Skip to content

    Children's Health

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Rectal Temperature

    h9991809_001.jpg

    A rectal thermometer is the most accurate way to take a temperature.

    To take a rectal temperature:

    1. Apply a lubricant jelly or petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, on the bulb of the thermometer, so that you can insert it easily.
    2. Choose a quiet place so that the child won't be distracted or move around too much. When measuring the temperature of babies or small children:
      • Place your child faceup with legs bent toward the chest with your hand on the back of the thighs or holding the feet as if you were changing a diaper.
      • Place the child facedown on your lap or on a flat covered or padded surface, such as a bed.
    3. Gently insert the bulb end of the rectal thermometer about 0.6 in. (1.5 cm) to 1 in. (2.5 cm) into the anal canal. Don't force it into the rectum. Hold the thermometer in place with two fingers close to the anal opening (not near the end of the thermometer).
    4. Leave the thermometer in place for the required amount of time, usually a minute. Some digital thermometers give a series of short beeps when the reading is done. Time yourself with a watch or clock.
    5. Remove the thermometer and read it.
    6. Clean a digital thermometer with cool, soapy water, and rinse it off before putting it away.
    7. After a thermometer has been used to take a rectal temperature, do not use it to take an oral temperature.

    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
    Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics

    Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
     
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.
     

    worried kid
    fitArticle
    jennifer aniston
    Slideshow
     
    Measles virus
    Article
    sick child
    Slideshow
     

    babyapp
    New
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow
     
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
    Syringes and graph illustration
    Tool