The 9 best baby thermometers to buy in 2020

14 May 2020

best baby thermometer

When your baby is unwell, a reliable baby thermometer is a must so that you know when to take action. But how do you know which type to go for and which work well? We’ve done the legwork for you and sourced the nine best baby thermometers to buy right now.

Due to high demand in the current climate, some thermometers we recommend may occasionally be out of stock. Please continue to check back regularly.

We should all have a decent baby thermometer in the medicine cabinet for those inevitable times when our child's temperature suddenly shoots up, but it’s something parents don't often think about until their children are actually poorly.

It’s worth taking precautions and investing in a decent baby thermometer for when the time comes. To unearth the best baby thermometers on the UK market, we consulted expert advice from the NHS and trawled the Mumsnet forums for recommendations from parents on which models they found worked best and why.

We also researched several review websites, including Which?, to compare their findings with our own, and studied parent reviews as well as online best buys.

We looked for thermometers that showed accuracy over repeat readings, were simple to use and had additional features that made parents’ lives easier.

Here are the best baby thermometers to buy in 2020.

1. Braun ThermoScan 7 with Age Precision

“The Braun in-ear is worth every penny!”

1. Braun ThermoScan 7 with Age Precision

A reliable ear thermometer from a trusted brand that’s easy to use and is regularly recommended by doctors and parents alike.

Braun has been a bestseller for a number of years, trusted by parents for its simple functionality and accuracy, and this latest model comes with age precision technology to alert you to a fever (the temperature for a fever differs with age).

It’s slightly gimmicky but does mean that, in the middle of the night when you can’t remember at what stage you should start to worry, you only need to input your child’s age. A simple traffic-light system will then tell you whether you need to take action or just snuggle them back to sleep with a dose of Calpol.

The Braun ThermoScan 7 is very simple to use: just switch it on, select your child’s age, insert the tip (pre-warmed for comfort) into your baby’s ear, wait for the light and beep to confirm accurate placing, and then it gives you a reading on the backlit screen – colour coded to help you interpret the results.

The memory can store your last nine readings (allowing you to see if your child's temperature is rising or falling), and it comes with 21 disposable caps for hygiene purposes. The tip also has a wide-angled probe which means it can be used for the whole family, including newborns.

The backlit screen is really useful for taking a reading in a dark nursery, but the buttons aren’t backlit, which is the only thing we’d change about this thermometer. Because you have to input the age before inserting it into the ear, it would be handy to be able to see what you’re doing.

It also beeps as it takes a reading (though not too loudly) which might wake a sleeping baby.

Overall, though, you’re getting a lot for your money and this is a nice design that both parents and professionals rave about. You can’t go far wrong with one of these.

Pros

  • Fever guidance related to age
  • Easy to operate
  • Backlit screen is handy for nighttime use

Cons

  • Beeps could disturb a sleeping baby
  • Buttons could do with being backlit (they aren't)

Specs

  • Type: Digital ear thermometer
  • Retailers: Amazon, Argos, Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy and Superdrug
  • RRP: £54.99
Buy now from Superdrug

2. Braun Digital Thermometer with Age Precision

“I have a Braun Precision. I use it in the armpit and recommend it. It’s consistent when testing more than once – and consistent with my GP’s readings.”

2. Braun Digital Thermometer with Age Precision

This 'traditional' digital stick thermometer comes at a great price and is small enough to fit into a handbag too.

It uses Braun’s age precision feature, which recognises that a fever is lower for babies than for older children and adults.

Simply select the age of your child before each use and the thermometer will give a clear temperature reading. A red, yellow or green background will help you interpret the reading – really useful in those panicked moments when you can’t remember how hot is too hot for a newborn.

The tip of the thermometer is BPA-free, pre-warmed so it doesn’t feel cold to the touch, and is flexible too, so you don’t have to worry about wriggly babies snapping it. Just pop under their armpit and it takes a reading within eight seconds.

It also features a fever alarm system to alert you when your child is too hot and can recall the last temperature taken.

A good choice for the early days when you might want an armpit thermometer or a spare, it has all of Braun’s design expertise in a small package and at a really good price.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Fever alarm system – tells you when your baby is too hot

Cons

  • Not as advanced as Braun's ThermoScan 7

Specs

  • Type: Digital stick thermometer
  • Retailers: Superdrug, Argos, Amazon, Boot and Lloyds Pharmacy
  • RRP: £16.99
Buy now from Superdrug

3. Motorola Smart In-Ear Thermometer

3. Motorola Smart In-Ear Thermometer

Motorola's Smart In-Ear Thermometer takes readings in just under a second – always a plus when you have a feverish child on your hands.

It’s backlit for easy readings in dark nurseries and has the option to turn off beeps, which we liked, so no sleeping babies are woken. There are no disposable covers with it, so you need to give it a clean with a cotton bud and an alcohol-based cleaner between readings.

