Best Non-Contact Thermometer Buying Guide
No matter how much care you take raising your children, they are bound to come down with a fever a few times in their childhood. No doubt the times that your children are sick are worrisome and harrowing experiences. But much more so when they are very little and unable to tell you how they feel. The frustration in their little bodies causes them to cry frantically that simple things can cause you to panic. Things like taking their temperature, for example, become nearly impossible with traditional thermometers, what with all the struggling involved.
Taking their temperature doesn’t really have to be such a traumatic experience for both you and your little one. Advances in technology now allow you to know the degree of your child’s fever without ever having to touch her. All you need is a good non-contact thermometer that can take her temperature in an instant. But how do you know which one is the right one for your family?
What features should you consider in buying a non-contact thermometer?
Old mercury thermometers were reliable but so difficult to use on little babies. Taking a baby’s temperature was at least a 2-person endeavor with one holding the baby down so the other could hold the thermometer steady. And let’s not even talk about what a traumatic experience that could be for a baby who is already sick. Just imagine how frightened he must be at being held down while someone tries to insert a thermometer into his armpit or rectum. Not to mention those old mercury thermometers were made of glass that could break from all that thrashing about, exposing your precious young child to the dangers of mercury. Why, taking a baby’s temperature with those old instruments was a health hazard all on its own!
Thank heavens it no longer has to be that way because you can purchase an instant read non-contact thermometer that works using infrared signals. To assist you, we at ParentsNeed HQ sorted out the features you ought to look for when you are shopping.
● Backlit Display
In choosing a non-contact thermometer for your child, you want to make sure that it has a large backlit display. This display will be one of the things you will appreciate most when it is late at night and your baby is restless or crying inconsolably. The last thing you want to be doing is to be fiddling with your thermometer and trying to find the screen to read the results while you and your child are in distress.
● Reading Complete Beep
You want to find a thermometer that alerts you when it has completed reading your child’s temperature. What’s convenient about it is that takes away the guess work as to when you should look at the display for the temperature reading. With this feature, you can focus on comforting your little one who probably doesn’t want to have his temperature taken.
● Fever Alert
Some non-contact digital thermometers indicate if your child’s temperature is normal, slightly elevated, or really high. These thermometers usually use colored LED lights to differentiate between a normal or fevered state. While it is not necessary to have a fever alert feature, it is nice to have especially if you just want to know if your child has a fever or not without looking at his actual temperature.
The great thing about this digital age is that you won’t need to keep a fever log the way your mom used to. If you have digital thermometer with a memory function, it will store the last few readings for you. This is very convenient if your doctor instructs you to track your child’s temperature in response to medication.
● Auto Shut Off
Especially with babies and very young children who resist having their temperature taken, your tendency is just to leave your thermometer on the table right after using it. When you need to comfort your crying baby, you don’t want to worry about whether you turned off your thermometer. An auto shut off feature is a must in order to save battery life if you don’t manually turn off your instrument.
● Button Feedback
Imagine taking your crying child’s temperature and reassuring her that it will be over in just a second. You think you have pushed the temperature read button, but you haven’t. So you have to tell your baby to sit still one more time. Not an appealing scenario, right? Pick a thermometer with a button feedback feature. It lets you know with a beep or a vibration that you have pressed the button so you wouldn’t have to second guess yourself.
Now that you know what features to look for, you will need to be able to differentiate between two or three non-contact thermometers and choose which one is the better choice. This means you will have to consider the following factors to narrow down your options.
● Response Time
When you’re buying a non-contact thermometer, don’t confuse it with a regular digital thermometer. Some digital thermometers could take 30 seconds to a whole minute to deliver a reading, and that is too long for a sick baby to stay still. Non-contact digital thermometers these days can take an accurate reading literally in a second. This is the one you want.
The perks of having a digital non-contact thermometer will all be for naught if it doesn’t take temperatures accurately. So you will want to test yours once you have made your purchase. There are two ways to do it at home:
Melting Point. One easy way to calibrate your thermometer is to use the melting point of ice. You can do this with a glass, some ice, and a little water. Fill a glass or bowl with some ice. Then add a little clean water to the brim and stir. Wait for about three minutes before taking the temperature of the water. It should read 32 F which is the melting point of ice.
