In December last year my son had a minor operation and a few days later he looked very flushed and felt unwell. My nurse instincts took over and I made an assessment of his vital signs, which included taking his temperature with my forehead thermometer. This revealed a very high temperature and alarm bells started ringing for me that he might be septic. Off to A & E he went, only to discover that in fact he had a normal temperature and that all was well on his post operative recovery!

I have since looked into how to record a baby’s temperature accurately since this gives such valuable information to parents about a baby’s well being. Taking a temperature is best done using a digital axilla thermometer, placing it snugly in the baby’s armpit until you hear the ‘beep’ to say the recording is taken. Or, alternatively, with a tympanic thermometer. A gentle ear pull is required to straighten the ear canal and the the thermometer probe is aimed towards the ear drum, accurately recording the baby’s core temperature.

Of course, it is always good to look at the whole baby (for example, is the baby feeding well, alert, good colour, passing a good number of weed and poos?) and trusting your parental instincts. Plus, you need to know what is a normal temperature, so that you can act on the abnormal. When you measure your baby’s temperature using an appropriate and reliable method the following are at risk of serious illness and you should seek prompt review by a Health Professional;

  • A newborn baby up to the age of 4 weeks with a temperature below 36.5 or above 37.5 degrees C
  • A baby from 1 – 3 months of age with a temperature of 38 degrees C or above
  • Babies or children aged 3-6 months + with a temperature above 39 degrees C
  • Any baby or child with a temperature less that 36 degrees C

For more information please visit ‘How to take your baby’s temperature’ on the NHS website.