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How to Take an Infant’s Rectal Temperature

thermometer.jpgHardly anything sends a new parent into a panic faster than a feverish child. A quick touch of the lips to your baby?s head and neck can give you an indication if her body temperature is higher than normal or not. For a more reliable measurement, however, learn to take her temperature rectally.

Rectal thermometers offer the most reliable measurement of an infant?s body temperature. Although mercury glass thermometers are best, as far as predictability, there is also an inherent risk to using a mercury-filled object should it break. Handle with care.

Clean the rectal thermometer with cold, soapy water and sterilize the tip with alcohol before and after each use. Shake the thermometer until it reads 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coat the bulb tip of the thermometer and, with your baby lying face down, gently spread the buttocks apart. Insert the thermometer into the rectum no more than an inch. After three minutes, remove the thermometer. A normal rectal temperature for an infant is 99.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

A temperature over 101 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever. Although an elevated temperature is occasionally normal and the body?s natural way of combating infection, knowing this does nothing to assuage a parent?s fear or worry. If you are unsure how best to treat an infant fever, consult with your child?s primary care physician.

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