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Taking Your Baby’s Rectal Temperature: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the important duties of parenthood is monitoring your baby’s health, and that includes taking their temperature. Rectal thermometers are known to provide the most accurate readings for babies, but they must be used correctly. This guide will help you understand when, how, and why to take your baby’s rectal temperature.

Understanding Rectal Temperatures in Babies

Is Rectal Temp More Accurate for Babies?

Yes, for babies, especially those three months old and younger, a rectal temperature reading is considered the most accurate.

What Rectal Temperature is Considered a Fever in a Baby?

A rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) or higher is considered a fever in a baby.

How to Take Your Baby’s Rectal Temperature Safely

How Far Do You Stick a Rectal Thermometer in a Baby?

When taking your baby’s rectal temperature, insert the thermometer about half an inch to an inch (1.25 to 2.5 centimeters) into the rectum.

Should You Use Vaseline on a Baby Rectal Thermometer?

Yes, using a small amount of lubricant like petroleum jelly can make the process more comfortable for your baby.

What Could Happen if You Insert a Rectal Thermometer Too Far?

Inserting a rectal thermometer too far can potentially harm your baby by causing injury to the rectum. Always be gentle and stop if your baby seems uncomfortable.

Understanding Temperature Adjustments

Do Rectal Temperatures Read Higher? Do You Subtract a Degree?

Rectal temperatures can read a little higher due to the internal measurement. You do not subtract a degree for rectal temperatures.

When to Seek Medical Help

When Should You Take Your Baby to the Hospital Based on Their Temperature?

If your baby is less than three months old and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, seek medical attention immediately. For older babies and children, call your doctor if the fever is accompanied by symptoms such as lethargy, rash, or trouble breathing.

The Disadvantages and Risks of Rectal Temperature

What Are the Disadvantages of Rectal Temperature?

While rectal temperature readings are accurate, they can be uncomfortable and distressing for the baby. There’s also a small risk of injury if the thermometer is inserted too far.

Tips from Our Readers:

John, Boston, MA:
“I remember my heart pounding when I first attempted to take my son’s rectal temperature. I gently positioned him on the changing table, so his tummy was against the soft, warm pad. The digital rectal thermometer seemed alien, but I had practiced its set up in advance. I dabbed a bit of water-based lubricant on the sensor tip – it wasn’t as tricky as I imagined. The toughest part? Keeping his little legs still. To my surprise, he hardly fussed when the thermometer beeped to indicate it was done. Reading ‘101.5°F’ on the display instantly gave me peace of mind – I knew what to tell the pediatrician.”

Rachel, Sydney, Australia:
“Taking my little Ruby’s rectal temperature was a daunting task at first. The specially designed baby rectal thermometer, with its flexible tip and quick reading feature, was a bit intimidating. I remember cradling Ruby in the football hold, exposing her bottom while ensuring she felt secure. I used petroleum jelly to ease the process, inserting just the very tip of the thermometer. It was surprisingly quick, and Ruby was back to giggling in no time. The relief when the digital readout indicated ‘37.8°C’, just a little elevated, was immense.”

Pascal, Marseille, France:

“First time taking my infant’s rectal temperature, I was worried about causing discomfort. To keep Noé calm, we were in his cozy nursery, his favorite lullaby softly playing. The thermometer, designed for infants, had a stopper to ensure I wouldn’t insert too far. I recall how gently I applied a smidgen of KY jelly, reassuring him softly all along. After a quick minute, the beep echoed in the room and I exhaled in relief seeing ‘38.2°C’ – slightly high, but not alarming. It wasn’t as bad as I had feared.”

How Can Help

Taking a baby’s rectal temperature can sometimes be a distressing process that can disrupt their sleep pattern. provides expert advice on how to soothe your baby and ensure they get back to sleep quickly and smoothly after the process. The quality of a baby’s sleep can significantly influence their overall health and well-being. Visit for helpful resources to improve your baby’s sleep habits and overall health.


While taking a rectal temperature can provide the most accurate readings for babies, it’s essential to do it correctly and understand what the readings mean. It’s also important to know when to seek medical help. Remember, managing your baby’s sleep well is crucial for their health. For help and resources on baby sleep, visit

1 thought on “Taking Your Baby’s Rectal Temperature: A Comprehensive Guide”

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