- Apr 18, 2018 -
When you are taking baby's temperature, you want to do it right. Taking an axillary temperature -- under the armpit -- is more time-consuming and often less accurate than taking a rectal temperature. For very young babies, the rectal method may be preferred for accuracy. But axillary temperatures can provide an adequate screening tool when you use the correct thermometer and follow some simple rules for achieving an accurate result.
Placing the Thermometer
To take an accurate axillary temperature, the thermometer point must fit snugly into your baby's armpit. If you don't get a snug fit, the reading you get will probably be too low. Make sure that your baby's clothing doesn't get between the thermometer and the skin. The baby's skin should completely surround the thermometer. Removing your baby's clothing will make it easier. Dry the armpit, since moisture conducts heat and may give a false reading. Place the thermometer as high up into the armpit as possible, with the tip pointing toward your baby's head. Hold your baby's arm down against his side to ensure that the tip of the thermometer is surrounded by skin.
Waiting Enough Time for an Accurate Reading
It may take a concerted effort to hold a thermometer in your infant's armpit for the length of time needed. According to an April 2006 study published in "Archives of Disease in Childhood," most digital thermometers will register within 40 to 80 seconds when taking an axillary temperature, and beep to let you know when to read it. If you get a reading that seems unusually low or high, try taking the temperature under the other armpit for a comparison, or using a different digital thermometer.