Discharge Instructions: Taking an Axillary Temperature (Pediatric)

Discharge Instructions: Taking an Axillary Temperature (Pediatric)

You take an axillary temperature by holding the thermometer under your baby's arm for 4 to 5 minutes. Do this with care to provide a correct reading. Remember, though, that taking a child's temperature under the arm is less accurate than taking the temperature in the rectum, especially for babies less than 3 months old.

Get the thermometer ready

  • Be sure to use a thermometer that is specifically designed for underarm use.
  • Remove the cover from the thermometer.
  • Clean the thermometer before each use.
  • Be sure the thermometer is at room temperature when you use it.

Position your baby

  • Hold your baby on your lap or lay the baby on his or her back on a firm surface.
  • Gently lift your baby's arm.
  • Place the tip of the thermometer in the fold of the baby's armpit. To get a true reading, the thermometer must rest directly against baby's skin on all sides.
  • Lower the arm back down to your baby's side.

Take the temperature

  • Follow the specific instructions for using your digital thermometer.
  • Keep your baby's arm against his or her side for 4 to 5 minutes. This keeps the thermometer in place and gives an accurate reading.
  • When the thermometer beeps, remove it and read the temprature on the dusplay.
  • Normal axillary temperature is about 97.6?F (36.4?C) to 99.4?F (37.4?C)
  • Before putting the thermometer away, clean it with soap and warm water and put the cover back on.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

When to Call Your Baby's Healthcare Provider

Call your your baby's healthcare provider right away if he or she has any of the following:

  • Bleeding from the area where you took the temperature
  • Fever of 100?F (37.7?C) or higher for a temperature taken under the arm (for baby younger than 3 months). Or a fever that rises to 104?F (40?C) for a child of any age.