Does teething cause fever in babies? Here is how to tell
We've also included tips to help calm down your baby, too.
Once your baby enters the four- to seven-month-old period, you might notice that they will start acting a little different. They might be much more irritable than usual, drool a lot, or appear unmotivated to eat. Usually, these are just well-known signs of teething. However, one of the more concerning signs of this period is when teething causes fever.
Some of the questions you might have are: really, does teething cause fever or is it something more serious? How will I know what it is? When should I be worried?
We’re here to answer your questions. But first…
How will I know if my baby is teething or not?
Not all babies develop the same, and each child may show different signs of teething. Certain babies show no signs, while other babies fuss a lot. Still, there are a few general signs that could mean that your baby is teething, such as:
- Excessive drooling
- Being much more irritable or picky than normal
- Wailing and crying more often
- If they begin biting on teething rings or solid items and won’t let go
If you notice any of these, it likely means that their front teeth have started to grow. Symptoms tend to worsen between their sixth and 16th months.
How can I tell if teething causes fever, or if he’s actually sick?
The answer is simple: it depends on how serious the fever is. A slight increase in body temperature is likely because of teething, while a fever over 38 degrees probably means that your little one is ill.
But why does fever usually accompany teething in babies? A study from the Journal Paediatrics found out that there were inconsistencies in research. Some studies reported fever to be a clear sign of teething, whereas others didn’t notice anything.
Interestingly, however, there is a link joining multiple eruption of teeth, and fever. Researchers speculate that the increased stress on a baby’s body due to teething could result in weaker immune systems, thereby letting in illnesses and fever.
Still, in their conclusion, the authors did declare that it’s normal for your baby to have a tiny increase in temperature when they’re teething – but it’s not fever. It’s dangerous to assume that teething alone causes fever because you can overlook more serious underlying diseases.
It can also get more confusing for parents as some of the common signs of teething — like irritability, being disinterested in feeding, and being unable to sleep — can also mean that your baby might have contracted an illness.
It might not be easy to tell at first glance, but the following symptoms should serve as a red flag:
- blocked or drippy noses
- watery or liquid stools
- a skin rash
These are signs that point towards a sickness, like a cold or a stomach bug. If you are worried it could be something serious, do consult a paediatrician for further an accurate diagnosis.
What can I do to calm my baby?
So you’ve checked with the paediatrician and concluded that maybe your baby isn’t ill. It’s just a case of him growing teeth (and his teething causes fever). How do you help relieve of his symptoms?
Here’s a short, handy guide to help you, mums and dads!
Do apply pressure onto their gums, by…
- washing your hands and rubbing the gums
- letting your little one bite a rubber teething ring that’s been cooled (but not chilled or frozen!) in the fridge
- using a moist washcloth (cooled in the fridge, too) if you happen to be missing a teething ring.
- Let the teething ring become too cold. Yes, cold objects do help to soothe your baby – but not if they are extremely cold. In fact, frozen teething rings:
- can actually harm your little one’s gums!
- can risk the ring bursting open and leaking its contents.
- Massage your little one’s gums with gels or give them teething tablets. That’s because:
- they don’t always soothe the baby.
- some products may contain belladonna (a toxic plant) or benzocaine (a chemical that helps to numb gums). Both can be damaging to your little one. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration in the US also explains that it’s possible both active ingredients could reduce oxygen levels in the bloodstream.
- Give your little one ibuprofen unless they are at least six months old or a paediatrician says so. These medicines might help to soothe the pain from teething, but ibuprofen is a strong medicine, which could lead to some undesirable effects. There have been cases of babies being allergic to ibuprofen. You can opt for baby paracetamol, but if you are worried or are unsure, it‘s best to always best to ask a medical professional first.
When should I visit the doctor?
As mentioned before, if your baby is irritable, it could mean that they’re either sick or teething. There are, however, some clear signs that you should bring your child to a paediatrician. Do consult your paediatrician if your child:
- is below three months of age* and is suffering from a fever of 38 degrees Celsius or higher.
- is older than three months and has a temperature that reads 39 degrees Celsius on the thermometer.
- remains feverish after a day.
- passes watery stools, vomits, or sports rashes.
- appears drowsy or ill.
- doesn’t calm down no matter what you do.
Your baby growing their first set of teeth (and when teething causes fever) may be annoying for both you and your baby. But don’t forget that teething is just a period of development – it won’t last forever.
*Disclaimer: If you see any rise in temperature in babies under 3-months-old, please visit a paediatrician.