Monitoring Diabetes

Basal Bolus Safety Skills Training

Learn tips on how to monitor diabetes. 

Blood sugar testing

Why is it important to check blood sugars?

  • It helps you make decisions about insulin, food and activity.
  • It helps you keep the blood sugars in range.

What is the ideal range for my child’s blood sugar before meals?

  • The diabetes team will help you set a range that works best for your child.
    • Younger than 6 years: 80 to 180
    • 6 to 12 years: 70 to 165
    • 13 years and older: 70 to 150

How do I check my child’s blood sugar?

  • Follow the instructions for your lancing device and glucose meter.
  • The nurse will teach you how to use them.
    • Make sure fingertips are clean and dry.
    • Use one drop of blood.
    • Hold fingertips lower than the heart.
    • Use a new, sterile lancet. Lancets are for one use only.
    • Keep your lancing device and glucose meter clean.
    • Never share a lancet or a lancing device with anyone.

When should I check my child’s blood sugar?

  • Test before all meals and snacks. You need to know the pre-meal blood sugar to decide on an insulin dose.
  • Test blood sugar at least 3 hours after last insulin injection.
  • Testing sooner may lead to a false high blood sugar.
  • Checking blood sugar 3 hours after a meal tells you if the amount of insulin your child took for that meal is working.

Other times you will need to test your child’s blood sugar:

  • When you think your child is having a low blood sugar
  • After exercising for 30 minutes
  • After treating a low blood sugar
  • When your child is sick
  • When you need more information
  • If your child has a very active day
  • Before your teen drives a motor vehicle
  • When you change your child’s insulin dose

Will I always have to test blood sugar this often?

  • Yes. Frequent blood sugar testing is necessary for good diabetes control.

How do I know if the number on the glucose meter is correct?

  • If a number on the meter does not make sense, always recheck it.
  • The most common mistake is not putting enough blood on the strip. This gives a false low reading.
  • Wet fingers can dilute the drop of blood and also give a false low reading. Wash and dry hands well.
  • Food on the hands may give a false high reading.

What is Alternate Site Testing (AST)?

  • Some meters allow you to test blood sugar on palms and forearms.
  • Some children find this less painful.
  • In the beginning we will teach you to use your child’s fingertips.
  • Discuss AST with your diabetes provider before using.

Are there times I should not use AST?

  • Do not use AST when your child’s blood sugar could be rising or dropping.
  • Do not use AST when your child is:
    • Exercising
    • Sick
    • Testing a blood sugar before driving a car
    • Unable to feel a low blood sugar (hypoglycemia unawareness)
  • At these times, check blood sugar on fingertips to make your decisions.
  • Repeat any high or low blood sugar reading using the fingertips.

What do I do if my meter breaks?

  • Call the number on the back of your meter.
    • They can often talk you through the problem on the phone.
    • If not, they will arrange to send you a new meter.

Ketone testing

What are ketones?

  • Ketones are strong acids that come from fat breakdown.
  • Fat breaks down when there is not enough insulin.
  • Ketones are found in the urine and blood.
  • Ketones make the body sick.

When should I test my child’s urine for ketones?

  • When blood sugar is over 240
  • When your child is sick or beginning to get sick

How do I test the urine for ketones?

  • Dip a ketone dipstick into a fresh urine sample or have your child urinate on the end of the strip.
  • Ketones will turn the dipstick a pink or purple color.
  • Refer to the package insert for color codes for your brand of ketone test strips.
  • Wait the amount of time stated in the directions.
  • Note if urine ketones are negative, trace, small, moderate or large.

What else do I need to know about ketone strips?

  • Some strips test the urine for more than just ketones. Look for pink-purple ketone color.
  • Ketone strips will not work correctly if they have expired.
  • Make a note of the date you open the box. Write it on the box. Ketone strips expire in 6 months after opening, or on the expiration date listed on the box (whichever is first).
  • Protect your ketone strips from moisture and light.
  • Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

girl testing blood sugar

Tools to Manage Diabetes

These resources will help your child and family manage blood sugar testing, highs and lows, insulin, nutrition, and more.

young boy smiling

Life With Diabetes

Review our information about support and coping, school, teen topics, and general well-being.