Fever is common in children1, so having a good thermometer on hand is very important. A fever, or high body temperature is actually a sign that the body’s immune system is trying to fight off an infection.1


While the fever itself is usually not harmful, it does mean there’s an underlying condition that may need to be investigated.1 And as a parent, a baby with a high temperature is scary, particularly if it triggers a seizure or fit. Febrile seizures, as they’re known, are also common, and don’t usually cause any long term issue, but can be distressing and should be checked out by a health professional. (Refer to this fact sheet from The Royal Children’s Hospital for more information)2


Most modern thermometers are digital,3 and they fall into one of two main types:4

  • Contact or touch thermometers
  • Remote or non-contact thermometers


Omron Ear ThermometerContact/touch thermometers are the most common type4, going back to the old glass ones your parents or grandparents probably used. These days, the digital versions use electronic heat sensors instead of mercury, and they can be used in the ear, mouth, armpit, and rectum. Although ear thermometers use the same infrared technology as non-contact devices, they fall into the contact or touch category. However, they have the benefit of being quick and less intrusive than oral or rectal devices. They also use probe covers for hygiene. And compared with non-contact options, they are less affected by the external environment conditions. Remote or non-contact thermometers became very popular during the Covid19 pandemic5 probably because of the need to socially distance and maintain sterility between testing.


So, which is the best for babies, infants and children?


According to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic4, rectal temperatures measured with a contact thermometer provide the most accurate readings for infants, especially those 3 months and under. Try and choose a digital thermometer with a flexible tip to avoid too much discomfort with the baby. Non-contact ear or forehead thermometers are also useful and more convenient if a baby is sleeping. They are also extremely quick, providing a temperature reading in around 1 second. Best of all, they will still be useful for many years as the child grows up. Both ear and forehead non-contact thermometers use infrared technology to provide an accurate reading.


A contact thermometer has the advantage of being a bit more versatile because it can be used under the armpit or under the tongue. (Note: they can also be used rectally, but it is recommended that you have two different devices for oral or rectal use). So how do you choose? Well, from a cost perspective, non-contact thermometers are significantly more expensive. But they’re also quick and more convenient to use with a sick infant. Whatever your choice, select a reputable brand to ensure accuracy, but make sure you have at least one of the options in your first aid kit.

You can see the range of options here.


Always read & follow the instructions for use & health warnings. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.



  1. https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Fever_in_children/
  2. https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Febrile_seizures/
  3. https://raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/health-daily-care/health-concerns/taking-your-childs-temperature
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fever/in-depth/thermometers/art-20046737
  5. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200803005329/en/Non-Contact-Infrared-Thermometers-Market-2020-2030-COVID-19-Implications-and-Growth—ResearchAndMarkets.com
  6. https://www.whattoexpect.com/baby-products/baby-care/best-baby-thermometers