Rectal Temperature

For infants and children, the rectal temperature is the most accurate way of determining whether or not your child has a fever. Once a child is old enough to follow directions, oral temperatures may be used. The rectal thermometer has a short, stubby tip to prevent injury to the rectum. A normal rectal temperature is 99.6° F. (37.5° C.). It is 1° F higher than a normal oral temperature.

  • Avoid a glass thermometer unless this is the only thermometer you have.

  • Digital thermometers may be safer and easier to use than glass thermometers.


  • Lubricate the tip of the thermometer with petroleum jelly.

  • Place your child on his or her stomach.

  • Spread the buttock cheeks. Insert the thermometer gently into the anus until the tip is not visible (about ½ to 1 inch). Stop if you feel resistance.

  • Never leave your child or baby unattended with a thermometer in the rectum.

  • Remove the thermometer:

  • When you hear the signal (digital thermometer).

  • After 3 minutes (glass thermometer).