There’s no clear link between teething and vomiting. If your baby is vomiting or experiencing teething symptoms outside of soreness in the mouth, talk with your pediatrician.

Teething is an exciting and important milestone in your baby’s life. It means that soon your child will be able to start eating a variety of new foods. For your baby, however, it’s often not such a pleasant experience.

Since all children go through it at some point, teething is one of the most common sources of concern for new parents. Every baby experiences different symptoms during teething. The most common symptoms are irritability and loss of appetite.

Some parents report more serious symptoms of teething like vomiting, fever, and diarrhea. Whether or not vomiting is actually caused by teething is controversial. However, there’s no research available to support the link between vomiting and teething. Most experts agree that while localized soreness and pain may occur, teething doesn’t cause symptoms elsewhere in the body, like rash, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Consult your family doctor or pediatrician if your baby is vomiting or has any other severe symptoms. And don’t try to treat your child yourself. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t currently recommend any type of drug, herb, or homeopathic medication for teething. Your doctor will want to evaluate your baby to determine if something else is causing the vomiting.

When does teething begin?

According to the American Dental Association, babies start teething when they are between 4 and 7 months old. The bottom teeth, known as pegs, typically come in first, followed by the top center teeth. The rest of the teeth cut through the gums over a period of two years. By the time a child is 3 years old, they should have their primary set of 20 teeth.

Other symptoms of teething

Some teeth will grow in without any pain or discomfort at all. Others cause soreness and redness of the gums. Often, babies are irritable and don’t have an appetite.

Babies might also show some of the following symptoms when they begin teething:

  • chewing
  • drooling
  • changes in feeding frequency or amount
  • crying
  • irritability
  • inability to sleep
  • loss of appetite
  • red, tender, and swollen gums

Parents are understandably concerned when their child is upset, crying, or fussy. They want an explanation for any symptom their child experiences. But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, none of the following symptoms consistently and accurately predict the onset of teething:

  • cough
  • disturbed sleep
  • decreased appetite for liquids
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea or increased stools
  • rash
  • high fever

Why might my baby vomit while teething?

Teething happens during a large part of a baby’s life and during a time when your baby is already going through a lot of growing pains. For this reason, teething is often wrongly blamed for many symptoms.

However, research shows that coughing, congestion, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, high fever (over 102˚F), and sleep issues aren’t symptoms of teething. One study of 125 children found that these symptoms were not significantly associated with tooth emergence. Furthermore, the study found that no set of symptoms could accurately predict the onset of teething.

The American Academy of Pediatrics explains that during this time, your baby’s passive immunity from maternal antibodies fades and your infant is exposed to a wide range of illnesses, including viruses and bacteria. So it’s more likely that your baby’s vomiting has another cause.

In the past, before teething was understood, people would try treating the teething with unproven, often very dangerous methods. This even included cutting the gums to relieve pressure. This dangerous practice would often lead to infections and other serious problems. If you are concerned with your baby’s symptoms, you should only seek advice from a doctor.

Can teething symptoms be managed?

To ease the discomfort and tender gums, you can try massaging or rubbing the gums with your fingers or give your infant a cool teething ring or a clean washcloth to chew on. If your infant is chewing, you can try to give them healthy things to chew, like raw fruit and vegetables — as long as you are sure pieces cannot break off and cause choking. You should also stay close by in case they choke.

Don’t give your child pain relievers or medication that you rub on their gums, like viscous lidocaine or benzocaine products. These types of medications can be harmful for your baby if swallowed. The FDA warns against using these medications for teething due to the risk of overdose.

Symptoms of an overdose include:

  • jitteriness
  • confusion
  • vomiting
  • seizures

If your child is vomiting, it’s probably not because of teething. Consult your pediatrician.

When to see a doctor

Teething can normally be dealt with at home. However, if your baby develops a high fever or has any symptoms not normally associated with teething, see your doctor.

You should also visit your doctor if your baby is vomiting frequently, has diarrhea, or just seems particularly uncomfortable. Some symptoms, like vomiting, shouldn’t be attributed to teething, as they may have a more serious underlying cause. Your doctor might want to run a few tests to rule out other causes of your baby’s symptoms.

“Studies have not shown any specific symptoms to be caused by teething. If your baby has persistent or recurring vomiting, or seems ill, don’t assume this is from teething. Check with your doctor instead.”
– Karen Gill, San Francisco-based pediatrician