It's essential for every family medicine cabinet to have a thermometer for when you think your child might have a fever. That's why we've rounded up some of the best baby thermometers on the market for your newborn and thermometers for older children too.
Gone are the days you needed to shove a mercury-filled old-school thermometer in your child's armpit and try to hold them still for six minutes to get an accurate reading. Thankfully, technology has advanced so much that we can get a pretty accurate digital body temperature reading in just a few seconds. In addition to fever thermometers, bath and baby room thermometers are also necessary to make sure that your baby's surroundings are just right.
Choosing the best baby thermometer for your child
There are so many different types of baby thermometers on the market that cost anywhere from £10-£50; here’s a run-down of the different options available:
In-ear thermometers: You’ll notice most doctors use a digital in-ear thermometer to take babies’ temperatures —this is because it is quick and painless while giving an accurate body temperature reading.
Non-contact thermometers (forehead): These work by taking an infrared reading from your baby’s forehead, meaning you can check on their temperature with no physical contact. Don’t confuse these with the cheaper strip forehead thermometers, which are very different, and much less accurate. The NHS recommends avoiding using forehead strip-type thermometers.
Armpit thermometers: The NHS still recommends these when taking your baby’s temperature —especially when they are a newborn.
Rectal thermometers: Although this is considered the most invasive way of checking temperature, it is thought to give the most accurate result.
Room thermometers: These can help you make sure that your baby's room is the safest temperature for a baby. Experts suggest 16–20°C with a light blanket. Take a look at our pick of the best room thermometers here.
Bath thermometers: A baby's bath should be 37-38°C and the only way to make sure you've got it right is with a baby bath thermometer. Take a look at our pick of the best bath thermometers here.
The best baby thermometers 2021
Here are some of the best baby thermometers to check your baby's temperature available to buy right now in the UK.
Boots Non-Contact Baby Thermometer
This clever baby thermometer from boots has clinically proven accuracy and is multipurpose, allowing you to measure your baby’s bottle, food, bath water and room temperature as well. With easy to read symbols alerting you if things are out of the ordinary, we also love the built-in memory, recording the last 60 readings for you. It’s won frequently in our awards, and we highly recommend this reliable little gadget.
Mum Laura says: 'This product looks good and comes with a perfectly handy storage case, and it's so easy to use anyone could do it! It's light and easy to pop into your handbag and very hygienic as there is no direct contact, which I'm hoping will help prevent the spread of germs.'
Braun Healthcare No Touch forehead thermometer
Another non-contact thermometer that makes checking a wriggling baby's temperature a quick and easy task. Its dual technology means that you get fast and precise temperature readings in two ways: In the Touch mode by placing the thermometer on the forehead and in No-Touch mode, by holding the thermometer in front of your child’s forehead.
Mum Lisa says: 'Usually when we need to take the child’s temperature they are irritable u0026 ill, making it difficult to get the child to sit still for any length of time, this is an amazing precise handy piece of kit, which makes monitoring a child’s temperature easier than before.
'It is a handy size that tucks nicely away in the changing bag. As this device is no touch, it negates the requirement for separate disposable covers, although it can be used as a touch thermometer, which would require the item to be cleaned. Confidence is also given in the well-known branding.
'Sound can be switched on u0026 off at ease, which enables temperature to be taken without disturbing a sleeping baby, the LED backlight means that the display can be read with ease in any light within a few seconds.'
Tommee Tippee No Touch Forehead Thermometer
This clever thermometer from Tommee Tippee is perfect for reading the temperature of a sleeping child. This thermometer is quick, accurate and really easy to use on young babies. Just hold the scanner up to 4cm away from the centre of the forehead, press the start button and the temperature will show on the LCD display panel within two seconds.
Mum Johanne says: 'I would recommend this product as it is very easy to use. It is super simple and when your baby is unwell and distressed, that is what you need as a mum.
'The display is nice and clear and the check back feature is extremely helpful. Even though it's £49.99 I would say this is a worthwhile purchase as it is going to come in handy for years, unlike most baby purchases we make.'
NUK 2 in 1 Baby Thermometer
This electric thermometer measures baby’s temperature through their ear and temple, with an immediate fever warning, glowing red if your child has a fever. It also measures room temperature and surface temperature of bath water and baby food. Simple to switch between the different measuring options, we like the extra-small measuring probe which is perfect for baby ears.
Mum review: "I have used it for my 10 month old baby and it has been really useful, but I agree that wriggly babies do not make it terribly easy to take readings...not the product's fault though! Would buy again, especially for the price."
Brother Max 6-in-1 Thermometer
Silent, easy to use with no-contact, this is a great option for the whole family. It can be used to measure your child’s temperature at first sight, cleverly projecting the illuminated temperature reading onto their forehead. The 6-in-1 thermometer can also be used to measure bath water, liquid, room, food or skin temperature.
Review by Mum Helen: "This is the first digital thermometer I have used for my children, it has come at a great time as my daughter has chicken pox with a high fever and my son has been teething. It really is a godsend, it is easy and quick to use and my daughter doesn't complain when we have taken her temperature. We have been able to check when the children have been sleeping with adds extra peace of mind. I love that it is non-contact and compact so we have been able to take it with us."
Straight forward to use, this thermometer provides can be detected within a distance of 1cm to 5cm, giving an automatic temperature measurement in just one second. There are two modes to choose from, "Body" mode and "Surface"mode, so it can not only measure body temperature in babies or adults through the forehead mode, but also the temperature of water, bottles and food.
Review: "This infrared body thermometer is exactly what it says on the tin! A great item. We have always had little ones not liking there temp being taken in other methods but this non contact method has proven to be brilliant. Highly recommended especially if you have to take multiple temperatures for many people and many times a day."
What does a high temperature mean?
Dr Elia Maalouf is a consultant paediatrician and neonatologist at the Portland Hospital for Women and Children, the UK’s largest private children’s hospital.
‘Your child’s body is working all the time to maintain the optimum core temperature which all his organs need to function,’ explains consultant paediatrician and neonatologist Dr Elia Maalouf, who specialises in the treatment of fevers.
‘When we take a baby or child’s temperature, or an adult’s for that matter, we’re really measuring the core temperature of their body, rather than that of the surface of their skin,’ explains Elia. ‘In order for the body to function efficiently, that temperature must fluctuate within a normal range of 36.5 to 37.2 degrees.’
‘Infections are the most common reason your child will get a temperature,’ says Elia.
'When an infection invades his body, it mounts what’s called an ‘inflammatory response’ against it. Blood circulation increases around the infected area, carrying the antibodies needed to fight it. This causes his temperature to rise. Which also, happily, kills off some bacteria and viruses that can’t take the heat.'
So a higher-than-normal reading on the thermometer can actually be a positive sign. ‘It’s an indication that your child’s body is mounting an effective response to kill off the infection,’ explains Elia.
‘However, if your child has a temperature of 39.5 or above, you should always take action to try to lower it,’ he says.
The NHS urges parents to seek urgent medical advice if their baby under three-months-old has a temperature of 38°C or is between three and six-months-old and has a temperature of 39°C.