While axillary temperature-taking is not the most accurate way to take a newborn’s temperature, it is suitable for ascertaining whether your infant has a fever. Once you take the baby’s temperature under the armpit, if you find she has a fever, you can take it again rectally to determine the extent of the fever, advises the Children’s Physician Network. Follow careful procedures to take the axillary temperature as accurately as possible.
Wipe the thermometer gently with the alcohol wipe.
Remove the baby’s shirt to ensure that the thermometer will be directly against the baby’s skin rather than against clothing. Cover the baby lightly with a receiving blanket if you desire.
Hold the baby so he is lying in your lap or place him on a firm surface.
Raise the baby’s arm gently and position the tip of the thermometer so it rests in the center fold of your baby’s armpit.
Position the baby’s arm snugly against his body with the forearm slightly toward the tummy and the elbow against the chest, suggests St. Clair Pediatrics. Hold the baby’s arm tightly in place so he cannot move it.
Hold your baby's arm still while the thermometer takes the reading. Most digital thermometers emit a beep when finished taking the temperature reading.
Lift the baby’s arm, remove the thermometer and read the temperature. A normal axillary temperature ranges between 97.6 degrees and 99.4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Einstein Healthcare Network.
Clean the thermometer with a second alcohol wipe and put it away.
Items you will need
- Digital thermometer (designed for axillary use)
- Alcohol wipes
- Receiving blanket
- If your baby’s temperature exceeds the normal range for an axillary temperature, retake it rectally.
- If you are using a mercury thermometer, leave it in place in your baby’s armpit for a minimum of four minutes, advises the “Paediatrics & Child Health Journal.”
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