Best Baby Thermometers

Best Baby Thermometers

Last Updated: August 24, 2016
Gone are the days of putting a palm to your baby’s forehead to figure out if your little one is running hot.Best Baby Thermometers

Your baby has been out of sorts all day. When she’s awake, she’s fussing. If she naps, she sleeps fitfully. Is she just teething or is she coming down with something? A thermometer can help you gauge how worried you should be by telling you if she has a fever, signaling a call to your doctor might be in order.

Do you need a thermometer?

Gone are the days of putting a palm to your baby’s forehead to try to figure out if your little one is running hot. Keep a thermometer ready and you’ll be able to truly determine if your child needs a dose of medication, to see the pediatrician, or just watchful waiting.

What type of thermometer is best?

Remember the old-fashioned mercury thermometers that you had to hold under your tongue? Those aren’t recommended anymore because they can break and leak toxic mercury. There are much better options on the market now and they fall into these three basic types.

Digital thermometers

Digital thermometers take a minute or less to record a temperature.They can be held under-the-tongue or in the armpit, or inserted into the anus. We hate to break it to you, but taking a rectal temperature is the gold standard for newborns and even older babies and toddlers. That’s because having a baby or small child hold the thermometer still in their mouth is near impossible, and an armpit reading is the least accurate measurement. Before your child is six months old, a rectal thermometer is the only reliable measurement.

Ear thermometers

Quick and generally comfortable, ear thermometers (a.k.a. tympanic thermometers) measure the temperature inside the ear and are safe to use on babies six months and older.

Forehead thermometers

More accurately known as temporal artery thermometers, these thermometers are swiped across the forehead to read the temperature of the major vein located there. It’s an easy, fast and non-invasive way to get a temperature STAT on any child older than six months. For all the convenience though, you’ll typically pay more for this kind of thermometer.

Note about pacifier thermometers: In theory, these sound awesome if your baby uses a binky. But don’t even consider these. Why? Because your baby would have to hold the pacifier still for three to five minutes in order to get a reading. And, unless sleeping, most babies wouldn’t do that. Plus, this type of thermometer is not recommended for newborns.

Below are some thermometers to consider. We hope you find that one of these popular picks works great for you and your family too.

Affordable & Accurate

Safety 1st Gentle Read Rectal Thermometer - $8.99

“We love taking rectal temperatures,” said no one ever. But it is the best way to get an exact temperature reading on your little one. This inexpensive rectal thermometer is shaped so you can’t over-insert it (the number one fear!) and only takes eight seconds to give a temperature reading.


Those eight seconds can seem like an eternity when you’re trying to hold a squirming baby or deal with a bout of screaming and crying.

Smart Phone Sidekick

Kinsa Smart Stick - $19.99

Thermometers just got techie, but this one is anything but intimidating. Just plug the thermometer stick into your smart phone with the provided cable and take your child’s temperature - rectally, orally or under the arm - with the other end. You can even hand the phone over to your toddler to play a bubble-popping game on the phone while she waits. You get the result on your phone in 10 seconds and the free app lets you record other symptoms and notes to share with your doctor later. The app also provides advice based on the fever reading and your child’s age. Even better? It’s powered by your phone so batteries aren’t needed.


Obviously, this thermometer requires a smart phone to use. So anyone who watches your little one while you’re away for a weekend should have access to a smart phone and be shown how to use the thermometer.

Effortless & Effective

Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer MODEL# 2000C TAT-2000C Battery - $27.99

Often used in pediatrician offices and hospitals, a simple swipe across the forehead gives a quick reading with minimal disturbance to your little one. Because of that, we especially like this one for taking temps on a sleeping child. And this is the next best thing to getting a rectal temp.


It takes some practice to get the forehead swipe exactly right. But after that it’s easy peasy. Also, if your child has a sweaty forehead it could throw off the reading. In that case, you’ll need to take the temperature by holding the thermometer behind his ear.

Speedy Reading

Braun Thermoscan Ear Thermometer - $39.88

Super fast results - in two seconds - are generated by this non-invasive thermometer. Unlike other ear thermometers where the cold tip can cool the area leading to inaccurate results, the Braun Thermoscan has a pre-warmed tip so it’s a non-issue.


It might be difficult to get the thermometer in exactly the right position in the ear canal which could give misleading results. Also, if your wee one is suffering from a painful ear infection, trying to go anywhere near his ears could be a problem.

No-Fear Rectal

Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer - $9.99

Because of its bulbous shape, this rectal thermometer is a cinch to hold and impossible to push in too far. It’s made to use on infants and children up to two years old. After 10 seconds, the thermometer beeps indicating that the reading is complete. Plus, it’s waterproof so you don’t have to stress about how to clean it.


Squeamish much? Then a rectal thermometer is going to give you the heebie jeebies.

Choosing What’s Right for You

Remember that the rectal thermometers can be used on newborns, but you’ll need to wait until at least six months of age to use the forehead or ear thermometer and until four years old to use a thermometer in the mouth or under the arm. The right thermometer for you and your family is the one you will feel comfortable using during what can sometimes be a worrisome time. Armed with a thermometer and a good pediatrician, you can rest assured that your baby will get the care she needs when she needs it.