Ask your doctor which method to use to take your baby's temperature. Practice that method before a fever is suspected so you'll know how to take a temperature and read a thermometer.
The normal baby has an oral temperature of 98.6° F. An underarm temperature is slightly lower and a rectal temperature is slightly higher.
When reporting a temperature to your doctor state the method and actual temperature and don't add or subtract a degree for the method.
A digital thermometer is not expensive and provides accurate readings. An ear thermometer, while fast and quite easy to use, is more expensive, often variable in accuracy and is not recommended for children under 12 months of age. Discard old mercury thermometers.
Taking the Underarm Temperature
To take an underarm temperature, slip the digital thermometer underneath your baby's clothes and place the registering end in your baby's armpit. Hold down the baby's arm until the thermometer signals completion.
The Axillary Temperature (Rectal Temperature)
To take a rectal temperature, lubricate the end of the digital thermometer with K-Y Jelly® or Vaseline®. Hold your baby's feet together so that he can't kick and place a diaper underneath in case your baby has a bowel movement. Hold the thermometer between two of your fingers an inch from the bulb and gently insert the thermometer up to your finger. This is a faster and more accurate method.
The medical staff will gladly demonstrate temperature taking if you feel you need any help.
A temperature greater than 100.4 during the first two months of life needs to be reported to your doctor. A low temperature, below 97 degrees, can also signal illness and should be reported.