Whether it's caused byor a common cold, having a fever is never fun. When your spikes, it's time to reach for a to understand just how bad the situation really is.
Thermometers have come a long way since the mercury thermometers that I (and I'm sure at least some of you) had as a kid. Many of them are smart and can connect to an app to track your temperature overtime, to give you a holistic view of your health. No matter how you want to take your or your child's temperature -- orally, on the forehead, in the ear -- there's a model out there for you.
We've tested several models to determine which are the best thermometers for you, your kids and your entire family.
Withings' Thermo is undoubtedly the sleekest model I tested, but also the most expensive. This thermometer takes temporal readings, meaning you swipe it across your forehead and it captures your body temperature from your temporal artery. The Thermo doesn't even need to make contact with your skin -- it can be up to half an inch away -- which makes it one of the most hygenic options and you won't have to disturb your sleeping kid to take their temperature.
The Thermo has 16 sensors that capture several thousand temperature readings at once. I like that the Thermo guides you to use it -- when it's done recording those measurements it vibrates twice. Just as a heads up, you need to use the Thermo app to set up the thermometer and see a history of readings, but the app is not required to take your temperature.
Look, I get that a nearly $100 thermometer seems absurd to most people, but the sleek design and dead-simple ease of use make the Thermo a worthwhile choice if that price doesn't scare you off.
The聽Kinsa was one of the first smart thermometers on the market, and its products are designed with kids in mind. The Smart Ear thermometer connects to the Kinsa app on your phone to keep a log of each temperature reading, so you can keep tabs on how your fever is progressing.聽
The app also offers care advice with each reading -- like making sure you or your kid is getting enough fluids -- and provides information on when you need to see a doctor or go to the ER. You can also tell the app when you took or administered medication to bring the fever down.
It takes temperature in under two seconds, which will help getting a reading on a squirmy kid who doesn't want to sit still. One of the only downsides is that you need the Kinsa app to set up the thermometer -- so if you aren't keen on logging your temperature data in an app, skip this model.
Braun's ear thermometer reminds me of the ones I encountered as a kid at the pediatrician -- back when in-ear models weren't available at home. This older school design feels a tad dated compared to Withings' or Kinsa's models, but it works just as well.
You can take temperature readings for infants under one month old, all the way up to adults. There are three preset age ranges: Up to three months, three to 36 months and 36 months and up. The thermometer stores up to four recent readings and takes your temperature in just a few seconds.聽
My biggest knock against the ThermScan 7 is that you have to use disposable plastic covers in order to take a temperature reading. The thermometer knows if the plastic cover is missing and won't work until you put one on. Kinsa's model, in comparison, works without any cover. However, in talking to a colleague who has kids and uses this thermometer, he says he doesn't mind the cover because he doesn't have to clean the thermometer before using it.
If you're set on getting a classic oral, underarm or rectal thermometer, Vick's model has everything need and a little more. It has a large, clear display that glows different colors when your body temperature is normal, elevated or you have a fever.
It comes with a plastic cover, it's easy to clean and provides reliable readings -- I couldn't ask for more with this type of thermometer. While I tested the Speed Read model, I'd also recommend the Vicks ComfortFlex Digital Thermometer. It's the same thermometer but has a flexible probe, which makes it more comfortable for oral temperature readings.
Recommended, with reservations
The iProven Forehead and Ear thermometer is the most versatile of all of the options on this list. It can take your temperature from your forehead and ear, plus it can measure surface and air temperature. That means you can check to see if your baby or kid's bath water isn't too hot or record the ambient temperature in any room of your house.
This thermometer stores up to 35 temperature readings, which is impressive but also unnecessary -- especially because there's no way to assign those temperatures to individual people.
My gripe with this thermometer is that the temperature readings were less consistent than other models I tested. Depending on where on my forehead I pointed it, I got different results each time, ranging from 96.0 to 98.0 degrees F. By comparison, the Withings Thermo consistently gave me readings between 98.3 and 99.1 degrees F. This is because the iProven model will take a reading wherever you point it, so if its not pointed at your temporal artery, you might get inaccurate readings.
Testing it against the two other ear thermometers on this list, the Braun and Kinsa, I again got inconsistent results, despite following the directions from the user manual and taking care to place the probe in my ear in the same position and angle each time. Both Braun and Kinsa gave me consistent readings with only a few tenths of a degree difference.聽
In theory, the SmartTemp Wireless Thermometer is a good idea. In execution, not so much. Rather than have a display on the actual device, it connects to an app on your phone to display temperature readings. Setting aside that app is visually dated and clunky, I hate that the thermometer is useless without it. There's no way to take your temperature without opening the app.
It's also $10 more than the Vicks Speed Read. I could go on, but I won't. Just skip this thermometer.