Babies have immature immune systems and therefore are prone to picking up every bug and infection going around, particularly during the colder months. It’s said that babies develop up to twelve colds in their first year, and a common symptom of the common cold in babies is fever and high temperatures.
Fevers in babies are serious. In very young newborn babies under three months of age, you should call your doctor immediately or take him to the emergency room if he develops a fever, and for babies under six months, any temperature over 38ºC warrants a call to your doctor. Early childhood immunisations can also cause fever as a side effect and you should monitor your baby’s temperature carefully after every immunisation.
Because of the seriousness of fever in babies as well as how common they are, your first aid kit will absolutely need a thermometer that is accurate, easy to use and otherwise reliable. With so many on the market, we help you make sense of it all, from discussing the different types, how they work, and which are the best for you and your family.
From here, you can jump directly to the list of baby thermometers, or you can keep reading our buying guide for parents.
Types of baby thermometers
Gone are the days of the old style, mercury filled glass thermometers your mind might jump to when you think of thermometers. Although still in circulation, they are no longer recommended primarily because the glass they are made of can easily break in or outside of the body, and the escaping mercury is toxic, especially to babies.
These days, thermometers are digital and there are several different types available to you which differ slightly in their operation, features and levels of accuracy. Following are the different types of thermometers we have featured in our buying guide.
- Digital probe. The most basic type of baby thermometer, you’ll likely find one of these in every first aid kit you come across. Digital probe thermometers are also considered the most accurate and can be used in three ways: orally (under the tongue), axillary (under the armpit) or rectally, although this is sometimes not advised as you risk damaging the delicate skin in this area. The main drawback to this type of thermometer is it takes longer than other types to determine a reading.
- Ear thermometer. These are designed specially to fit into the entrance of your baby’s ear, and use an infrared ray to read the temperature inside the ear canal. You’ve probably noticed that your GP uses this type of thermometer in their surgery as they are very quick and easy to use, and those with disposable probe covers are also extremely hygienic. They are generally less accurate than other types and are best used for a quick check before following up with a more accurate thermometer if there are any concerns. Further, there could be reduced accuracy in those with earwax build up or small or curved ear canals, as well as very small, newborn babies as their ear canals are not yet large enough to accommodate the probe.
- Forehead thermometer. These thermometers measure the temperature of the temporal artery in the forehead within seconds, and are probably the easiest to use; simply hover over the forehead. A major advantage of these thermometers is you can use them without waking or disturbing your baby as very little, if any, contact is needed. Because of this they are also extremely hygienic.
- Smart thermometer. Just like your smartphone or smart TV, a smart thermometer goes way beyond its original function to deliver the ultimate in usability and features. Paired to an app or other device, it will store your data for future use, allow you to share this with family or your doctor, and even give health advice based on the readings received.
- Combination thermometer. The most versatile type, combination thermometers offer other uses aside from simply taking the temperature of baby, commonly as a room, food or liquid thermometer using non contact infrared rays. In this way, you can quickly take the temperature of, for example, baby’s bedroom so you know how many layers to dress him in, or his bottle to ensure it’s at the correct temperature. This is undoubtedly very convenient however it should be noted that combination thermometers are typically less accurate than other types.
Which thermometer is most accurate for babies?
Digital probe thermometers are generally accepted as the most accurate at-home thermometer, often providing results accurate to +/-0.1ºC with the correct use, and are suitable for use in very young babies all the way to adulthood.
You can expect more reliable results when used orally or rectally (rather than axillary, in the armpit). With oral readings however, you should allow at least fifteen minutes to elapse after eating or drinking before taking the temperature as the temperature of the food can alter the temperature inside the mouth. You should also make sure that the mouth is fully closed around the thermometer. As a very young baby may struggle with this, rectal readings will provide a very accurate reading however be sure that you are very careful in order to avoid damaging the delicate skin in the area.
Digital thermometers use electronic heat sensors to determine a reading and results are not instantaneous, with wait times up to several minutes. Because of this, many families use a faster thermometer initially, and if the reading is high, follow up with a digital probe thermometer for accurate results.
Which type of thermometer is best for speed?
If it’s important to you to get a very fast reading, then forehead, ear and combination thermometers are the way to go.
The infrared rays used in these types of thermometers determine the temperature within just a few seconds, sometimes even less than one second. So fast your baby won’t even notice, it’s perfect for babies who are fussy or won’t lie still for long enough to use other, slower types of thermometers.
Also ideal to use on sleeping babies as there is very minimal contact, if any, you can get the job done quickly without disturbing or waking him up.
Best baby thermometers: our top 12 pics
Following is a list of the best baby thermometers Australia has on offer right now, covering all types and price points.
