The 6 Best Thermometers of 2021

Keep a close eye on sickness in your household

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall Thermometer: Kinsa Digital Ear Thermometer at Bed Bath & Beyond

"Keep track of your family's ultra-accurate readings with a user-friendly Bluetooth enabled app."

Best Budget: iProven Oral and Rectal Thermometer at Walmart

"Whether you are taking their temperature under their tongue, under their armpit or rectally, this flexible option will work."

Best Forehead Thermometer: Elepho eTherm Infrared Ear & Forehead Thermometer at Amazon

"Take accurate temperature readings in one second with a dual-functioning forehead and ear thermometer."

Best Thermometer for Kids: Exergen Temporal Thermometer at Amazon

"Has a glowing display for taking temperatures in the dark."

Best No-Touch: Braun No Touch Thermometers at Walmart

"The non-invasive technology will make taking the temperature of your squirmy little ones easy and accurate."

Best Ear Thermometer: Braun Ear Thermometer at Amazon

"Uses disposable lens filters to make it easy to switch between your kids and the grown-ups."

Whether you're getting your family ready for the flu season or just need to have a reliable thermometer on-hand, being able to take your family's temperature at home is essential. When it comes to the proper way to take an accurate reading for children, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that rectal temperature readings are the most accurate and is the method that should be used for babies 3 months old and younger.

We've rounded up the best thermometers for your family that you'll want to keep on hand.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall Thermometer: Kinsa Digital Smart Ear Thermometer

Kinsa thermometer

 Courtesy of Kinsa

Pros
  • Free app

  • No probe covers required

  • Large display

Cons
  • Sometimes inaccurate

This smart digital thermometer takes the spot as our best overall option. The ultra-fast reader takes an accurate reading in the ear in only one second, which is perfect for parents trying to take temperatures for a finicky, squirmy kid.

Unlike the ear thermometers you probably remember growing up, this thermometer doesn’t require disposable plastic covers that can interfere with fever reading, instead, the BPA and Latex-free reader can be easily cleaned with a soft cloth or cotton swab and just a dab of 75 percent alcohol.   

In addition, this thermometer connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth that not only tracks your family’s fever history but offers personalized suggestions on when to see a doctor. It also reminds you when it’s time to take your medications again. And with a battery life that lasts for two years or up to 1,000 readings, you won’t be panicked to search for new batteries when someone you love is already feeling their worst.

Location: Ear | Reading Time: 1 second | Battery: AAA battery 

Best Budget: iProven Oral and Rectal Thermometer

iProven Oral and Rectal Thermometer

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Affordable

  • Waterproof tip

Cons
  • Requires uncommon battery type

If you want something that’s at a cheaper price point but will still give you an accurate reading, reach for this oral and rectal thermometer from iProven. This small and discreet thermometer will give you a fast temperature reading in just 10 seconds, and the reading will be super-accurate within one-tenth of a degree.

While you might remember under the tongue thermometers as uncomfortable, this version has a very flexible tip that makes it much more comfortable than its predecessors.

This durable thermometer is also waterproof, making it super easy to clean with just a little water and soap. Like the other options on this list, this thermometer is a great mercury-free option.

Being that this can be used rectally, this is a great option for newborns since a rectal temperature is the most accurate. If your household doesn't get sick much it is also an affordable option to keep at home in case a fever strikes. 

Location: Oral, Rectal, Axillary | Reading Time: 10 seconds | Battery: LR41 battery

Best Forehead Thermometer: Elepho eTherm Infrared Ear & Forehead Thermometer

Pros
  • Automatic shut off

  • Ergonomic design

  • Compact

Cons
  • Cannot silence beeper

If you’re looking for a thermometer that will give you ultra-accurate readings at just a touch to the forehead, try this option from Elepho, which delivers an accurate reading in just one second. In addition to non-invasive forehead functionality, this thermometer can also take your inner ear temperature, so you can choose the setting that you prefer.

A nice bonus: This option comes with batteries included, so you don’t have to scramble to find a working set when you need it to work the most. The thermometer is suitable for infants, toddlers, kids, and adults, so it's perfect for the whole family.

Location: Ear, Forehead | Reading Time: 1 second | Battery: AAA

Best Thermometer for Kids: Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer

Pros
  • Very accurate

  • 8 temperature memory

  • Can silence beeper 

Cons
  • Must use specific spot on forehead

If your child is consistently picking up bugs and viruses on the playground, make sure you have a reliable and easy-to-use thermometer on hand. Say goodbye to the discomfort of under-the-tongue, inner ear, or rectal thermometers. Instead, this option takes the temperature by capturing the heat from the temporal artery through the forehead skin.

Other great features include a lightly glowing display to help you see when you’re taking temperatures in the dark, an automatic shut-off feature to help you preserve the batteries for when you really need them, and super-simple one-handed functionality. This thermometer is completely mercury-free, so you know it’s safe for even the youngest members of your family.

The AAP reminds parents that for the most accurate reading under the age of 3 you should take a child's temperature rectally. You can use this for a quick check and then try rectal for a more reliable number. Babies under 3 months old always need to have their temperature taken rectally. 

