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How To Take a Baby's Temperature Rectally

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises taking baby's temperature rectally. Learn how to make your baby as comfortable as possible.


  • Step 1: Remove the thermometer as soon as it beeps and note the reading. Call your pediatrician if your baby’s temperature is over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit and they're under three months old. Ask the doctor about specific guidelines for children over three months.
  • Step 2: Clean the thermometer with an alcohol wipe or soap and water. Sometimes babies poop after having their temperature taken, so you may have to change their diaper.
  • FACT: An English doctor, Sir Thomas Allbutt, invented the modern medical thermometer in 1866.
  • Step 3: Cupping their bottom in your hand, hold the thermometer in place between your first and second fingers. Keep your other hand on your baby to keep them still. While you wait for the thermometer to beep, talk to your baby in soothing tones.
  • Step 4: Hold up the baby's legs so that you have access to their bottom. Gently insert the tip of the thermometer. Do not insert it more than 1 inch; you could perforate the rectum.
  • Step 5: Lay your baby face up on the changing table or other surface. Undress them from the waist down and unfasten their diaper.
  • TIP: Some moms prefer taking their baby’s temperature by placing the baby facedown across their lap.
  • Step 6: Dab some petroleum jelly on the tip of the thermometer.
  • Step 7: Clean off the tip of the thermometer with the alcohol wipe or soap and lukewarm water.

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