Vital Signs - Children

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Child with nurseWhen you come to the hospital, the nurse will need to know how you are feeling.

  • He or she will measure your temperature, heartbeat, breathing sounds, and blood pressure. These are called your "vital signs."
  • Your vital signs will be measured three or more times during the day. These are some ways for the doctors and nurses to see how the inside of your body is doing.
  • Special equipment is used like a thermometer, stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff.
  • Just remember, these things should not hurt.


Thermometer  Nurse with thermometer

  • A nurse or PCA will need to measure your temperature. PCA stands for Patient Care Assistant. This is someone who helps the nurse.
  • A thermometer will be used to see how warm the inside of your body is.
  • The thermometer will be placed under your tongue or under your arm.
  • This will only take a minute to do and will not hurt.
  • Once this is done, a nurse or PCA will read the numbers on the machine to find out your body temperature.

What is a stethescope?

Stethoscope Nurse with Stethoscope

  • The nurse will want to listen to your heartbeat and breathing sounds by using a stethoscope.
  • The stethoscope will help make the sounds in your body louder.
  • When it is time to listen, the nurse will place the stethoscope over your shirt on your chest and back. 
  • There may be times when a nurse needs to put the stethoscope next to your skin. It may feel a little cold at first.
  • The nurse might ask you to take slow, deep breaths in and out. 

Have you ever listened to your own heart with the stethoscope? If you ask the nurse, maybe you can give it a try!

What is a blood pressure cuff?

Patient with blood pressure cuff

  • A blood pressure cuff measures the pressure of your blood moving in your body.
  • The blood pressure cuff on the machine is made of a cloth and plastic material.
  • It will wrap snugly around your arm or leg. Your job is to hold really still. 
  • The blood pressure cuff will fill up with air and begin to give your arm or leg a tight hug. It may feel a little funny. 
  • After a few seconds the air is let out of the cuff and the nurse will read the numbers on the machine. These numbers will let her know what your blood pressure is.