The best thermometer to have in your medicine cabinet will suit the entire family — both kids and adults, alike. When your kiddos (or you) are feeling under the weather, one of the first things you do is check their temperature. While the back of the hand to the forehead method gives you an initial sense of heat, it’s important to have a reliable thermometer; that way, you can gauge if there’s a fever burning or your kid is just warm from testing the heart rate feature on their new Fitbit. You probably have a designated baby thermometer if you have an infant, but for toddlers, older kids, and you, a forehead/ear or oral thermometer should do the trick (and some can be used with babies, too).
As if you weren’t health-aware before, post-2020 you’re probably extra cautious when someone in the family shows any sign of illness — or maybe daily temperature checks have become routine in your home. Needless to say, having a trusty thermometer on hand is an absolute wellness essential for any family.
What kind of thermometer is most accurate?
According to Mayo Clinic, if you’re using a contact thermometer, rectal temperatures are the most accurate for infants 3 months and younger as well as children up to 3 years old. Oral temperatures are usually accurate for older children and adults as long as you position the thermometer correctly and keep the mouth closed.
While not quite as accurate, forehead contact and no-contact thermometers are a great option for taking readings on wiggly children. Mayo Clinic says these are appropriate for children of all ages. Ear thermometers are a good option, too, but should only be used for children 6 months and older.
When should you worry about a fever?
According to Healthline, temperatures at which to call the doctor are:
- 100.4 degrees for infants under 3 months
- 102.2 degrees for children 3 months to 3 years old
- 102 degrees for 2 or more days in children over 3 years old
- 104 degrees for anyone (children and adults)
Bottom line: If you’re ever concerned about a fever or symptoms, it’s always safest to call the doctor.
Whether you prefer a traditional oral stick or need a forehead or ear reader, there are lots of thermometer options that can provide fast, accurate readings so you know how to respond immediately. Ahead are 11 of the best thermometers for kids and adults to have nearby if someone starts feeling icky.
Best Forehead & Ear Thermometers For Kids & Adults
The iHealth no-touch forehead thermometer has three sensitive sensors that can take a temperature in just one second and is designed for all ages. It has an LED backlight and gently vibrates when it’s done vs. beeping loudly, which is great if you’re taking the temperature of a sleeping child.
The thermometer has over 77,000 five-star reviews, including one from this reviewer, who said, “I’m a Family Practitioner PA for the past 38 years and cannot tolerate an incorrect temperature reading. This is right on compared to both a glass and digital thermometer. Takes only a second to work and it even works with a moving target. Highly recommended for the medical professional and for home use, especially with little kids. Stay healthy.”
This touchless forehead thermometer has an ergonomically designed handle and can be used for all ages. There’s an LCD display that shows time and date, as well as three different colors (green, orange for temperatures higher than 99.1 degrees, and red for temperatures higher than 100 degrees) depending on if a fever is detected, and it stores the previous 10 recordings. You can also switch it from forehead to object mode to check room or object temperatures.
One reviewer said, “The forehead thermometer was everything that I had imagined and more. Set up of date and time was super easy and only took a few minutes and is very user-friendly. I am really impressed with the sleek light-weight design of the thermometer. The temperature reading is very fast as well. This is a great product from Femometer!”
You can easily measure temperatures by either forehead or ear in seconds by taking off the cap of this thermometer and simply pressing the “forehead” or “ear” button. The display flashes red if a fever is detected (99.7+ degrees) and it automatically turns off after 10 seconds of inactivity. It works for adults and kids, as well as liquids and surfaces, and stores up to 20 past recordings.
Says one reviewer, “The instructions are super simple to understand and follow and we had the thermometer up and running in a matter of seconds. We’ve tested both functions (forehead and ear) several times, and it’s easy enough for our 6-year-old to do it. We also used it on our crazy 2-year-old and since it only takes a few seconds to get a reading, it was so much more enjoyable and easy taking his temp with this as opposed to trying to keep him from squirming around long enough for an underarm reading.”
This forehead and ear thermometer can display temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. Not only can it measure the temperatures of everyone in your family, but can also take the temperature of the room and other surfaces (e.g., liquids or food). There’s an intelligent fever indicator built in that will beep and flash orange or red when temperatures are above 99.3 degrees, and it can store up to 35 past temperatures.
One reviewer said, “Looks and feels like high quality. Simple to use. Has memory of the last 30 readings. Ear and forehead reading. Also can read the temperature of other things like a bottle! Has a switch to change Celsius and Fahrenheit rather than having to change settings. Comes with a nice protective bag. Love it! Compared to the doctor’s thermometer and it’s the exact same reading almost every time! Glad I bought it!”