One handy extra is that this thermometer can also be used to check the temperature of fluids such as bath water and warm milk: just point the probe at the water or milk (don’t drop it!) and press the button.

It also has a fever alarm that goes off when a temperature reads above 38, and there’s a nifty reminder alarm for medicines and doctor appointments.

The ‘smart’ aspect of this thermometer is that you can connect the thermometer to an app, so temperature readings are beamed to your phone – you can track them easily and share with family or your GP if you need to.

You can also track temperatures for up to four profiles so, if you’re monitoring two or more poorly kids at once, it’s easy to keep track of how everyone is doing.

Reviews suggest that the app sometimes takes a while to update and also can drain your phone battery quite fast if it’s running in the background, but it’s a neat idea that tech-headed parents might find useful. There’s a range of other Motorola products that also synch up with the Smart Nursery app.

Pros

  • Connects to the Smart Nursery app
  • Has fever and reminder alarms
  • Can be used with up to four kids at once

Cons

  • App can be a bit slow and may drain your phone battery

Specs

  • Type: Digital ear thermometer
  • Retailers: John Lewis and Amazon
  • RRP: £34.99
Buy now from John Lewis & Partners

4. Tommee Tippee Digital Ear Thermometer

4. Tommee Tippee Digital Ear Thermometer

This simple digital ear thermometer from the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature range is really easy to use, with a scan button that gives a clear reading on the LCD display in just one second.

There aren’t any bells and whistles with this thermometer (some backlighting would be handy), but it does what it says on the tin and for a good price.

It has a fever alert – one long beep followed by three short beeps – so you know when a temperature is really high, and the LCD display is clear, though you would have to step out of a dark nursery to read it. It also stores up to nine readings to help you track your child’s temperature.

The small ear probe means you can even use it for newborns and it comes with eight hygiene covers as well.

Pros

  • Fever alert
  • Stores up to nine readings at any one time
  • Can be used with newborns

Cons

  • Display not easy to read in the dark

Specs

  • Type: Digital ear thermometer
  • Retailers: Tommee Tippee, Argos, Boots, Amazon, Mamas & Papas, ASDA and others
  • RRP: £37.99
Buy now from Argos

5. Kinetik Wellbeing Inner Ear Thermometer

5. Kinetik Wellbeing Inner Ear Thermometer

Kinetik's Inner Ear Thermometer is a decent budget thermometer, developed in association with St John’s Ambulance. If you can’t afford to splurge, this would do the job admirably for a fraction of the cost of most digital ear thermometers.

There’s no backlight or any other frills, but it’s very simple to use and clear to read. Just insert into the ear, press the button and wait for the beep to read the temperature. Reviews suggest it’s pretty accurate, too.

It stores up to 10 readings, which is handy, and comes with a travel pouch so it’s easy to sling in your bag if you’re going away. The only expense we foresee is that it comes with 20 hygiene covers so you’ll need to buy more of those at some point (around £10 for 40).

Unlike some of the pricier models, the Kinetik is not suitable for babies under six months as their ear canals can be too small for a standard probe.

While there’s nothing ‘wow’ about the Kinetik, at less than £20 we really can’t find fault with it.

Pros

  • Simple to use
  • Stores up to 10 readings at a time
  • Comes with a travel pouch
  • 20 hygiene covers included

Cons

  • Can't be used with babies under six months old
  • Screen isn't backlit

Specs

  • Type: Digital ear thermometer
  • Retailers: Kinetik, Argos, Superdrug, Amazon and Tesco
  • RRP: £19.99
Buy now from Argos

6. Boots Non-Contact Thermometer

“I have a Boots no-touch and it's amazing.”

6. Boots Non-Contact Thermometer

This non-contact thermometer takes a temperature with no fuss. Just point the machine two to three centimetres from your child’s forehead and move it around. Ideal for taking quick nighttime readings without waking them.

It’s worth noting, however, that you have to ensure the forehead is free from perspiration and hair before taking a reading. This is typical of most non-contact models though.

The illuminated display is easy to read in the dark and the smiley and sad face symbols make it simple to interpret a reading too. Any temperature of 38 or over gets a sad face.

The thermometer stores up to 60 readings. We’re not sure why you’d want that many, but it’s a lot more than most offer.

Pros

  • Stores up to 60 readings
  • Easy-to-read display
  • Non-contact

Cons

  • May take some getting used to

Specs

  • Type: Digital forehead thermometer
  • Retailers: Boots
  • RRP: £39.99
Buy now from Boots

7. Braun No Touch and Touch Forehead Thermometer

“I have this one and it's great.”

7. Braun No Touch and Touch Forehead Thermometer

Takes your baby’s temperature using infrared technology on the forehead (or can be touched to the forehead to use on yourself) in just a couple of seconds from up to 5cm away.

