How should I take my child's ear temperature?

The ear temperature is an easy and quick way to measure your child's temperature, no matter how old your child is. Be careful not to push the thermometer down into your child's ear canal because you could damage the canal or even the eardrum. Also, make sure you use an ear thermometer, not an oral or a rectal thermometer. Your child can be awake or sleeping for an ear temperature.
  • Many models of ear thermometers use plastic covers. Make sure you place the correct size of plastic cover over the tip of the thermometer if your thermometer uses them.
  • Insert the tip of the ear thermometer into your child's outer ear, but be sure not to push it far into the ear canal.
  • Press the button on the thermometer and wait 1 to 3 seconds, until the thermometer beeps.
  • Take the thermometer away from your child's ear.
Ear thermometers use infrared rays to measure a child's temperature. It is important to remember that anything that may block the thermometer's laser signal, such as ear wax or a small ear canal, could make the reading inaccurate. Simply turn on the thermometer, place the tip in your child's ear and hold until it gives you a reading. Remember to clean the tip of the thermometer with rubbing alcohol or warm water and soap after each use. This sort of thermometer is best for children age 3 months and up.

Continue Learning about Children's Health

Don’t Drop the Ball on Kids’ Snacks
Don’t Drop the Ball on Kids’ Snacks
It’s the start of your nine-year-old’s youth baseball season…He’s at bat—a swing and a miss. The 2-2 pitch hits the dirt and it gets by the catcher. ...
Read More
How does prematurity affect an infant's lungs?
Sunrise Children's HospitalSunrise Children's Hospital
The lungs of premature infants are immature and prone to complications.
More Answers
Head Lice: 11 Myths Debunked
Head Lice: 11 Myths DebunkedHead Lice: 11 Myths DebunkedHead Lice: 11 Myths DebunkedHead Lice: 11 Myths Debunked
Find out what you can do to treat -- and prevent -- a lice infestation.
Start Slideshow
How Has Your Role As a Pediatrician Changed?
How Has Your Role As a Pediatrician Changed?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.