A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called, You can’t call-in sick when you’re a mom. Well wouldn’t you know it, I inevitably gave my daughter her first cold. That night she woke at 1am hysterically crying. I went into her room and as soon as I picked her up I knew she had a fever. She was hot to the touch. I got the thermometer out and took her temperature. Sure enough, it was 102.2. I gave her an infant dose of acetaminophen (carefully read the directions of course – how much to give depends on your babies’ weight), started the cool-mist humidifier, used some saline drops and a nasal aspirator to relieve the congestion. After hours of rocking her, she finally fell back asleep and stayed in my arms until 6am. Her fever broke by late morning, but her congestion got worse. She couldn’t even nurse. I had to pump and feed her with a medicine dropper! Am I the only one with a baby that refuses to take a bottle?
A digital thermometer can be used to take a rectal (in the bottom), oral (in the mouth), or axillary (under the arm) temperature. Your child’s doctor can recommend how to use it depending on your child’s age. Taking a rectal or oral temperature is more accurate than taking an axillary temperature.
If your child is younger than 3 years, taking a rectal temperature gives the best reading. The following is how to take a rectal temperature:
• Clean the end of the thermometer with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. Rinse it with cool water. Do not rinse it with hot water.
• Put a small amount of lubricant, such as petroleum jelly, on the end.
• Place your child belly down across your lap or on a firm surface. Hold him by placing your palm against his lower back, just above his bottom. Or place your child face up and bend his legs to his chest. Rest your free hand against the back of the thighs.
• With the other hand, turn the thermometer on and insert it 1/2 inch to 1 inch into the anal opening. Do not insert it too far. Hold the thermometer in place loosely with 2 fingers, keeping your hand cupped around your child’s bottom. Keep it there for about 1 minute, until you hear the “beep.” Then remove and check the digital reading.
• Be sure to label the rectal thermometer so it’s not accidentally used in the mouth.
Mercury thermometers should not be used. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to remove mercury thermometers from their homes to prevent accidental exposure to this toxin.