The best thermometer 2020: check body temperature in adults and babies

Check for virus symptoms with our pick of the best thermometers for every budget

best thermometers – Braun Thermoscan 7
(Image credit: Braun )

We know from our traffic that the best thermometers are suddenly very sought after. They can be used to check body temperature as an indication of whether you have a fever, which can be a symptom of viral infection. 

In this guide to the best thermometers, we cover a range of devices to suit a range of different scenarios, whether you want something general to check accurately for a fever, need something specifically for babies and infants, or need something that offers extra data or a no-contact method. 

Before we start, a quick note on the current stock situation. When the pandemic kicked off, thermometers were in seriously short supply. Now it looks like stock levels are returning to normal for many of the best thermometers in this list. However, there are still a few gaps. If you need something in a hurry, here's where to buy a thermometer right now

Different types of thermometer: A guide

There are reasons why you might want to use a digital thermometer. These range from tracking your body temperature when you have a fever, to monitoring the temperature of your baby's room, or even to give you an indication of whether you might be near ovulation.

If a loved one is unwell, being able to accurately track their temperature could make all the difference between settling them down with a blanket in front of some daytime TV, or calling your GP. And with the latest breed of smart thermometers and non-contact thermometers, you can get fast temperature readings without having to take an internal measurement. 

The smartest models in our best thermometers roundup automatically keep a record of a person's different temperature readings. You could use the data to spot any patterns that may emerge over a specific period of time, then share them with your GP if needed.

Of course, there are other types of thermometer too, such as room thermometers. You see these used frequently in nurseries where parents want an easy way to make sure the room isn't too hot or too cold for their baby.

Speaking of little ones, there are tons of baby thermometers on the market, ranging from forehead thermometers to in-ear and non-contact thermometers, which gives you plenty of choice on one hand but can also make buying a thermometer a little confusing. The top features to look out for here include a simple one-touch operation, and a large display with a backlight so that you can read it without turning the nursery light on and waking baby.

Choosing the best thermometer for you

GPs mostly use ear thermometers to take your temperature, and if this is the way you're leaning too, pick up some extra lens filters to keep your readings hygienic and wax-free. You'll find some good options for this type of device in our best thermometers list below.

Oh, and you may actually need two different types of thermometer: for example, tracking ovulation requires an internal measurement (usually taken underneath your tongue), but taking the temperature of a baby or child is so much easier with a non-contact thermometer (far less scary for them).

Hygiene is extra important if you do opt for an internal thermometer – these are flexible and much more comfortable than they once were, but be sure to clean yours with an alcohol wipe after use.

The best thermometers to buy now

Best thermometers: Braun Thermoscan 7

(Image credit: Braun)

1. Braun Thermoscan 7

The best thermometer for sheer ease of use

Reasons to buy
+ Exact temperature readings + Included lens filters + Temperature memory + Colour-coded display 

There's no fun in taking someone's temperature six or seven times in a row in order to calculate an average, but that's something some thermometers demand – how do you know you've measured at the right point, or if you've activated the thermometer properly?

Braun's Thermoscan 7 is our top pick for the best thermometer and is also Braun's flagship offering. Not only is this ear-reader extremely accurate, but it includes built in guidance to make sure you're pointing its sensor at the exact right point of the inner ear to get a good reading first-time. 

It even pre-warms the ear tip to ensure it's not too uncomfortable, and keeps a log of the last nine temperature readings.

Best thermometers: Withings Thermo

(Image credit: Withings)

2. Withings Thermo

The best thermometer for smart functionality

Reasons to buy
+ Great for charting temperature+ Non-intrusive + In-app health advice 

If someone has a fever, it's important to keep track of it. Withings calls the Thermo a smart temporal thermometer, which has something of a double meaning: it uses its 16 infrared sensors to take a detailed reading of the forehead and temporal artery, and its smart functionality feeds those readings into a phone  app so you can monitor them over time.

Admittedly this is on the more expensive end of thermometers, but its vibration feature makes it easy to take your own temperature, and the app can also offer some measure of advice – whether it's a recommendation of over-the-counter medicines, or to seek help from a doctor.

