When your baby's teeth start to poke through the gums, usually between 4 and 7 months, the signs shouldn't be hard to spot. Crankiness, drooling, and less interest in feeding are all classic symptoms of teething.
Teething can raise your baby's body temperature, but only slightly. Any fever over 100.4 F is a sign that your child is probably sick.
How to Tell If Your Baby Is Teething
Every baby is different. Some barely whimper when they're teething. Others cry and are cranky for long periods of time.
It's probably teething if your baby:
- Drools a lot
- Is extra fussy or cranky
- Cries more than usual
- Chews on teething rings or other firm objects
Your baby is most likely to show these signs when the front teeth come in. Expect the worst of the symptoms to hit between 6 and 16 months.
How to Tell If Your Child Is Sick
A sick baby can also be cranky and have trouble eating and sleeping. Your baby has probably picked up a cold, stomach bug, or other illness if they:
If you're still not sure what's going on, check with your pediatrician.
How to Soothe Sore Gums
If your baby is teething, the best way to calm them is to put pressure on their gums. You can massage them with a clean finger or give your baby a rubber teething ring to chew on.
Cool objects feel good to a teething baby. But it can hurt their gums if it's too cold. Putting a teething ring in the freezer can also make it break open and leak. Instead, put the ring in the fridge until it's cool. If you don't have a teething ring handy, stick a wet washcloth in the fridge instead.
Don't use gels that you rub on your baby's gums or teething tablets. They don't typically help, and some have belladonna (a poisonous plant) or benzocaine (a medicine that numbs their gums), and both can be harmful. The FDA has warned against these because of the possibility of a dangerous side effect: They can lower the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream.
When to Call the Doctor
Teething babies can be cranky, and they often are. But watch for signs that your child is really sick. Call your doctor if your baby:
- Is under 3 months old and has a temperature over 100.4 F
- Is over 3 months old and has a fever over 102 F
- Has a fever that lasts longer than 24 hours
- Has diarrhea, vomiting, or a rash with the fever
- Is very sleepy or looks sick
- Can't be soothed
Teething can be a frustrating time for both your baby and you. Remember that this is just another phase. In the meantime, keep your baby as comfortable as possible. And when those first teeth pop up, brush them each day with a soft-bristled children's toothbrush to keep them healthy.