Location: Forehead | Reading Time: 1 second | Battery: 9V

Best No-Touch: Braun No Touch Thermometers

Braun No Touch Thermometers
Courtesy of Amazon
Pros
  • Non-invasive

  • Hygienic

Cons
  • Expensive

If you find yourself needing to take temperatures from finicky kids when they’re sleeping, invest in this no-touch option from Braun to make it super simple. This Braun thermometer also has a silent option so you won’t disturb your little one’s sleep when they’re already not feeling well.

To take your loved one’s temperature, simply hold the thermometer up to 2 inches away from their forehead, and the non-invasive technology will do the work for you. When you use this thermometer, the backlight will change from green to yellow or red, each indicating the severity of the temperature.

It’s a little pricier than most of the other options on this list, but the discreet technology is worth the splurge. You'll know that you’re in safe hands with this doctor-preferred brand: According to the July 2017 Ardent Consulting Survey, more pediatricians use Braun than any other thermometer brand.

Location: No Touch Forehead | Reading Time: 2 seconds | Battery: AA 

Best Ear Thermometer: Braun Thermoscan 5 Ear Thermometer

Pros
  • Pre-warmed tip

  • Large screen is easy to read

  • Sanitary disposable filters

Cons
  • Screen isn’t backlit

  • Must be used with filter

This easy-to-use thermometer is suitable for the whole family—babies, kids, and adults alike. Buyers praise this thermometer’s accuracy and ease of use. This ear thermometer uses disposable lens filters to make it easy to switch between users without having to clean, and also because Braun knows that a buildup of earwax can impact the accuracy of the reading.

Thanks to Braun’s pre-warmed thermometer tip, temperatures are more accurate than other brands whose cool tip can lower readings. Braun stands by ear temperature readings as the most accurate way to detect fever. The brand explains that the blood supply in the eardrum shares the temperature control center of the brain, so it’s the best place to detect unusual temperature changes.

Location: Ear | Reading Time: 2-5 seconds | Battery: AA  

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Final Verdict

For a larger family, the Braun No Touch Digital Thermometer (view on Walmart) offers quick, no-touch readings that are reliable and accurate every time. If you are caring for infants under 6 months old, having the iProven Oral and Rectal Thermometer (view on Walmart) on hand for rectal readings is essential.

What to Look for in a Thermometer

Features

Beyond simple temperature readings, some thermometers will store a history of your family’s temperatures, and some will even provide advice on when you should see a doctor. There are also thermometers that do double duty and can be used to check the temperature of things like baby formula. How many bells and whistles you want will depend on how often you use a thermometer, the size of your family, and your general preferences.

Ease of use

From cleaning the thermometer to getting a temperature reading no matter the circumstances (think squirmy and/or sleeping children), there are some thermometers that make the job a lot easier than others. Also, consider the battery life of a thermometer. There are few things more frustrating than someone spiking a fever in the middle of the night only to find that the thermometer is out of batteries.

Accuracy

The most important quality you want in a thermometer, of course, is accuracy. You want to be able to rely on the results to help you make the best health decisions for you and your family. While rectal readings are recommended for children under 3, for older children and adults, there are a variety of methods thermometers use to produce accurate results, including some models that don’t even have to touch the skin.

FAQs

What are the best thermometers for adults?

The best kind of thermometer for adults is one that is easy to read and delivers a digital result. There are various models on the market that can be used orally, via the ear, or without even touching the skin. While little ones under 6 months old should be using a rectal thermometer for the most accurate readings, adults have various options.

What is the best non-contact thermometer?

A non-contact thermometer is a great option for families where more than one person is likely to be using a single thermometer. These thermometers read the external temperature of your body rather than the internal temperature. These are recommended for adults and big kids as well. The best option is the Braun No Touch Digital Thermometer (view on Walmart) as it features a color-coded light that indicates how severe your temperature is as well as a silent mode for quiet temperature taking which is great for little ones.

What is the best baby thermometer?

When it comes to taking care of your sick infant, you need peace of mind knowing that your thermometer is accurate and reliable. For babies under 6 months old, a rectal temperature is recommended to gather the most accurate reading. The iProven Oral and Rectal Thermometer (view on Amazon) features a flexible tip to make getting a reading easier on your baby, is mercury-free, and delivers a quick reading in 10 seconds.

Why Trust Verywell Family?

Deanna McCormack is a copywriter and freelance writer who covers beauty, wellness, and parenting. She’s mom to an infant daughter and 2-year-old son. Her go-to thermometer for her family (and as a gift for new parents) is the Braun Ear Thermometer (view on Amazon), as recommended to her by her pediatrician.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. How to Take a Child's Temperature. Updated November 21, 2015.

  2. Nimah MM, Bshesh K, Callahan JD, Jacobs BR. Infrared tympanic thermometry in comparison with other temperature measurement techniques in febrile childrenPediatr Crit Care Med. 2006;7(1):48–55. doi:10.1097/01.pcc.0000185476.35550.b2