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An accurate, reliable, and easy-to-use infant thermometer can help monitor a child’s temperature. A rectal thermometer is usually recommended for infants, but other options such as forehead and underarm thermometers are available.

We look at some of the best infant thermometers and what to consider when choosing a thermometer.

Different thermometer types take the temperature from different body parts, including the rectum, mouth, ear, forehead, and underarm.

The child’s age and the type of thermometer can affect the accuracy of a reading.

Johns Hopkins Medicine offers the following advice on using thermometers on infants:

  • use a digital thermometer
  • avoid using a strip thermometer for babies
  • avoid mercury thermometers as mercury is very toxic
  • use a rectal thermometer for infants under 3 years
  • temporal artery thermometers, which measure forehead temperature, are also very accurate and may provide less discomfort for young infants
  • underarm thermometers can give an idea of temperature but are less accurate
  • ear thermometers may not be accurate enough in newborns
  • use the thermometer according to the manufacturer’s instructions

People may find an oral thermometer harder to use in younger children as it requires placing the thermometer under the tongue.

It is best to choose a thermometer that has Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

People may also want to consider certain features that can make a thermometer easier to use:

  • a flexible tip can make a rectal thermometer more comfortable for an infant
  • a backlit display to make it easier to read at night, or one that speaks the temperature
  • a memory feature to track temperatures
  • fast response to make it easier to take a temperature quickly
  • a multi-type thermometer to provide multiple readings, use for all the family, or continued use as the child gets older
  • an easy to clean to prevent bacteria from spreading
  • an alarm or color code feature that indicates when a temperature is too high for each age group

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for accuracy: Fridababy Quick-Read Rectal Thermometer

Price$14.99
MethodRectal
Result time10 seconds

The Fridababy is a rectal thermometer. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends rectal thermometers for infants because they give the most accurate information about a baby’s core temperature.

According to the manufacturer, this thermometer:

  • provides readings within 10 seconds
  • includes a stopper to prevent inserting the probe too far
  • has a back-lit display for easy nighttime readings
  • is BPA- and latex-free
  • is water-resistant for cleaning
  • has a memory function to help track temperatures and stores 10 previous readings
  • comes with a carry case

Customer reviews state that this thermometer is quick, accurate, and easy to use.

Best multi-use: Kinsa QuickCare Smart Thermometer

Price$29.99
MethodOral, underarm, or rectal
Result time8 seconds

The Kinsa QuickCare is an oral, rectal, and underarm thermometer. It also connects to an app to provide personalized advice on steps to take, depending on the reading.

According to the manufacturer, this thermometer:

  • provides a reading in 8 seconds or less
  • has FDA approval for safety and accuracy in all ages
  • has a flexible tip for insertion
  • offers a backlit display
  • takes readings in °F or °C
  • has a replaceable battery
  • comes with a storage pouch

Best dual mode: iProven DMT-489 Dual Mode Thermometer

Price$29.97
MethodEar and forehead
Result timeWithin 5 seconds

The iProven Dual Mode is a dual ear and forehead thermometer, making it suitable for all ages.

According to the manufacturer, this thermometer:

  • has a forehead option suitable for all ages and provides a reading within 3-5 seconds
  • has an ear thermometer option suitable for 6-month-old babies and provides a reading in 1-2 seconds
  • takes readings in °F or °C
  • has a memory function that stores up to 20 readings
  • has a backlit display
  • beeps and shows a red light to indicate a fever
  • durable materials

Customers receive a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Best forehead thermometer: Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer

Price$26.28
MethodForehead
Result timeWithin 10 seconds

The Exergen thermometer swipes across the forehead to take a reading, making it an unobtrusive option for taking an infant’s temperature while they sleep.

According to the manufacturer, this thermometer:

  • has noninvasive infrared technology
  • is suitable for use on all ages
  • is ideal for use on a sleeping infant or for an ear infection
  • recommended by doctors

Best rectal thermometer: Vicks Baby Rectal Thermometer

Price$21.99
MethodRectal
Result time10 seconds

The Vicks rectal thermometer has a short, flexible probe for safe and easy insertion.

According to the company, this thermometer:

  • is compact and easy to use
  • has a large backlit display
  • is easy to clean
  • is waterproof
  • is suitable for newborns and above
  • gives a reading in 10 seconds
  • short probe lowers the risk of over-insertion

Best infant ear thermometer: Braun ThermoScan7

Price$78
MethodEar
Result timeWithin 10 seconds

The Braun ThermoScan7 is an ear thermometer that allows people to set the child’s age to get a fever reading specific to that age group.