Boiling Point. Another way to check for accuracy is to use the boiling point of water. In a pan, heat about 6 inches of water until it is boiling. Once the water is boiling, use your thermometer to take its temperature. It should read 212 F if you are at sea level. Remember that the boiling point of water decreases the higher you are above sea level.
If you are unsure of your elevation, a quick reference online using your zip code should sort it out for you. If you find that your thermometer does not give you accurate readings, follow the calibrating instructions that comes with it when you make your purchase. Or, you can have it replaced by the manufacturer.
● Ease of Use
When your baby or toddler is sick, they may be resistant to having their temperature taken so you need a thermometer that is practically point and go.
● Easy to Clean
The great thing about a non-contact thermometer is that it doesn’t have to touch your child to take his temperature. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep it clean. Dirty sensors take inaccurate temperatures. Most of the time, a simple wipe down of the instrument should be fine, but it would be best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions if there are any.
● Temperature Unit
Pick a thermometer that uses your local unit, be it Celsius or Fahrenheit. The last thing you want to do is some mental math to convert your child’s temperature.
A good non-contact thermometer won’t really break the bank, but it isn’t cheap either. So you will want to get one that has a guarantee – this usually means that the manufacturer offers a warranty so that you can replace your unit if it does not perform as expected.
It is best to check if the thermometer you are purchasing has a storage box or pouch so that you can properly keep your unit. So many items have deteriorated just because they were not put away properly, and you wouldn’t want that to happen to your thermometer. Some units come with a handle that will allow you to hang your non-contact thermometer on the wall. If the manufacturer doesn’t provide anything to store your thermometer in, plan on getting a storage option of your own.
● Customer Experience
It is one thing to look at the features printed in a non-contact thermometer’s label, and it is quite another to read customer feedback. Reading about other people’s experiences with the product you are considering will give invaluable information about how it works and whether it performs satisfactorily. Always look at several reviews especially from people who have bought a unit to get the best gauge of performance. Alternatively, ask your friends which non-contact thermometer they bought and if they are a satisfied customer.
Tips for Using Your Non-Contact Thermometer
- Each person has a different body temperature. When you first open your thermometer, take everyone’s temperature so you have can have a gauge for your family’s ‘normal range.’ Note that body temperature for babies is higher.
- Keep your thermometer clean. Dirty sensors yield inaccurate readings.
- Because non-contact thermometers do not touch the object it is measuring, it is most prone to being affected by the conditions of the room that it is in. If you use a thermometer in a cold room when it has been outside in the heat, it may give you an inaccurate reading. So the solution is to let the thermometer “acclimatize” in its new environment first. About 10 to 30 minutes would be enough time.
- Likewise, a person’s temperature can be affected by his environment. For example, a baby may be warmer when it is snuggled close and breastfeeding. So before taking the temperature of your baby, make sure that he is not too warmly dressed and that it has been about 15 minutes since breastfeeding. It is recommended that both baby and thermometer are acclimatized to the room where temperature will be taken.
- Before taking a temperature, wipe away sweat and moisture from your child’s forehead (the usual target for taking a temperature with a non-contact thermometer). This will ensure that the infrared signal does not bounce off of the moisture beads and give you an inaccurate reading.
- If you are unsure of your “targeting skills,” pick a thermometer that has a pointer light. The light will not take the temperature for you, contrary to what some people believe. But rather, it will help you see where you are pointing so that you can be confident that the temperature reading you’re getting is accurate.
- The normal body temperature range of a baby is 97 to 100.3 Fahrenheit. If your baby’s temperature is 100.4 Fahrenheit and above, he has a fever.
There is no doubt that every medicine cabinet in every home should have a reliable thermometer. And the best kind these days are the instant read non-contact thermometers that have recently become widely available. If you don’t have one yet, now would be the perfect time to read about the Top 5 Best Non-Contact Thermometers that we have carefully selected from a wide array of choices. We at ParentsNeed HQ have also written why our top 5 are the latest and greatest. Read about why the awesome little ARC Devices InstaTemp Non-Touch Digital Thermometer is our favorite and why it deserves a place in your first aid kit.