When this parent falls into "temperature anxiety": finding security in the thermometer

When this parent falls into "temperature anxiety": finding security in the thermometer

What is the temperature of an infant and toddler to be considered a fever? The "2023 Blue Book of Infant Temperature Monitoring Cognition Status of New Generation Parents" survey found that only 3.0% of the interviewed parents have correct cognition of the temperature differences between infants and young children at different ages and different time periods, among which the common misunderstanding is that nearly half (45.5%) of parents believe that the high fever temperature standard of children under the age of 3 is higher than that of adults. In fact, the temperature standard for fever in infants and young children varies with increasing age.

Text | Ruan Baiqing

Edit | Lo Mu

At one o'clock in the morning, Chen Hao knocked on the glass door of the pharmacy.

The night shift doctor asked him what to buy through the locked fence, and Chen Hao did not know how to answer for a while, this was the first time a 10-month-old child fell ill, and it was also the first time that the young family faced the choice of "hanging up the emergency in the middle of the night" or "going to the clinic at dawn". Chen Hao tried to state the symptoms as completely as possible, but in fact, the sleeping child did not show any discomfort, but "it seemed a little hot to the touch."

Pharmacies have dealt with similar situations countless times, and thermometers and antipyretic patches are always must-haves that can't go wrong. The young dad held them in his hands and realized that anxiety was only beginning now, for example, he was still unsure whether he should take his child to the hospital immediately after taking his temperature. A friend told him that occasionally the fever does not need to be too nervous, it is better to let the child maintain a complete sleep, but if the child is really sick, it will inevitably disrupt the family's routine, and the examinations brought by a fever are enough for them to spend at least one full day in the hospital.

This is not the anxiety of Chen Hao's family, but the epitome of the lives of countless new parents. The child vomits, is it eating or gastroenteritis? The child is not energetic, is it sleepy or cold? When parenting becomes more and more refined, height and weight, sleep duration, frequency of urination, real-time body temperature... All sorts of data have become a bellwether for parents' mood — especially body temperature, and the numbers on the thermometer determine whether life is safe or quiet for the next few days.

But is what parents know about temperature measurement really as scientific as they think? Recently, Southern Weekend and Braun Healthy Living jointly released the "2023 New Generation of Parents' Infant Temperature Monitoring Cognitive Status Blue Book" (hereinafter referred to as the "Blue Book"), which provides a model for the parenting style of the younger generation in a series of figures.

When this parent falls into "temperature anxiety": finding security in the thermometer

Southern Weekend and Braun Healthy Living jointly released the "2023 Blue Book on the Cognitive Status of Infant Temperature Monitoring for New Generation Parents".

Send to the emergency room or look again, the choice of new parents is difficult

A few months later, when he mentioned the experience of going to the pharmacy to buy a thermometer in the middle of the night, Chen Hao still felt a little guilty. Because of too busy work, the pressure of childcare is almost all given to the elderly, and only when they get home from work can they briefly "play" for an hour.

No one can say when the fever started, the child has always been healthy, even the slightest cold runny nose, so no one realized that this child who went to bed early at night and was only "slightly feverish" had actually ushered in his first serious illness - pneumonia.

Although an increase in body temperature is a red flag, it is not a single criterion for judging the child's condition, and it is also necessary to observe the child's mental state simultaneously. Dr. Zhang Feng, director of the Children's Health Center of Beijing Children's Hospital affiliated to Capital Medical University, said that because the thermoregulatory center of young children is not yet perfect, so the temperature does not directly reflect the severity of the disease, "A baby with a body temperature of 38.3 degrees but a gray face and abnormal quietness may be sicker than a baby with a body temperature of 39.4 degrees but can still run around the house." ”

What is the temperature of an infant and toddler to be considered a fever? The "Blue Book" survey found that only 3.0% of the parents surveyed have the correct understanding of the temperature difference between infants and young children at different ages and different time periods, and the common misconception is that nearly half (45.5%) of parents believe that the high fever temperature standard of children under the age of 3 is higher than that of adults. In fact, the temperature standard for fever in infants and young children varies with increasing age [1].

Dr. Sun Shuying, member of the Infant Development Professional Committee of the China Eugenics and Superior Education Association, recommends that babies under 3 months of age seek medical treatment in time as long as their body temperature exceeds 37.4 degrees (excluding fever caused by ambient temperature); babies aged 3-36 months should be cooled down with drugs in time when they exceed 38.5 degrees, and should seek medical attention in time if the fever cannot be reduced for 3 days; and babies over 36 months old, even if they have a fever of 38.5 °C, can still eat, play, and have good spirits, can continue to observe, do not necessarily take medicine. However, when the temperature is above 39.4 °C or there are obvious mental disorders, be sure to see a doctor and cool down in time.