This handheld thermometer is super simple to use, with a button for ‘on’ and another to take the temperature. A guidance system on the unit makes it clear when you have the thermometer in the correct position so you can’t mess it up.

The Braun No Touch and Touch Forehead Thermometer beeps when ready and the reading is given on a backlit screen so no struggles to see it in the dark. The screen turns green for a normal temperature, amber for elevated and red for high.

We like that you can turn the sound off to save disturbing your baby when asleep, and the fact that you can use this to test the temperature of food, milk and bath water (all from a 5cm distance, of course) is a plus.

It doesn’t have any ability to record previous temperatures, which is a shame but, other than that, it’s a very impressive piece of kit and pleasingly easy to use.

Pros

  • Helps you take to accurate readings every time
  • Backlit screen – ideal for nighttime
  • Can be used on milk, baby food and bath water

Cons

  • Can't record previous temperatures

Specs

  • Type: Digital forehead thermometer
  • Retailers: Boots, Amazon and Argos
  • RRP: £54.99
Buy now from Argos

8. Tommee Tippee No Touch Digital Head Thermometer

8. Tommee Tippee No Touch Digital Head Thermometer

With a simple and clever design plus a few handy extras, the Tommee Tippee No Touch is (as the name suggests) a non-contact thermometer that reads temperatures using infrared technology. You simply switch it on, point it at your child's forehead and click for a temperature reading in two seconds.

It stores up to 25 temperatures and has a fever alert feature to make it clear if your baby is too warm. The display is easy to read too – the temperature appears on the backlit LCD display and remains for one minute before the machine switches itself off.

This model can also take surface temperature, which is useful for checking milk, bath water and food, and you can switch between modes fairly easily.

It’s a nice shape to hold and a good choice if you’re looking for a thermometer that's really simple to use.

Pros

  • Non-contact
  • Stores up to 25 temperatures at once
  • Can be used for checking the temperature of milk and baby food
  • Ergonomic shape

Cons

  • Beeps – could wake a sleeping baby

Specs

  • Type: Digital forehead thermometer
  • Retailers: Tommee Tippee, Amazon, John Lewis, Tesco, Ocado, Very, ASDA, Mamas & Papas and others
  • RRP: £49.99
Buy now from Tommee Tippee

9. Brother Max 3-in-1 Digital Thermometer

9. Brother Max 3-in-1 Digital Thermometer

The Brother Max 3-in-1 Digital Thermometer can be used on the forehead, in the ear or to check the temperature of a nursery.

In room-thermometer mode, it has a stand that can either sit on any surface or be hung from the wall. It’s backlit so you can read it easily in the dark.

To use it to take your child’s temperature, remove it from its stand, flip the back cover up and choose either ear or forehead mode. You hold the button down and scan it across the forehead or insert into the ear and depress the button, as you would with any simpler model. It takes a reading in just one second.

It’s slightly more accurate in in-ear mode than in forehead, but it’s great to have both options so you can take your baby's temperature even when they have ear ache or are fast asleep.

Its multiple modes means it’s also suitable from birth and can be used for the whole family. The fact that it also doubles as a room thermometer makes it especially good value, and we were really impressed by its stylish looks and clever design features.

Plus, if it’s there in your baby’s nursery on the wall you’ll never be scrabbling around in the medicine box in the night when your baby feels warm.

Pros

  • Can be used in three ways, including as a room thermometer
  • Great value for what it offers
  • Suitable to use on newborns

Cons

  • Not as accurate in forehead mode as in ear

Specs

  • Type: Digital ear, forehead and room thermometer
  • Retailers: Boots, John Lewis and Amazon
  • RRP: £37.99

Want something a bit cheaper? Try the Brother Max 2-in-1 Thermometer instead

Buy now from Boots
digital baby thermometer

Baby thermometers buyer’s guide

All you need to know about choosing the best baby thermometer for you and how to use it.

Why do I need a baby thermometer?

Now more than ever, with COVID-19 doing the rounds, it’s important to be able to tell exactly how hot your child is. But a baby thermometer is also handy for all those ordinary colds and sniffles your baby will no doubt go through.

It’s also useful for times like teething to be able to tell if they’re just flushed and grumpy or are actually running a temperature.

Babies’ temperatures can rise very quickly and also fall just as fast, and it’s often a good indicator of whether they are on the mend or getting worse. In the unlikely event that your baby is ever seriously ill, you’ll be glad to have a decent thermometer on hand if you need to call your doctor to give an idea of symptoms.

What type of thermometer is best for babies?

A digital thermometer is best. The NHS advises that old mercury thermometers are not suitable for babies and that digital versions are more accurate.

