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Baby thermometer buying guide

Explore brands that are safe, affordable and easy to use.

Modern thermometers allow you to take temperatures with minimal contact or without any contact at all, making them perfect for a sleeping or sensitive child. Compare a few top options to find the best pick for your little ones.

Compare some of the best baby thermometers

Find the thermometer in your price range that meets your needs.

NameAvg. priceTypeReading timePurchase
Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer$25Rectal10.7 secondsBuy now
Dr. Madre Digital Infrared Forehead Thermometer$35Infrared1 secondBuy now
Exergen Temporal Scan Forehead Artery Baby Thermometer$25Infrared1 secondBuy now
Braun Digital Ear Thermometer ThermoScan 5$40Ear2 secondsBuy now
Kinsa QuickCare Smart Thermometer$20Oral, armpit or rectal8 secondsBuy now
Simplife Baby Forehead Thermometer with Ear Function$30Infrared with ear function1 secondBuy now
OCCObaby Clinical Digital Baby Thermometer$10Oral and rectal10 secondsBuy now
Data obtained April 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Types of thermometers

The advantages and disadvantages of the five thermometer options are outlined for you here:

Infrared (non-contact or forehead)
  • Noncontact options available
  • Hygienic and fast
  • Expensive
  • May have to measure two or three times to get an average
Oral (mouth)
  • Good indicator of body’s central temperature
  • Easy for older children
  • Harder with younger children, particularly under four years
  • Can be inaccurate after eating and drinking
Axillary (armpit)
  • Simple
  • Noninvasive
  • Less accurate
  • Slower measurement speed
Tympanic (ear)
  • Fast
  • Accurate
  • Can’t be used if child has an ear infection
  • Invasive
  • Accurate
  • Able to be used on babies
  • Invasive and uncomfortable
  • Can be unhygienic

What are infrared baby thermometers?

Infrared thermometers, also known as forehead thermometers, touchless thermometers or temporal artery thermometers, measure temperature by tracking the level of thermal and infrared radiation emitted from arteries and blood vessels in the head.

You can take readings one of three ways, depending on the style of thermometer:

  1. Pointing the thermometer at the forehead and clicking the activation button.
  2. Lightly swiping the thermometer across the forehead.
  3. Gently pressing the temperature probe to the temple.

Taking a heat reading this way means that these thermometers don’t need extended contact with the child.

There are two main types of infrared thermometers available:

  • Noncontact, or touchless, thermometers. These “point and shoot” thermometers deliver readings in a matter of seconds. They are generally the most expensive option on the market, but are popular because they are noninvasive, fast and easy to use.
  • Forehead thermometers. These also rely on infrared readings, but require swiping, scanning or placing the thermometer somewhere on the forehead. You should check that your child’s forehead is dry before using this kind of thermometer, as sweat or bath water can impact a reading.

Other infrared thermometers

Infrared thermometers can also refer to laser thermometers or temperature guns, often used for industrial purposes or in cooking. They all operate using similar technology, but lasers and guns are bigger, more expensive pieces of equipment. It’s easy to accidentally find yourself on a hardware store’s website when you’re searching for these baby products.

How to compare baby thermometers

Basic thermometers start at around $10, while more advanced models can cost $100 or more. When deciding which thermometer to buy, consider the following:

  • Temperature range. Thermometers typically state a temperature range that they can measure. Many have a small temperature range, usually somewhere between 90 and 110 degrees. Some also take the temperature of bath water and milk, and may offer broader readings.
  • Design. How does the thermometer feel in your hand? Does it have a backlit display? Does it color code readings to show a fever? While bells and whistles don’t necessarily make for a better product, you’ll want to feel comfortable using it.
  • Memory. Some thermometers offer storage space and the ability to recall previous readings. This allows you to track someone’s temperature over a period of time, and note any fluctuations.
  • Battery type. Battery types for thermometers include AAA, AA and button batteries. If you have small children, you might want to consider avoiding button batteries as they can be attractive, shiny and easy to swallow.

3 tips for taking your baby’s temperature

To have the smoothest experience with your thermometer, remember to:

  • Keep your thermometer clean. If your thermometer is dirty or if there are smudges in the way, it may impact your reading.
  • Try to keep your thermometer at room temperature. Other heat sources can impact your reading. If you’ve left your thermometer in a sunroom or near the air conditioner, let it reach room temperature before use.
  • Always read the instructions. Different models and brands provide different instructions. Some infrared thermometers say to swipe or scan across the forehead two or three times, while others suggest going down and around the back of the ear as well. Even if you think you know how to use a thermometer, double-check the guide.

Bottom line

Having a working thermometer on hand is essential, especially if you have babies and young children. Compare the basic and advanced models available and choose the type that’ll work best for your family and budget.

How did we choose these products?

To choose our list of the best baby thermometers, we compared features like type, reading time, accuracy and price. We also conducted online research to determine some of the most popular models available.

Frequently asked questions

What is a normal temperature for a baby?

A temperature of 97.5ºF is considered normal for babies and young children, but this can vary slightly. Temperatures of 100.4ºF and above are considered to be fevers in babies and children.

Are forehead thermometers accurate?

Forehead thermometers typically read 0.5ºF to 1ºF lower than oral thermometers.

Do baby thermometers contain mercury?

Most new baby thermometers on the market today don’t contain mercury, since it’s toxic and can be very dangerous if the thermometer breaks and is ingested. If you have an old thermometer with mercury, it’s not recommended for use on babies or children.

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