Chen Hao's son's pneumonia was intermittently delayed for two months to cure, and once "stepping on the pit", the whole family was extremely concerned about the child's body temperature, especially during the new crown epidemic and influenza outbreak, as long as the child's spirit was slightly abnormal, he immediately took out a thermometer to measure it. Many young parents have become accustomed to maintaining such vigilance, and the Blue Book shows that after the new crown epidemic, 79.3% of the parents surveyed are more concerned about the abnormal body temperature of their children.

Parents also actively obtain relevant knowledge and information from the outside world, and each parent interviewed has four channels for obtaining information. Chen Hao opened the social software on his mobile phone, and the information he pushed was basically related to children. In addition, like most of the parents interviewed, he still trusts doctors and medical professionals (88.0%) the most about temperature measurement knowledge, Chen Hao pointed to the content on his mobile phone and said: "There are many certified doctors in this platform, I will go to see the content of its pediatric section." ”

In addition to the high incidence of epidemics, kindergarten admission is also a period of general tension for parents. Song Lin jokingly called the kindergarten "a huge bacterial petri dish" and it was almost impossible not to get sick. Song Lin's daughter began to cough in the first month of kindergarten, although taking medicine and resting for a few days did improve significantly, but once she returned to kindergarten, she immediately dragged two more snots, and the cold and cough became a protracted battle, intermittent for a semester, and it seemed that there was never a time for complete recovery.

"So many children, there will always be people who get sick, cross-infection is difficult to avoid, you can only observe diligently, do not evolve into any serious disease." Song Lin takes her daughter's temperature almost every day, and the Blue Book shows that 40.8% of parents interviewed have a daily temperature measurement habit like her. In addition, it is a fact that cannot be ignored that 13.1% of the parents interviewed only measure the temperature of their children when they express discomfort, and parents still need to pay attention to the pre-positioning and routine of temperature measurement behavior, especially in special moments such as influenza season, season change and vaccination.

When this parent falls into "temperature anxiety": finding security in the thermometer

Still 13% of parents surveyed only take their temperature when their child expresses discomfort or illness.

But Song Lin also "made trouble": one day before going to bed, she took her daughter's temperature, found that the number soared to 38.7 degrees, and quickly went to the hospital to register, but the test dropped back to 36.7 degrees at the first diagnosis. The doctor speculated that it was because her daughter jumped in bed for more than 20 minutes before taking her temperature. In fact, body temperature will be affected by many factors, such as hot and cold environment, different time periods, and the posture of using the thermometer. Dr. Sun Shuying explained that the baby's body temperature may vary by 0.5-1 degrees at different times of the day. After exercise or crying, the body temperature of infants and young children is easy to rise for a short time and lead to abnormal values, which is a state that needs to be avoided as much as possible for temperature measurement, but the "Blue Book" shows that 46.0% of respondents usually measure the temperature of their children in these states.

Although parents have a lot of misunderstandings about the temperature of infants and young children, up to 80.8% of the parents surveyed believe that timely temperature measurement and accurate grasp of the child's physical state can alleviate their anxiety when their child's body temperature is abnormal. Among them, "temperature measurement tool" has become the keyword to relieve anxiety.

Parenting dilemma: how to measure body temperature to be accurate?

The Blue Book shows that on average, every household has more than 2 types of thermometers. On the one hand, this is due to parents' concern that the temperature measurement value of a single tool has errors, and on the other hand, it is necessary to take care of the use habits of the elderly at home. According to the survey, 70.5% of respondents most often use infrared thermometers such as ear thermometers or forehead thermometers, but nearly half (48.6%) of respondents still use mercury thermometers that are less safe and environmentally friendly.

Chen Hao's children often stay at their grandparents' homes, and the old people use mercury thermometers that "shake before clamping", but it is difficult for two- and three-year-olds to maintain the same posture for several minutes of temperature measurement. The elderly in the family eventually gave up using the mercury thermometer because a child ran around with the thermometer under his arm and accidentally broke it. The whole family worried for several days, afraid that the uncleaned mercury would be accidentally eaten by the child, resulting in poisoning.

Song Lin, who has to measure her daughter's temperature every day, has a variety of thermometers, and she has used armpit temperature guns, forehead temperature guns and ear temperature guns. In her experience, armpit temperature and ear temperature sometimes differed by more than 1 degree, just above the child's fever standard, which confused her and did not know whether to take fever-reducing drugs.