1. Withings Thermo (smart)
The Rolls Royce of baby thermometers
This incredibly sophisticated thermometer gives results in seconds and syncs with the Thermo app, available free on iOS and Android, where you can record readings over time, set reminders and make related notes and comments. It even gives health advice based on temperature readings and history which you can share easily with your doctor.
Completely contact free and hygienic, simply hover the thermometer 1cm above the forehead where sixteen infrared sensors give the reading instantly on the smart display, which is even colour coded to let you know if the temperature is normal or high depending on the age of the user.
Unlike other contactless or forehead thermometers, the Thermo is high in accuracy as it measures from the temporal artery, where the circulating blood comes right from the body’s core.
Useful to track temperatures and symptoms over time, it’s also perfect for the whole family. Up to eight users can create profiles all paired to the one device for the ultimate in ease and peace of mind.
best for newborns
2. Braun Thermoscan 7 (ear)
High quality ear thermometer for accurate use even in newborn babies
Trusted brand Braun presents this high quality ear thermometer which is just like the one you see in your GP’s surgery. Featuring patented Age Precision technology, it cleverly takes the age of your baby into consideration when determining if a fever is present or not.
This is our best ear thermometer for babies as it features a wide angle probe for accurate measurements in newborns as well as adults, and multiple studies have found that it’s as accurate as rectal readings. Super easy and fast to use, simply position it in your baby’s ear and wait for the light and audible beep which lets you know it’s been positioned correctly. You’ll hardly disturb your baby when taking his temperature, and the colour coded display makes reading the results absolutely foolproof.
The last nine readings are stored in the device so you can track your baby’s temperature over time and there’s even a handy inbuilt night light for taking temperatures in the dark. The included disposable probe covers help to maintain high levels of hygiene between users.
3. Cherub Baby 5-in-1 (combination)
Versatile and accurate, our best all rounder
This versatile thermometer can be used to take the temperature of baby either by touchless forehead reading or by ear reading, both returning a result in just one second. Additionally, it can take the temperature of bath water, other liquids, like formula in a bottle, or even as a room thermometer, so it’s the only thermometer you’ll need.
Accuscan technology ensures an accurate reading to +/-0.2ºC by recording a continuous reading across a wider area to obtain more consistent data which has been confirmed by many happy users. The backlit LCD display is clear and easy to read and alerts you by changing colour to orange or red if it detects a slight or high fever so you can take action with confidence.
With one touch operation and easy wipe clean surfaces, the Cherub Baby 5 in 1 is no fuss and easy to maintain. Fast, reliable and versatile, this is our best all round digital thermometer for baby.
best for kids
4. Nurofen for Children FeverSmart (smart)
Unique thermometer that measures temperature in realtime
This clever thermometer provides realtime monitoring of your baby’s temperature, with continuous syncing to the FeverSmart app which is free to download.
Simply attach the soft and flexible patch to your baby’s underarm with the adhesive sensor down. The patch pairs to the base via bluetooth, with a generous range of up to 40m, and then syncs to the app which will display the current temperature reading, storing it for up to 72 hours. If your baby’s temperature rises to a dangerous level, you will be alerted visually and audibly even with the app running in the background. The advantage of this is you can act immediately to relieve your baby’s discomfort. This is also the best thermometer for kids as no amount of wriggling or squirming will be able to unstick the patch!
The FeverSmart is particularly useful if you want to monitor or show your doctor the changes in your child’s temperature accurately over a period of time. Non obtrusive and easy to use while baby is sleeping, it’s accurate to +/-0.2ºC for peace of mind however keep in mind that this can vary depending on environmental factors and the positioning of your baby.
5. Puluz YT-8551 (combination)
Our best ergonomic, no contact option
This no contact forehead thermometer uses infrared to read temperatures across the forehead accurately in just one second. As well as easily taking the temperature of baby, you can also use this thermometer to measure the temperature of the room or cup of milk or other liquid, making it multifunctional and extremely convenient.
Its ergonomically shaped design is easy to hold with comfortable hand grips and the trigger used to take the temperature is intuitive. You can choose between celsius and fahrenheit readings and switch between the two easily, and you’re alerted of a high body temperature by sound.
There are several buttons used to operate the various functions, such as forward and back buttons to view previous readings and turning the backlight on and off. Because of this, this thermometer can be more fiddly than other, more streamlined models, however once you get the hang of it its operation and functions are easy to use.
6. Cherub Baby 4-in-1 (combination)
Award winning thermometer, versatile and compact for everyday use
The Cherub Baby 4 in 1 is a multi use, combination thermometer that can be used either in the ear or the forehead, making it an ideal choice for sleeping babies.
Completely safe and hygienic with no probe covers necessary, it’s compact, lightweight and reliable and has all the convenient features you’d hope for, such as a fever indicator and auto shut off. The thermometer stores the last 32 readings for your reference and even features a handy flashlight and backlit LCD display for use during the night.
