How to Choose a Thermometer Based on Your Needs
Plus, three of our go-to options that you can shop right now.
Temperature checks are now a national pastime: We've never spent so much time tracking our family's baselines. If you happen to be in the market for a new thermometer—a likely occurrence considering said overuse, especially if yours dates back a few years pre-pandemic and gets a little glitchy—pick a digital one (mercury models can shatter, releasing their toxic contents) based on your needs. Then follow the directions carefully, says Jake Deutsch, MD, founder of Cure Urgent Care, in New York City: Accuracy hinges on proper use. Ahead, Dr. Dutch and another medical expert share their tips for safe, precise readings—plus their thermometer recommendations for every type of household.
For No-Frills Types
An under-the-tongue stick is arguably the least expensive model on the market, but it will take up to a minute to work (which means it's best for teens and adults who can stay in one place for a bit). Be sure to wash it in between uses—and avoid drinking or eating for five minutes before popping it in your mouth, says Dr. Deutsch.
Shop Now: Vicks ComfortFlex Digital Thermometer, $10, amazon.com.
For Full Houses
Have a big brood that you need to monitor regularly? The aforementioned option likely isn't the most practical, considering the time and wash cycle required—nor is it the most hygienic. To safely scan several people in a row, opt for a no-touch infrared type, like this one by iHealth, advises Neha Vyas, MD, a family-medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic.
Shop Now: iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer, $30, amazon.com.
For the Squirmy
In-ear options are far less invasive than oral, and get a more reliable read on a moving target (or a super-fast toddler) than no-touch gadgets do. This option's silent mode lets you gauge a sleeping kid's temp without waking her from her slumber.
Shop Now: iProven "DMT-511" Ear and Forehead Thermometer for Kids, $20, walmart.com.