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You take an axillary temperature by holding the thermometer under your baby’s arm. Do this with care to provide a correct reading. Remember, though, that taking a child’s temperature under the arm is less accurate than taking the temperature in the rectum, especially for babies less than 3 months old. Use the steps on this sheet as a guide for taking an axillary temperature.
Be sure to use a thermometer that is specifically designed for underarm use.
Remove the cover from the thermometer.
Clean the thermometer before each use.
Be sure the thermometer is at room temperature when you use it.
Hold your baby on your lap or lay the baby on his or her back on a firm surface.
Gently lift your baby’s arm.
Place the tip of the thermometer in the fold of the baby’s armpit. To get a true reading, the thermometer must rest directly against baby’s skin on all sides.
Lower the arm back down to your baby’s side.
Follow the specific instructions for using your digital thermometer.
Keep your baby’s arm against his or her side. This keeps the thermometer in place and gives an accurate reading.
When the thermometer beeps, release your hold and gently lift baby’s arm.
Remove the thermometer.
Read the temperature on the digital display. Normal axillary temperature is about 97.6°F to 99.4°F.
Before putting the thermometer away, clean it with soap and warm water and put the cover back on.
Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.
Call your doctor right away if your child has any of the following:
Bleeding from the area where you took the temperature
Fever of 100.4°F or higher (for baby younger than 3 months)
or fever of 101.4°F or higher (for baby older than 3 months)