Its simple one touch operation delivers results in less than one second and is tested to be accurate to +/-0.2ºC. Considered hospital grade, the Cherub Baby 4 in 1 has won multiple Mother and Baby awards and is a firm favourite for ease of use and accuracy, making it one of the best children’s thermometer for everyday use.
7. Oricom Non-Contact Infrared (forehead)
The best baby forehead thermometer offers trusted hygiene and accuracy
Registered as a medical device on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, you can be confident that the Oricom Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer will deliver accurate results within seconds, first time, every time. It can store up to 32 recorded temperatures so you can keep track of any changes and has an extra large, high contrast backlit LCD display screen for easy reading no matter the lighting.
As its name suggests, this thermometer offers the ultimate in hygiene as it never contacts the body, reducing the risk of virus transmission to virtually zero. It’s completely non invasive so your baby won’t even know you’re taking his temperature, perfect for sleeping or fussy babies.
This is a simple thermometer that does what it needs to do – take temperatures reliably – without extra bells or whistles, and is recommended as a worthwhile inclusion to any family’s first aid kit.
8. Oricom NFS100 (forehead)
Reminds you when it’s time to take baby’s temperature
Oricom is well known amongst both parents and the medical community for manufacturing quality baby products, and the NFS100 thermometer is no different. With one push you can get an accurate reading in just three seconds with no contact necessary.
The digital display is not the largest on the market but easy enough to read. Our favourite feature is that the thermometer reminds you with a subtle beep when it’s time to check your baby’s temperature again, so you can be confident you’re up to date and that baby is comfortable. It remembers the last eight readings
The ergonomic shape of the thermometer is easy to hold and a convenient case is included so you can pack your thermometer away safely and hygienically after each use. For total peace of mind, this thermometer is included as a medical device on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods for the purpose of taking body temperatures so you know it’s a quality product you can trust.
9. Ritalia Baby Thermometer (combination)
Multifunction thermometer combines versatility with ease of use
This infrared thermometer is a user friendly option for those who want multiple functions in one simple to use unit. Take baby’s temperature by ear or no contact forehead, or change modes to reliably take the temperature of objects such as baby’s milk or food.
Three clearly marked buttons are used to operate the thermometer. There’s a fever alarm which changes the LCD display’s colour, as well as the option to mute the sound so you don’t wake baby. The auto off function saves power and it remembers the last 35 temperatures taken so you can easily track baby’s temperature over the course of the illness.
With a high quality, strong construction, the Ritalia baby thermometer feels sturdy in your hands so you won’t need to worry about breakages if you accidentally drop it. No expensive, fiddly probe covers are needed, simply give the unit a quick wipe down after use to maintain its hygiene.
best for accuracy
10. Vicks Fever Insight (digital probe)
This reliable, one button digital probe is best for accuracy
The Vicks Fever Insight is suitable for oral, underarm or rectal use and delivers very fast results by digital probe standards – get your reading with professional accuracy in just 8 seconds. This is ideal for parents who trust and prefer the digital probe type of thermometer but whose children are extra wriggly or otherwise won’t sit or lie still for long.
Reliable and very easy to use with just one button, it has a memory recall feature and auto shut off so the batteries aren’t wasted.
The colour changing display changes from green to orange to red to alert you of high temperatures at a glance and is easy to see and interpret even in low light. The large size of the display also offers a convenient place to hold the thermometer comfortably between your fingers, so you won’t need to worry about it dropping through your fingers and having to start all over again.
11. Safety 1st Quick Read (ear)
Convenient, compact, quick and accurate with a budget friendly price
Get an accurate reading in just one second with the Safety 1st Quick Read Ear Thermometer.
Ultra compact in size, it will fit into any first aid kit or bag and includes a probe cover for high levels of hygiene during storage or transportation. Despite the small size of the thermometer, the design is still quite ergonomic in the hand and easy to hold and the digital display screen is large for maximum readability.
The convenient fever alert lights up the screen to let you know if your baby’s temperature has risen to a concerningly high level, removing any guesswork and allowing you to take immediate action. Included with the thermometer is a handy fever chart for easy reference and the memory recall feature saves the last 12 readings.
12. Chicco Flex Night (digital probe)
Ultimate accuracy with a soft, flexible tip for comfort
This simple digital probe thermometer is basic in its features but is also reliable and easy to use. It features a fast reading time of ten seconds, alerting you with a beep when ready, which is easily read off the large backlit display screen making it equally convenient to use at night.
The standout feature of this thermometer is its soft, flexible tip, offering the most comfort for young babies when taking their temperature, and also helping to keep the probe stay in place for wriggly babies. Reading temperatures either orally, axillary or rectally, there’s just one simple button to press for no fuss.
This is a dependable thermometer that is cheap enough that you can afford to throw one in each first aid kit or nappy bag when travelling for peace of mind wherever you go.