Baby fever – check baby fever temperature with a digital thermometer

Baby fever can be cause for alarm, as it’s a sign that your baby is fighting an infection. If your baby fever temperature is above 100.4°F (38°C), it’s a symptom that your little one has a baby fever. You will need a reliable and accurate digital thermometer to check your baby fever temperature.

  1. What is the fever temperature?
  2. Where to take your child’s temperature?
  3. Which digital thermometer for my child?
  4. The best child digital thermometers!

Your child’s temperature will vary naturally through the day. A high baby temperature could indicate a baby fever, which is a symptom of your child fighting an infection. This isn’t necessarily serious, the main symptoms for a baby fever are generally:

  • Common cold or similar viral infection.
  • Reaction to being too hot (over clothed, or hot day).
  • Reaction to an immunisation or vaccination.

Rarely, a high fever temperature is a consequence of a more serious bacterial infection. These are rare and so don’t be overly worried. Baby fever, toddler fever, and fever in children may not always be shown by a change in your child’s temperature. Just stay vigilant and monitor their behaviour watching for subtler changes in:

  • Restlessness
  • Eating habits
  • Levels of interaction and play

Age is an important factor, so if your baby is under 3 months old and has a temperature of above 100.4°F you should call the doctor immediately. If you little one is 3 months or older, consider your baby’s behaviour more, above purely temperature.


What temperature is a fever? (what temp is a fever)

A fever temperature is considered to be equal to, or above, 100.4°F (38°C). The normal range is considered to be 97 – 100.3°F.


Taking your child’s temperature is easy, but the best way to do it depends on the age of the child, and the situation.

You can take your child’s temperature in many different positions on the body, such as the mouth (oral), arm pit (axillary), bottom (rectal), forehead (temporal), or ear (tympanic). Some locations are more accurate than others and temperatures will slightly vary between locations. The gold standard is generally considered the rectal measurement, though research shows temporal thermometers rival the success of rectal thermometers in age range 2-12 years, in emergency departments. The ear (tympanic) and forehead (temporal) are gaining credence and support. They allow quicker and just as accurate measurements of temperature for children above 3 months old.

You should always use a rectal thermometer with a baby under 3 months old (and never an ear thermometer, their ear canal is not wide enough). As babies get older they won’t want the rectal thermometer. If your 4 year old is coughing all the time, an oral thermometer won’t be as convenient as a quick tympanic (ear) thermometer check. An element of common sense is needed for the situation. This table shows the recommended thermometer selection for the age groups.

Thermometer type
Fever temperature (°F/°C)
0-3 monthsRectum (rectal)100.4 / 38
3 months to 4 yearsForehead (temporal)
Ear (tympanic)
100.4 / 38
100.4 / 38
4+ yearsMouth (oral)
Forehead (temporal)
Ear (tympanic)
99.5 / 37.5
100.4 / 38
100.4 / 38


Which digital thermometer for my baby, toddler, or infant?

It is not recommended to use an older style mercury thermometer due to the risk posed by the presence of mercury (a toxic metal) and potential for breakage with glass products.  You should only use a reliable digital thermometer.

There are digital thermometers designed with children in mind and some can be used to measure temperature in a range of areas. Different digital thermometers are best in different situations, but as an all rounder we’d always go with a reliable forehead thermometer, as you can use it without disturbing the child, if the situation allows. An ear thermometer would be next best as it’s quick. And of course have a rectal thermometer for the babies, at all times. Our selection focuses on the best available, with reasonable price tags.

Key features to look for, included in our selection:

  • Memory of last 10+ readings – you can quickly review earlier readings
  • Auto shut off – save battery life
  • 3 second or less read time – minimum hassle and discomfort
  • Large backlit display – easy to read
  • Quick response – not waiting ages for reading to process

Click the picture from the table to get more information and see more about the product.

Price ($)
Vicks V977 Forehead Thermometer Forehead (temporal)VicksV977Light colour indicates reading status (green / orange / red)Some reliability issues42
Braun Thermoscan IRT 4520Ear (tympanic)BraunThermoscanBest reputationRequires probe covers (clean or purchase)45
Gurin TS-110Ear (tympanic)GurinTS-110Ergonomic designSome reliability issues25
Bebe Sounds 1 Second ThermometerEar (tympanic)Bebe SoundsOne-Second Fun display (smiley or sad face)Less well known32
Exergen TAT 2000C Forehead (temporal)ExergenTAT-2000CGreat reputationSmall display30
Safety 1st "Hospital Choice"Mouth (oral), Under Arm (axillary), Bottom (rectal)Safety 1stHospital's ChoiceAdaptable
Longer reading times (30-60s)12
Safety 1st Gentle ReadBottom (rectal)Safety 1stGentle ReadShort, flexible tip, 8 second readingSpecific9

Most problems with digital thermometers are due to inconsistent readings, inaccurate readings, or faulty products on arrival. They’re not based on issues with the product design itself. For this reason we’d advise basing your decision on reputation, and purchasing from somewhere with an excellent returns policy, just in case.

A thermometer may not be considered as accurate because it requires a long period of time (minutes instead of seconds) with the child holding the thermometer still, to gain a stable reading. This is not possible in most cases, and so it is not recommended to use this thermometer type. It is not a comment on the technical thermometer accuracy, but an appreciation of the realistic nature of children. Therefore, a pacifier thermometer is generally not considered a good type to use as generally they do not deliver fast readings.

If you found this page helpful, and are considering getting a digital thermometer for your child, please use one of the links here – you will be helping support the website at no extra cost to you! Thanks.


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