Taking temperature

Should your baby appear to have a fever, knowing the best way to gauge your baby’s temperature is the first step. A fever is a temperature of over 37.5ºC (99.5ºF). Fevers are quite common in young children but are usually mild. If your child’s face feels hot to the touch and they look red or flushed, they may have a fever.

You can also check their temperature with a thermometer. Measured under the arm, normal temperature is about 36.4°C (97.4°F). Under the tongue, normal temperature is slightly higher, at about 37°C (98.4°F). This may vary a bit.

  • In infants under the age of 4 weeks, body temperature should be measured with an electronic thermometer in the axilla (under the arm).
  • In children aged 4 weeks to 5 years, body temperature should be measured by one of the following methods:
    • electronic thermometer in the axilla
    • chemical dot thermometer in the axilla
    • infra-red tympanic thermometer (thermometer inserted in child’s ear, always read the label carefully)
  • Forehead chemical thermometers are unreliable as they only show the temperature of the skin, not the body and therefore are not an accurate way of taking your baby’s temperature.
  • The oral and rectal routes should not routinely be used to measure the body temperature of children aged 0–5 years.