They also advise that strip thermometers – the sort you put on a child’s forehead, but not to be confused with the new digital forehead or no-contact thermometers – are not accurate enough to be suitable.

A digital ear thermometer, digital stick (inserted under the armpit), or a no-contact or forehead digital thermometer is best.

How does a digital ear thermometer work?

Digital ear thermometers are simply inserted into the ear, after which you click a button and it gives you a digital reading.

While they are one of the most popular types of baby thermometers to use, they can sometimes be too large for the ears of very small babies, so do check this before you buy, especially if you have a newborn.

You also need to make sure you have inserted it exactly as instructed or it may not take an accurate reading.

How do no-touch digital thermometers work?

The newer no-touch (sometimes called non-contact) thermometers can be aimed at your child’s forehead, enabling you to take a reading without even touching them.

As with any baby thermometer, you need them to stay still while the reading is taken, but these are really quick for taking the temperature of a sleeping child as you’re less likely to wake them.

What are digital stick thermometers?

These are digital versions of old-fashioned glass and mercury thermometers, only safer to use and more accurate.

For use on older children, you can put it under their tongue, but you can also use it under the armpit. They can sometimes be used rectally too.

Digital stick thermometers tend to be the cheapest type of thermometer on the market and also the most compact. It’s worth having one just to pop in your bag or take away with you even if you’re investing in a larger, fancier ear or non-contact version.

Are forehead thermometers accurate enough?

The old-fashioned strip-style thermometers aren’t, no. They actually only measure the temperature of the skin, not the body.

But the newer no-touch thermometers that are aimed at the head are usually fine to use as they’re using infrared technology to check body temperature rather than skin.

How do you take a baby’s temperature?

The NHS advises using a digital thermometer, and recommends an under-armpit reading as the simplest method.

First, for a clear reading, ensure there’s no other reason your child is hot. So check they haven’t been wrapped up in too many blankets and that their room isn’t too hot. You may want to take them into another room first for a few minutes if that’s the case.

Always follow manufacturer instructions down to the letter. If you haven’t inserted an ear thermometer correctly or held a no-touch model close enough, it won’t be accurate. Some of the higher-end models will have features to stop you taking a temperature unless the machine is being used properly.

Once you have a reading, make a note of it. Some models have the ability to store a few readings, which is handy. If you aren’t sure, wait a couple of minutes and take another reading to compare it.

How do you check a newborn’s temperature?

For tiny newborns, the NHS advises using a digital thermometer in the armpit. Newborns are sometimes too wriggly for ear thermometers and the probe on them can be too big for very tiny ears – it gets easier as they get older.

Just hold your baby in your arms on your knee. Switch the thermometer on and follow the instructions for getting it ready for a reading. Pop the thermometer under your baby's arm for as long as the instructions tell you to – some beep when ready but it’s usually about 15 seconds.

If it’s high but you think there’s another reason they could be hot, let them cool down for a few minutes and try again.

When should you take a baby’s temperature?

If your baby’s forehead or tummy feels hot to the touch, or they are clammy or sweaty or look flushed, you should take their temperature.

What is a normal temperature for a baby?

Around 36.4°C is regarded as a ‘normal’ body temperature, but it can vary by a few points either side of that.

What temperature is dangerous for a baby?

A high temperature is officially 38 degrees but, even if it’s lower than that and you have concerns, it’s always worth seeking medical advice.

Doctors would always rather see a baby that turns out to be absolutely fine than not see a baby until things get serious. NHS advice is that you should call your GP or 111 if your baby is:

  • 0-3 months with a temperature of 38 degrees or above
  • 3-6 months with a temperature of 39 degrees or above

When should you worry about a baby’s fever?

A fever is a temperature of over 38°C. It’s usually not something to worry about and is a sign that your child’s body is fighting an infection. Usually a temperature comes down in three to four days.

You can help by ensuring your child gets plenty of fluids and checking for signs of dehydration, administering paracetamol suitable for your child’s age (over two months), offering food if they want it and checking on them regularly.

If the temperature persists or there are other symptoms present, call 111 or your GP. If your child has any symptoms of more serious illness (with or without a temperature), such as febrile convulsions, a rash that doesn’t fade under pressure, a blue or grey tinge to their skin or a weak, high-pitched cry, always dial 999 or go straight to A&E.

How do you clean a baby thermometer?

You can use an alcohol wipe but make sure you let it dry completely and then rinse in water before using it again. The NHS recommends simply cleaning a baby thermometer with soap and water.

Some thermometers may have small plastic parts that you can pop in a baby bottle steriliser, but check yours is suitable for that first. Others have disposable ear covers that you throw away and can buy more of when you need them.

It’s always a good idea to run the thermometer under clean water first. A non-contact thermometer will require less cleaning. Just ensure it’s had a good wipe down between uses, particularly if the whole family is ill.

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