The Braun digital ear thermometer measures the infrared heat from the eardrum and surrounding tissue and can be used for both kids and adults. You can set the age of whose temperature you’re measuring, and the thermometer it will adjust the fever reading appropriately. It can store the last 9 recordings and comes with disposable lens filters so you can get a clean and hygienic reading from person to person.
One reviewer says, “It is an excellent thermometer. It measures the temperature within seconds, provides accurate readings, has built-in light that is great for measuring toddler’s temperature at night. It also has an option to display temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit. It comes with 20 lens filters, so can be used right away.”
For a quick temperature check for family members who can’t sit still, this forehead thermometer uses a trigger button and can measure temperatures in one second at a distance from 1-5 cm. There’s a body and surface mode and there are three different colored indicators if high temperatures are measured. Impressively, it can store up to 50 past recordings.
One reviewer says, “The product arrived and it’s easy to use it right out of the box because it comes with the batteries (a nice surprise!). I lined up my kids to try it out, and it’s so easy to use. It’s also very accurate as we compared it to our traditional thermometer. Finally, it’s also quicker to use for wiggly kids who don’t want to sit down to have their temps taken. It’s so easy to use that my kids checked my temperature too, and used it with no problem at all. The readout is super clear: based on your temperature, the screen will be green, yellow, or red, along with the actual temperature and a cute little smiley face (if green) or a sad face (if red).”
Best Oral, Armpit & Rectal Thermometers For Kids & Adults
Lightweight and waterproof, the Femometer thermometer can measure temperatures orally, rectally, or in the armpit in under two minutes. It saves the last recorded temperature and automatically shuts off after 10 minutes, and it comes with a plastic case for easy storing.
One reviewer said, “This works nicely in the diaper bag. I can get temperature readings quickly and without a fuss. It’s very lightweight and runs on hearing aid batteries. The display is clear and easy to read and the measurements are accurate.”
This thermometer is speedy — it’s in the name, after all — and can take your temperature in as fast as eight seconds orally, rectally, or under the arm. It has a color-coded display, turning yellow or orange if temperatures are elevated or high, and it saves the last recording. The thermometer is water-resistant for easy cleaning and also comes with a storage case.
One reviewer says, “I love electric thermometers, but most of them have a really small display. This one has a nice large display with great contrast between the numbers and the backlight. It works fast and is repeatedly accurate.”
This waterproof thermometer has an easy-to-read screen — in addition to the temperature, the display will show a smiley face if temperatures are fine, and a frowny face if there’s a fever. The soft and flexible tip can be used orally, rectally, or in the armpit, for babies and adults alike. You can get a reading within 10-20 seconds, and it comes with a plastic case for storage.
One reviewer said, “I love that this thermometer has three ‘faces’ – sad face, straight face, and happy face. Gives you a fast idea of what temps are too high and what temps are okay. It pointed to the straight face and then the sad face for me today… along with telling me my temp. Sick day for me!”
The FridaBaby thermometer has a convenient second-check feature — get the first temperature reading in 10 seconds, and the second one in 30 seconds all without having to reinsert it. It can be used orally, under the arm, or rectally, and it has a rectal stopper built-in. The LED light makes it easy to read at night or in dim rooms, and it stores up to 10 past recordings. It’s water-resistant and also comes with a carrying case.
One reviewer says, “What I love about the FridaBaby 3-in-1 thermometer is that it does it all. One thermometer, whether I need to take a child’s temperature orally or rectally (it does armpit too), with no extra pieces to keep track of. The tip folds up and down easily depending on how you need to use it and for storage. I also love that it gives you two temperature readings – one at 10 seconds and the second at 30 seconds. My younger children can’t always sit still long enough for the longer reading, so I love that I can get a quick temp before they wriggle away. This is definitely a product that every parent needs!”
Most of the other gadgets in your home are smart devices, so why shouldn’t your thermometer be, as well? You can download an app to keep track of temperatures, symptoms, and medications, but the thermometer works without the app, too. You can get a reading within 8 seconds orally, rectally, or from under the arm, and there’s a large display to show readings in either Celsius or Fahrenheit.
One reviewer says, “It was a breeze to set up with my phone. I keep track of my son’s fevers and I love that with this, they automatically get sent to my phone when the thermometer is done. From there you can select which person/account you want the temp to go under and you can select if it was an oral, underarm, or rectal temp. I like that the thermometer lights up and instead of changing colors like ones I’ve had in the past, it has a little smiley/frown face.“