Making sure your baby is the right temperature at all times is important. Sometimes, you’ll be able to spot if your baby has a fever just by touch. However, this isn’t always possible. If you think your baby is extremely hot or cold, you need to consult a doctor immediately. But how can you check this for yourself? With a baby thermometer. If you want to know a bit more about baby thermometers and how they work, then you’re in the right place. This article has all the info you need on a range of different types of thermometers, so you know how the technology you’re using to take your baby’s temperature really works.
Before you take your baby’s temperature
If you think your baby might be too hot (or too cold), you’ll want to take their temperature. Make sure you’re aware of what’s too hot or too cold for a baby, and when you’ll need to visit a doctor. However, remember that there are a few factors which could influence the temperature reading and make it seem higher or lower than it should be. If they have just got out of the hot bath or shower or have been wrapped up warmly, this might make the reading artificially high. In these instances, give your baby a few minutes to get back to normal temperature in a calm and quiet environment. Don’t let them get too cold or shivery, though.
What type of thermometer is right for your baby?
Children under five should only really place thermometers under their armpit. Other in-mouth thermometers are only recommended for older kids. Most baby thermometers these days are of the digital variety. These are accurate, fast and affordable, so they should probably be what you’re looking for. Get one when you don’t need it and store it safely, then you won’t be in a panic when you need it.
While digital thermometers are the best at the job, you don’t have to use one of those. In this article, we’re going to look at how a few different types of thermometers work so that you’ve got all the info you need.
How do traditional thermometers work?
To understand how digital and more advanced thermometers work, it’s a good idea to work out how traditional ones do their jobs. These often have mercury in them. That means you should not put them anywhere near a baby, especially in anyone’s mouth. But here’s how they work:
Simple traditional thermometers have a thin piece of glass that’s filled with mercury (or another similar solution). This solution expands as it gets warmer, and the amounts have been calculated to expand the correct amount to correspond with different temperatures on the side of the unit (next to the glass tube that stored the liquid). It’s really that simple.
So how do digital thermometers work?
Now you know how traditional thermometers work, we can start to look at more advanced models. Like digital thermometers. One of the main issues with mercury thermometers (apart from that they use mercury) is that they take a while to react and move to the correct temperature, and aren’t that accurate to read. Digital electronic thermometers don’t have this problem.
The probe of an electronic thermometer simply touches what you’re trying to take the temp of and gives an accurate reading straight away, or within a few seconds. But how do they actually work? Let’s have a look…
Electronic thermometers are based on resistance, or the ease at which electricity flows through a piece of metal. This will change as the temperature changes. As the metal increases in temperature, atoms will vibrate more inside it which will in turn make it harder for electricity to flow. That makes the resistance level go up. On the other hand, as the metal gets colder, more freedom of movement is allowed in the metal and resistance goes down.
So these electronic thermometers work with this principle by sending electricity voltage across the unit’s probe and measures how much is allowed through. Putting the probe near something at boiling point will make electricty flow through with much more difficulty, this will affect the resistance at a measureable amount. The digital reader then measures this level of resistance so it can calculate and display a temperature. All of this goes on in a matter of seconds, and if you take the thermometer away and put it somewhere cold, the temperature on the reading will change almost instantly.
There’s a microchip inside the unit that converts the resistance reading into an accurate temperature measurement.
One drawback of this type of thermometer is because they’re so instant and accurate, they can change quite often rather than give you a steady reading of something.
Most baby thermometers are of the digital king, although a few other types are available. THere are lots of other types of digital thermometers, like meat thermometers that make sure you’ve cooked your food to the right temperature. Don’t get these mixed up, and don’t use a meat thermometer on your baby, that could be unhygienic! Another benefit of digital thermometers is that they can ready Fahrenheit or celsius as the tiny computer can make conversions if necessary.
When taking a baby’s temperature, don’t leave them unattended with the thermometer. Take care and hold it in place under their armpit. Make sure the baby isn’t in pain and hold it there for a few seconds. If you’re unsure about the reading, phone or visit your doctor immediately. Baby thermometers can be purchased from your local pharmacy or even supermarket. They’re a lot more affordable than you might think. Some might come with batteries included, but these might also need to be purchased. Have the extra peace of mind from knowing you’ve got a thermometer ready for when you might need it.