Is Your Child Really Sick? These 5 (Fake-Proof) Thermometers Will Tell You

Every kid's probably pulled this little maneuver: He wants a day off school, so he pretends to be sick. He works up a few fake coughs, assumes a miserable, peaked look, and tells his mom he doesn't feel well enough to go to school. But moms are no dummies. The first thing they'll do is whip out the thermometer and check to see if their little actor really does have a fever.

Things have changed a lot since our own mothers did the fever test on us. No longer are thermometers just thin glass sticks filled with mercury. It can be dizzying to browse the display at your local drugstore if you haven't looked for one in a while. It's helpful to keep in mind that there are just five basic types:

1) Digital thermometer: Readily available, easy to use, and inexpensive. They can be used rectally, orally, and under the arm.


You don't actually need a special rectal thermometer, but using one might ease your mind if you're taking the temp of a wiggly baby. And since they're inexpensive, you should have one thermometer you use for taking rectal temperatures and another for oral temps for everyone else in the house. Doctors prefer that children under 3 get their temps taken rectally.

2) Ear thermometers: Not surprisingly, these measure your child's temp inside the ear. Doctors tend not to be big fans of these because little kids squirm, and you have to position the thermometers perfectly to get an accurate reading.

3) Pacifier thermometers: Just what they sound like: digital thermometers in the shape of pacifiers. They don't work any better than the other types and can only really be used by the pacifier-dependent in your house, but if you have a baby who flatly refuses any other method, do what works.

4) Temporal artery thermometers: These high-tech devices slide across the forehead, taking 1,000 readings per second. They measure the temperature of the temporal artery under the skin. Sweat, hair, or a sick little head mushed into a pillow can throw off the results, but they are generally considered pretty accurate.

5) Forehead strips: These take readings from the child's forehead using liquid crystals, which change color in predictable ways at certain temperatures. Fun fact: This is the same technology used in mood rings! Unfortunately, they are about as accurate as mood rings, too, and should only be used in situations like schools where one thermometer for 500 kids isn't a good idea.

What's your favorite temperature-taking trick?


Image via sunshinecity/Flickr

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