How to take your baby’s temperature

infant or baby feverMany of us don’t think about keeping a thermometer in our home until we become parents and have a new baby to look after. Monitoring your newborn baby’s health and wellbeing is an important aspect of their daily care; this includes identifying when they may be unwell and have a fever.

What is a baby’s normal temperature?

Your baby’s normal temperature should be in the range of 36.5oC to 37.0oC


How warm should my baby’s room be?

Research has shown that the ideal room temperature for your baby is in the range between 16-20°C. If the room that your baby is in is below this temperature, they will become too cold and if the temperature is higher, they will become too hot. Purchasing a portable room thermometer is always a good investment because it can follow your baby around the home. When you first return home with your baby, they will often stay in the same room as you, so they may be in their Moses basket in the lounge and then move upstairs to your bedroom at bedtime.


Taking your baby’s temperature

You must never check your baby’s temperature by inserting a thermometer into their mouth or rectum (back passage), as these practices are potentially dangerous and could hurt them.


Using a digital thermometer

You may choose to use a digital thermometer which is placed into your baby’s armpit (axilla). The thermometer is held firmly between the skin of your baby’s arm and their chest. NB. Babies hate being constrained and may cry while you are holding their arm to keep the thermometer in its place. You should not remove the thermometer until it makes a ‘beeping’ sound after a minute or two; this noise signals that you can read the temperature. Your baby’s temperature is then displayed digitally on a small display screen which is built into the thermometer.


Tympanic (ear) thermometers

You may wish to use a tympanic thermometer which is a special digital thermometer that takes a reading of your baby’s temperature from inside their ear. These thermometers have a small probe-like feature which is placed gently into the opening of your baby’s ear. Tympanic thermometers tend to give you a more rapid reading of your baby’s temperature. These types of baby thermometer give a very accurate reading of your baby’s body temperature, but are more expensive than under-the-arm digital thermometers.


Temperature strips

These are easy to use as they are placed directly onto your baby’s forehead. Temperature strips are not as accurate as a tympanic thermometer or under-the-arm digital thermometers.


Non-contact infrared thermometers (also called laser thermometers)

These are the most expensive types of thermometer available on the market. They work by recording the thermal radiation that is emitted from your baby’s body without touching the surface of their skin. Most commonly an infrared thermometer is held close to your baby’s forehead and will give a digital recording of their body temperature. The advantage of non-touch thermometers is that you can check your baby’s temperature without disturbing them.



These are baby suits and sleep suits that change colour when your baby gets too hot. The baby suits and sleep wear start to change from their usual pink or blue colour to white, once your baby’s temperature rises above 37oC and then become fully white when your baby’s temperature exceeds 38.5oC. Babyglow suits give parents a highly visual indication that their baby is too hot which can be followed up by checking your baby’s temperature ahead of seeking medical advice. Further information is available from:


Safeguarding your baby’s wellbeing

A temperature of 37.6oC or higher is considered to be a mild rise in temperature (also called a low-grade pyrexia). If your baby’s temperature remains at this level for longer than 24 hours despite removing layers of their clothing/bedding and treating them with Infant Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, or their temperature rises to 38oC or higher, you should contact your GP immediately. The key message is to always trust your instincts; as parents you know your baby better than anybody else does. If you are concerned that your baby is unwell always seek medical advice without delay.

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Smith J, Alcock G, Usher K (2013). Temperature measurement in the preterm and term neonate: a review of the literature. Neonatal Network: the Journal of Neonatal Nursing 32(1):16-25.