According to the manufacturer, the thermometer:

  • offers age precision settings for 0-3 months, 3-36 months, or 36 months+
  • is recommended by pediatricians
  • has a red, yellow, or green color-coded display for quick and easy interpretation of the results
  • has a pre-warmed tip for accuracy
  • has a light and beep to show accurate positioning
  • has a front display and night light
  • stores previous nine readings
  • comes with BPA- and latex-free disposable filters for hygiene

Best low-cost: Safety 1st Rapid Read 3-in-1 Thermometer

Price$9.99
MethodOral, underarm, or rectal
Result time8 seconds

The Safety 1st thermometer is an oral, rectal, and underarm thermometer, so it could be a good option to suit multiple family members or adapt as an infant grows.

It is lower cost than the other thermometers in this article.

According to the manufacturer, this thermometer:

  • provides an accurate reading in 8 seconds
  • beeps to indicate when a reading is complete
  • has a flexible tip for rectal use
  • has a gauge to help prevent over inserting
  • comes with a long-life battery
  • includes a storage case

Best for rapid results: American Red Cross Quick Read Digital Thermometer

Price$11.99
MethodOral, underarm, or rectal
Result timeWithin 10 seconds

The American Red Cross thermometer provides quick and accurate rectal, underarm, or oral readings.

According to the manufacturer, this thermometer:

  • provides an accurate reading in under 10 seconds
  • has a flexible tip for comfort
  • includes a protective cover to keep the thermometer clean between uses

Most comfortable rectal thermometer: Kamsay Digital Thermometer

Price$22.99
MethodRectal
Result time10 seconds

The Kamsay Digital is a waterproof, easy-to-clean rectal thermometer. It may be a more comfortable option for infants.

According to the manufacturer, this thermometer:

  • delivers 100% accurate readings in 10 seconds
  • is FDA-certified
  • has a soft, flexible tip for comfort
  • has a large display with light
  • takes readings in °F or °C
  • is waterproof
  • has a fever alarm
  • comes with a spare battery and a 1-year warranty

Best for sleeping infants: Metene The Non Contact Infrared Baby Thermometer for Fever

Price$25.99
MethodNon-contact, 1-5 cm from forehead
Result time1 second

The Metene non-contact thermometer allows people to take a reading without touching an infant, making it ideal for taking temperatures without waking a sleeping child.

According to the manufacturer, this thermometer

  • takes a reading within 1-5 cm of the forehead
  • provides a reading in 1 second
  • is FDA-certified
  • provides accurate readings
  • stores 50 readings
  • is suitable for use on all ages
  • has the option to choose between fever alert and mute mode
  • takes readings in °F or °C
  • can also check the temperature of objects

The table below compares the products in this article on key features:

PriceMethodAgesResults time
Fridababy Quick-Read Rectal$14.99RectalInfants10 seconds
Kinsa QuickCare$29.99Oral, underarm, or rectalAll ages8 seconds
iProven DMT-489 Dual Mode$29.97Ear or foreheadAll agesWithin 5 seconds
Exergen Temporal Artery$26.28ForeheadAll agesWithin 10 seconds
Vicks Baby Rectal$21.99RectalInfants10 seconds
Braun ThermoScan7$78EarAll agesWithin 10 seconds
Safety 1st 3-in-1$9.99Oral, underarm, or rectalVaries depending on mode8 seconds
American Red Cross Quick Read$11.99Oral, underarm, or rectalInfantsWithin 10 seconds
Kamsay Digital Thermometer$22.99RectalInfants10 seconds
Metene Non-Contact Forehead$25.99Non-contact, 1-5 cm from foreheadAll ages1 second

The following are common questions and answers about infant thermometers:

What type of thermometer is best for infants?

Health experts recommend using a rectal thermometer in children up to age 3 for accurate readings.

Forehead and underarm thermometers are also accurate options.

People may find oral or ear thermometers difficult to use on infants, so they may not provide accurate readings.

Are forehead thermometers accurate on infants?

Rectal thermometers are the most commonly recommended way to check an infant’s temperature. However, measuring temperature through the temporal artery on the forehead is also an accurate option.

How do you safely take an infant’s temperature?

The safest way to take an infant’s temperature is to use the appropriate thermometer for the infant’s age. If measuring temperature rectally, use a thermometer specifically designed for the task. It will have a soft, flexible tip and a stopper to prevent over-insertion of the thermometer.

Important steps include:

  • place babies on their bellies
  • lubricate the thermometer first
  • hold the thermometer in place while measuring with one hand and calm the baby with the other
  • do not leave the baby alone
  • remove when the measurement is complete
  • record measurement
  • clean thermometer

Having an easy-to-use and accurate thermometer is important for checking if an infant has a healthy temperature or not.

A rectal or temporal artery thermometer may be the best option for children under 3 years, while ear and oral thermometers may be suitable for older children.

Call a doctor if an infant:

  • is less than 3 months old and has a temperature of 38°C or above
  • is 3-6 months old and has a temperature of 39°C or above
  • has a rash or other symptoms
  • is not acting like their usual self
  • does not want to eat or drink
  • has a temperature that lasts for more than 5 days
  • is dehydrated

Learn more about healthy body temperature range in adults and children here.