Body temperature is measured with a digital or mercury thermometer. In younger children the axillary temperature must be recorded. In older children the oral temperature can be measured under the tongue. Rectal temperatures should not be taken.
If a mercury thermometer is used, always shake the mercury down before measuring a temperature. Leave the thermometer in the axilla for 1 to 2 minutes, with the arm held against the body, before reading the temperature. The normal axillary body temperature is 36.5 to 37 °C. If the axillary temperature is higher than 37 °C, the child has a fever. The normal oral temperature is slightly higher than the axillary temperature, with a normal range up to 37.5 °C. Always clean the thermometer before taking a child’s temperature.
If no thermometer is available, feel the child with you hand and assess whether they are normal, cold or hot.
Due to the small risk of mercury pollution or poisoning, a digital thermometer is preferred.