Ear and Temporal Thermometers
Latest update: September 14, 2018
Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD
Both a temporal thermometer (forehead) and an ear
easy to measure baby's
temperature - especially if you need it while she sleeps.
You know those moments, when your she's had a fever during the day and
while she's sleeping you want to check if it's still there or
got better ... Or when baby's cranky and fussy during the day and
too restless to get a decent regular temperature (rectal or under arm).
Or you're on the road ... that's when such a quick indication can be a
Let's have a look at
the different types and what to look out for when choosing one.
No-hassle and quick. Good indication of body temperature.
May need to average 2-3 measurements.
A forehead or temporal thermometer measures body temperature at the forehead.
The same place
where us moms and dads place our lips to get a first indication of
How to use: with most models, you
hold the head
baby's forehead and gently swipe it sideways over the eyebrow and
towards the hairline.
Most babies and toddlers don't mind this at all
and won't even wake up it you want to measure while sleeping.
It's best to wipe dry baby's forehead before measuring to
avoid wrong readings, especially if it's hot or if she's a bit sweaty.
For young babies (under 1 year old, some say 3 years), results may not
be 100% reliable. Many have long shouted that this type of measurement
is totally unusable. But the new models are getting better and better
and are widely used by doctors and in hospitals, because indeed there
is a lot of value in getting a fast relative temperature reading.
Sadly, really cheap ones just don't offer enough quality so you need to
spend a little.
Temporal Thermometer is very reasonably priced though and
gives good results.
It does take a bit of practice to do the move correctly. The
measurement may vary with how exactly you swipe. So it's a good idea to
test a couple of times before starting to rely on the results.
Take your temporal thermometer to the doctor on your next visit to
compare your results to his in a test measurement.
Remark: there are also temple
thermometers (no swiping, just hold against
the market but to date I have not found a sufficiently reliable
one to recommend. Please let me know if you have experience - good or
Quick indication of body temperature.
Must insert precisely. Not with ear infection.
To measure temperature with an ear thermometer, you have to insert its head into the ear
entrance. To do this correctly you have to pull the ear to
open and straighten the ear
That's the main drawback of this type of thermometer: to do it
correctly can be a little uncomfortable for your child. It'll be
impossible when he has an ear infection. And if you don't insert
correctly, the measurement will not be precise.
But it's quite doable. With just a bit of practice you'll soon get the
hang of it. A good quality
ear thermometer like the Braun
Thermoscan gives good
Don't bother to shop (and pay!) for the fastest "1 second" gadget.
quality may take just a few seconds longer, but those few
moments won't bother your child that much.
And those moments are worth the wait
because you get a better reading.
Mind that for really young babies
results may not be very reliable. As your child grows though, the ear
thermometer will most certainly come in handy for quick and no-fuss
It's a good idea to take your ear thermometer along to a next doctor's
consult. He or she can show you how to pull
the ear and insert the thermometer correctly for best results. And you
can do a test and compare measurement with his device.
As a general recommendation I recommend you get a decent basic digital
thermometer (for rectal or under arm measurement) for precise
to-the-degree results, see Thermometers, part 1 for details on that. Then complement with an ear or temporal thermometer for no-fuss measurements when needed.