After a long period of practice, Song Lin is now more accustomed to using ear temperature guns. "The armpit thermometer is cumbersome to use, it takes 20 seconds to have a dripping sound, and it is also a hassle to stuff it under the armpit in winter. The problem with forehead temperature is that my child has a fever and I used to put an antipyretic patch on her forehead, which is not convenient to measure. ”

The eardrum thermometer measures the temperature of the eardrum, which is close to the core temperature [2]. However, the "Blue Book" shows that 73.4% of the parents surveyed are still accustomed to measuring their children's armpit temperature, and the use of ear thermometers needs to be popularized.

Parents who have purchased ear thermometers also need to be corrected in their use methods. The data shows that 93.4% of the parents surveyed have purchased or used an ear temperature gun, but only 7.2% of the parents surveyed have a completely correct understanding of how to use it. Common misuses include: averaging the alternating temperature measurements of both ears; Hold the thermometer close to the entrance of the ear canal and quickly press the button... In fact, due to the structure of the external auditory canal, the back of the ear must be pulled back vertically when using the ear temperature gun to ensure that the ear canal is straight, and the temperature of the left and right ears of the person may be different, and the temperature measurement should be kept on the same side as much as possible when observing the change of body temperature.

When this parent falls into "temperature anxiety": finding security in the thermometer

Tips for using ear thermometers.

Various misunderstandings in the use also make parents' demands for the intelligence and convenience of ear thermometers more urgent. According to the "Blue Book", nearly 70% of the parents surveyed want the ear temperature gun to operate as simple as possible, and more than half (52.2%) of the interviewed parents hope that the ear temperature gun can judge whether there is a fever according to the temperature and age - which also confirms that the vast majority of parents have a vague understanding of the fever standards of infants and young children, and they prefer to leave the "judgment" step to the temperature measurement tool.

After the mercury thermometer at home was scrapped, Chen Hao purchased a Braun ear thermometer that could automatically determine whether there was a fever based on the age of the month [3]. "The old man has a bad look, and let them remember how old the child is and how many degrees the fever is. One of the advantages of Braun is that its normal body temperature shows green, and high fever is red, which is more friendly to the elderly. I told them, you just look at the color, green is normal, yellow and red means there is a fever, at a glance. ”

Song Lin is now accustomed to measuring the temperature after her daughter falls asleep, and like 56.6% of the parents interviewed, she is very concerned about whether the ear temperature gun does not affect the baby's sleep: "At night, temperature measurement is best to have night light and silent function, can not affect children's sleep, Braun's (temperature measurement) speed is also relatively fast, two or three seconds can be." ”

It is not difficult to see that the popularization of infant temperature knowledge is of course important, but the market also expects that this knowledge can be intuitively integrated into the function of temperature measurement tools.

When this parent falls into "temperature anxiety": finding security in the thermometer

Parents are eager for the intelligence and convenience of temperature measurement tools.

On the road to becoming a better parent

Raising the next generation is a long challenge, and almost every young parent will experience a change of mindset from "I want my child to be the dragon and phoenix" to "as long as the child is healthy". In the lifelong proposition of "health", anxiety may be inevitable.

Is sleep worth the anxiety? Because the length of deep sleep has an important impact on the brain development of young children, countless mothers have emotional breakdowns in the face of children who refuse to close their eyes for an hour when they are coaxed to sleep.

Is height worth the anxiety? Even if they do not seek to grow into a "basketball body", but only to keep up with the growth curve, a large number of families are starting to "chase height" from the ingredients and grammage of each meal.

Is vision worth the anxiety? In order not to put on glasses early, parents pinched the watch to calculate that the outdoor time should not be less than 2 hours a day, and make a "farsighted reserve" for their children.

Is body temperature worth the anxiety? For children who are not yet able to express their physical condition, body temperature is a barometer of illness.

When this parent falls into "temperature anxiety": finding security in the thermometer

In the eyes of parents, every detail of the child is equally important, and there is no room for neglect. (Visual China/Photo)

The reason for these anxieties is that in the eyes of parents, any detail of the child is equally important, and there is no room for neglect. But it is precisely because of this that the mood of trying to do everything possible brings a lot of baggage to parents, especially when the correct knowledge popularization is still lacking, and the efforts have become futile.

Scientific and effective parenting and care guidance is very necessary, and the popularization of science in the field of health still requires the participation of social organizations including medical institutions, enterprises, media, etc.

Raising infants and toddlers is indeed a challenge, but it is not a challenge imposed on individual families alone. Starting with the small matter of temperature measurement, society is helping young people become better parents.

(Chen Hao and Song Lin are pseudonyms)


1.Herzog L, Phillips S G. Addressing concerns about fever[J]. Clinical Pediatrics, 2011, 50(5): 383-390.

2.Mark A Ward. Pathophysiology and treatment of fever in infants and children[EB/OL].,2020-03-25.

3. Refers to the Braun AgeSmarttm age selection function, when measuring, fever warning backlit luminous display shows different degrees of body temperature in different colors.


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