Best thermometers: Braun no touch

(Image credit: Braun)

3. Braun No Touch + Touch

The best thermometer for non-contact readings

Reasons to buy
+ Multi-functional + Quick measurements + Backlit for night use 

The Braun No-Touch thermometer is the best thermometer to go for if you want to take readings without bothering your child. Using a thermometer can be pretty invasive, particularly on those who aren't really aware of why you're trying to stick something in their ear, armpit, mouth or worse. Plus, if you're trying to monitor the temperature of an unwell baby, the last thing you want to do is wake them up from a restful nap.

Braun's versatile infra-red thermometer mutes itself with a physical switch, and can get a reading from 2cm away – though you may want to opt for a touch reading taken on the forehead instead. It's also capable of measuring liquid temperatures, so you can check if that bath (or that porridge) is a little too hot. This is hands-down the best thermometer for babies and children.

Best thermometers: Femometer Vinca Basal Thermometer

(Image credit: Femometer)

4. Femometer Vinca Basal Thermometer

The best thermometer for tracking ovulation

Reasons to buy
+Subtle design +Easy to navigate companion app +Button-free operation 

Tracking ovulation with a regular thermometer is neither easy or accurate. To do the job properly you need a basal body thermometer – one designed to take internal temperature with the tightest accuracy possible, and the ability to track changes in your temperature over time. 

Placed under the tongue first thing in the morning, the discrete and compact Femometer feeds its results (which are within 0.1ºF) automatically to its app, and draws up a chart to show when you're ovulating. Our pick for the best thermometer for tracking ovulation does take a couple of minutes to make a reading, but it's easy to use and provides useful insight into your monthly cycle.

Best thermometers: Miniland Thermo Kit

(Image credit: Miniland)

5. Miniland Thermo Kit

The best thermometer for babies

Reasons to buy
+Three thermometers in one pack+Bath temperature readings+Many options for measurement

Taking a baby’s temperature requires a certain mix of cunning and skill, and Miniland’s clever kit gives you three options in one pack. There’s the more traditional body thermometer, which may be the most difficult to employ; it does, at least, have a flexible tip, and if your little one isn’t too ticklish it can be used in the armpit.

Potentially more effective (if your baby can be convinced to use it) is the pacifier thermometer, a soft-ended sucker offers a solid approximation of their internal temperature. Figure in the owl-shaped atmospheric thermometer, which is equally adept at showing the room temperature as it is being slung in a bath to make sure it’s just right, and you’ve got a solid and very affordable package. 

Best thermometers: iProven DTR-1221BG

(Image credit: iProven)

6. iProven DTR-1221BG

The best thermometer for taking internal temperature readings

Reasons to buy
+ Flexible measurements + Reasonably fast + Switchable temperature scales 

While there's a lot to be said for an ear or forehead thermometer, sometimes your doctor might advise you to measure temperature in other places. iProven's flexi-tipped DTR-1221BG thermometer is suitable for both oral and rectal use, can switch between Fahrenheit and Celcius depending on your preferred scale, and gets the job done within 10 seconds. There's no light, so it's tricky to read in the dark, but at least that bright green colouring makes it stand right out in your bathroom cabinet so you won't struggle to find it.

Best thermometers: GroEgg2

(Image credit: Gro)

7. Gro Groegg2 Thermometer

The best thermometer for tracking the temperature of your nursery

Reasons to buy
+Uses colours to indicate temperature+Doubles as a dimmable nightlight 

When you have a little one at home, even if they're not currently poorly, it's important to make sure the conditions are right at night. You'll tuck them in, make sure they've got their favourite soft toy, and take a quick glance at the GroEgg to ensure the temperature is within a safe and comfortable margin.

The great thing for bleary-eyed new parents is that you don't even need to focus on the numbers. Colour coding on the Groegg – which doubles as a dimmable nightlight – gives you that information instantly. It's the Goldilocks of thermometers: Blue is too cold, an angry red is too hot, and a warm orange is just right. 

Where to buy a thermometer right now

Need a thermometer in a hurry, and don't mind what kind? Here's a roundup of in-stock thermometers that are available to order right now.