Forehead Thermometer versus Ear Thermometer: Which is Better?

By Cherub Baby

A must have household item for new parents is of course a baby thermometer. We all know that fever in children can strike anytime, often in the wee hours of the night without warning. As a parent, you don’t want to be caught unprepared; you need to be armed with a reliable thermometer so that you know when to seek medical attention for your baby.

The real question is which thermometer is right got me? These days are several types of baby thermometers on the market. They include digital sticks, glass thermometers, pacifiers, and infrared thermometers, which can take readings from the ear, rectum, mouth, forehead and under the arm. With so many options, understandably many parents are confused as to which is the best for their child. Thermometers have several features that vary from thermometer to thermometer, however the two main things to look out for in a good thermometer is accurate readings and ease of use.

Some of the favorite picks among parents are infrared forehead and ear thermometers. How do these two thermometers work and which is the best? This article will explain how they function and outline their pros and cons to help you decide which may be right for you.

Forehead Thermometer

The forehead thermometer is also known as the temporal artery thermometer. It uses infrared technology to detect the temperature of the temporal artery on your baby’s forehead. For most you simply swipe the thermometer across your baby’s forehead or gently press the probe against the babies temple and voila! You have a reading. 

For newborn infants younger than 3 months, rectal digital thermometers have been acclaimed as the most accurate. The issue here of course is ease of use and discomfort for baby. New studies, however, indicate that the forehead thermometer can be reliably used with newborns.

Advantages of the Forehead Thermometer

1. Easy to Use

You simply swipe the thermometer across your baby's forehead or press it against the temple (be sure to read the exact instructions for each thermometer as this may vary slightly). Whether your baby is fussy or fast asleep, the forehead thermometer is non-intrusive and super easy to use.


2. Fast

The forehead thermometer enables you to get your baby’s temperature reading in a flash. Most forehead thermometers will produce a beeping sound when they are done taking the reading. Time is always of the essence especially with a sick child and this thermometer ensures you do not waste any.

Disadvantages of the Forehead Thermometer


1. Costly

The forehead thermometer is among the most expensive thermometers in the market. 

2. Varying Readings

You may need to take 2-3 readings and use the average to identify your baby’s real temperature. This is because the temperature readings may vary depending on how you swipe the thermometer. For most parents, it takes some getting used to before they can master the art of picking an accurate temperature. 

3. Heat Sensitive

The forehead thermometer is sensitive to heat. Changes in the environment may, therefore, affect its accuracy. Also, if your baby is sweaty, this may also alter the accuracy of the reading.

Ear Thermometer

The ear thermometer is also known as the tympanic thermometer. Like the forehead thermometer, it also uses infrared technology to read the temperature inside your baby’s ear canal. To use it, you insert the tip of the thermometer inside your baby’s ear canal and press the button. 

Advantages of the Ear Thermometer

1. Fast

Many brands merely take seconds to get a reading using the ear thermometer. It, therefore, saves parents their time. And although it is intrusive, it doesn't need to be in the ear for long. 

2. Accurate

If inserted correctly in the ear canal, the ear thermometer gives a very accurate reading and is, therefore, a reliable way of picking your baby's temperature.

Disadvantages of the Ear Thermometer

1. Invasive

The ear thermometer has to be placed inside your baby’s ear canal for an accurate reading. Parents often have to pull their babies ears and tilt their little heads to access the ear canal, a process most babies find downright uncomfortable and if they squirm around it can effect the reliability of the reading.

2. Can't be used if the baby has an ear infection

If your child has an ear infection or a lot of wax in their ears, the reading taken using an ear thermometer may be greatly altered. 

3. Can’t be used on young babies

It is not recommended for babies under 6 months as their ear canals are still too small.

So which of the Two Thermometers is Best?

Each of these two infrared thermometers have their pros and cons. As discussed, the ear thermometer may provide extremely accurate readings with older children who do not mind feeling the thermometer in their ears. 

For parents with younger children, the forehead thermometer is ideal as it is gentle and non-intrusive.
The answer is that one is not better than the other, they are simply suited for different children. But what of households that have both older children and infants? Do such parents have to buy multiple thermometers? Is there a thermometer that can be used for children of all ages?
A great option for such families is the Cherub Baby 4 in 1 Infrared Digital Ear and Forehead Thermometer.
A 5-time winner of the Mother and Baby best thermometer award, here are some features mums love:


• Takes both forehead and ear readings

• Takes readings in just 1 second

• Simply clean with an alcohol wipe (No need for expensive probe covers)

• Has a built-in flashlight (a lifesaver in the middle of the night)

• Readings above 38 degrees Celsius produce a fever alarm

• Stores the previous 32 readings for your reference (can also store readings for different children).

There you have it! Whichever thermometer you choose, it is sure to help you along your parenting journey!

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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