easy.  I trace a line from the center of her forehead to her temple/hairline and within three seconds, the thermometer gives me a reading.  Non-invasive and FAST.  We couldn’t be happier.  It’s even easy to take a temp when Jenna’s sleeping!  The only thing I don’t like is that the reading isn’t backlit, so during the night, you have to either have a flashlight handy, or go into a lit room to read the results.  It hasn’t been a big deal, but it does seem like it would be an easy “fix” for the company on future models.

I’ve read some reviews of complaints of low temperature readings, and the only thing I would say is that it’s important to get a baseline reading when your child is healthy, so you know what “normal” is for your child.  Jenna’s temp always runs “low” compared to the average 98.6, but mine does too.  Jenna’s temp also reads “low” no matter what method is used to obtain it.

Some users have also complained that this method produces inconsistent readings, but we have never had that problem.  Jenna always reads consistently the same for her baseline, healthy readings and multiple temps taken successively when she is sick yield consistently the same results (with only minor fractional variations).

We couldn’t be happier and will stick with this method until something better comes along!

1 Comment

Posted by on September 20, 2008 in Jenna, Parenting tips, Product Reviews, Special Needs


One response to “Special Needs Sunday: Taking a Child’s Temperature Without Hassle

  1. Karen Owens

    September 21, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    This is such a funny topic — Our little guy has temp instability and get septics like every other week so needless to day we are always having to take his temp. We have always had to do rectal temps because many times he will feel cold but his core is burning up. The poor kid gets his temp taken like 4 times a day. I’m always afraid I’m going to give him a complex but it’s the only way to get an accurate reading.

    Our poor kid — Maybe I’ll looking this brand. 🙂


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