Updated: October 6, 2015
Thermometer Reviews:As a parent I know how scary it can be when your child is running a high fever. You are constantly assessing their temperature to make sure it doesn't get too high. I've bought several thermometers over the years for our kids and some are better than others. Taking a kids temperature, especially if they are little ones who are tired and cranky is not easy. The new digital ear thermometers and armpit varieties are much easier than trying to get a reading in the mouth of a 2 year old. Rectal thermometers used to be commonplace when I was a kid, but I think doctors and parents are glad to have moved on to thermometers that let you take a temperature from other locations on the body. Your body temperature should be around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Ear and rectal thermometer readings are regularly 0.5 to 1F higher when compared to those taken by oral thermometers and the armpit ones are usually a touch lower than the oral readings. In any event, you are considered to have a fever when your temperature is above 100 degrees.
What type of thermometer is best?It's hard to say, although the newer digital thermometers are very accurate. They use electronic heat sensors and are run on batteries to get the most precise temperature. It takes less than 30 seconds to get an accurate readout which appears in a small LCD screen on the thermometer. There are digital pacifier thermometers - the little infant (not less than 3 months in age) suck on the pacifier and you get a reading that is displayed on the front of the product. It can take up to 3 minutes to work, so some parents give up on these types of readings. Our pediatrician uses a digital ear thermometer so that is what we bought for our household. These tympanic thermometers are really kind of neat. You just insert the thermometer into the ear and an infrared ray will measure the body temperature that is inside ear canal. The results pop up within a few seconds and they tend to be fairly accurate. You can use them on kids and adults, but again they are not recommended for infants 3 months or younger since the readings are not easy to get with such small ear canals on newborns.
The temporal thermometers, like the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer (about $35) are often easier to administer for many parents, as you just swipe it slowly across the forehead. One note, if a forehead is sweaty, you use it just behind the bottom of the ear instead. Forehead thermometers and ear thermometers are not as accurate as the oral or rectal thermometers (though pretty darn close) so be sure you are using them correctly. As for reviews on the "best thermometer", Consumer Reports did a story back in 2005 on digital and ear thermometers along with oral, rectal, and forehead types to see which ones were the most accurate and easy to use. The story is a bit outdated, but still some of the results are listed below. Overall, the recommendations from CR and doctors is that you stick with basic oral thermometers, they can be digital. The ear thermometers and forehead thermometers are not precise enough and can lead to false readings. For buying online, take a look at the top-rated thermometers here -- they tend to offer very competitive prices and great selection and service.
Best Oral Thermometers:Oral thermometers are cheap ($10 to $20) and definitely one of the most accurate types. Consumer Reports mentions in their studies and tests that the BD Digital Accu-Beep at $10 is the best buy in this category. The thermometer beeps when you are using it correctly and it will signal when it's done getting a temperature reading. It's mercury free and owners say it's easy to read and use. Other top rated oral thermometers include the Lumiscope 2210-214 Quick-Read Digital Thermometer, the Vicks Comfort-Flex $14 and the Omron 20 Seconds Digital. We found almost all these online at Amazon.com or you can check with your local drug store or pharmacy. ($10)
Digital Ear Thermometer:
Ear thermometers are fast (sometimes giving you a reading in about 1 second), but they can be tricky to use and are not as accurate as oral thermometers or rectal ones. The one product that stood out amongst all the ear thermometers is the Braun Thermoscan Ear Thermometer ($56) and it isn't cheap compared to the less expensive oral or rectal ones. The Braun ear thermometer comes with 21 disposable lens filters, can keep 8 temperature readings in it's memory which is a nice feature, and the LCD screen is easy to read. The Safety 1st Hospital's Choice Ear Thermometer ($23) is slightly cheaper and still scores pretty well on the owner reviews left at Amazon.com in their customer feedback section. The Omron MC 514 Ear Thermometer with Advanced Temperature Scanning is popular, but reviews aren't as positive. As we mentioned, using an ear thermometer requires the proper positioning in the ear for the most accurate results. To find out how to use one properly, go HERE. You can find a good variety on Amazon.com with reviews about each one.