Teething, which happens when babies’ teeth first break through their gums, can cause drooling, pain, and fussiness. Babies usually start to teethe by six months, but every child is different. Typically, the two front teeth on the bottom gums come in first.
While some parents believe that teething can cause a fever, there’s no evidence to support this idea. It’s true that teething may slightly increase a baby’s temperature, but it won’t spike enough to cause a fever.
If your baby has a fever at the same time as they are teething, another, unrelated illness is likely the cause. Read on to learn more about symptoms of teething in babies.
While every baby responds to pain differently, there are some common signs that may alert you that your little one is teething or sick.
Symptoms of teething may include:
- rash on the face (typically caused by a skin reaction to drool)
- gum pain
- fussiness or irritability
- trouble sleeping
Contrary to popular belief, teething does not cause fever, diarrhea, diaper rash, or a runny nose.
Fever symptoms in a baby
Generally, a fever in babies is defined as a temperature above 100.4°F (38°C).
Other symptoms of a fever are:
- chills or shivering
- loss of appetite
- body aches
Fevers can be caused by:
- bacterial infections
- heat exhaustion
- certain medical conditions affecting the immune system
- some types of cancer
Sometimes, doctors can’t identify the exact cause of a fever.
If your baby seems uncomfortable or in pain, there are remedies that can help.
Rub the gums
You may be able to relieve some of the discomfort by rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger, a small cool spoon, or a moist gauze pad.
Use a teether
Teethers that are made of solid rubber can help soothe your baby’s gums. You can put teethers in the refrigerator to chill, but don’t put them in the freezer. Extreme temperature changes may cause the plastic to leak chemicals. Also, try to avoid teething rings with liquid inside, as they can break or leak.
Try pain medication
If your infant is very irritable, ask their pediatrician if you can give them acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease the pain. Do not give your baby these medications for more than a day or two unless directed by their doctor.
Avoid dangerous teething products
Certain teething products that were used in the past are now considered harmful. These include:
- Numbing gels. Anbesol, Orajel, Baby Orajel, and Orabase contain benzocaine, an over-the-counter (OTC) anesthetic. The use of benzocaine has been linked to a rare, but serious, condition called methemoglobinemia. The
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)recommends that parents avoid using these products on children younger than 2 years.
- Teething tablets. The FDA discourages parents from using homeopathic teething tablets after lab testing showed some of these products contained higher levels of belladonna — a toxic substance known as nightshade — that appeared on the label.
- Teething necklaces. These newer teething devices, made of amber, can cause strangulation or choking if the pieces break off.
If your baby has a fever, certain measures may make them more comfortable at home.
Give baby lots of fluids
Fevers can cause dehydration, so it’s important to make sure your baby is getting enough fluids throughout the day. You may want to try an oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte if they are vomiting or refusing their milk, but most of the time their usual breast milk or formula is fine.
Make sure baby gets rest
Babies need rest so their bodies can recover, especially while fighting a fever.
Keep baby cool
Dress babies in light clothing, so they don’t become overheated. You may also try placing a cool washcloth on your child’s head and giving them a lukewarm sponge bath.
Give baby pain medication
Ask your child’s pediatrician if you can give your baby a dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen to bring the fever down.
Most symptoms of teething can be managed at home. But, if your baby is unusually fussy or uncomfortable, it’s never a bad idea to make an appointment with their pediatrician.
Fevers in babies 3 months and younger are considered serious. Call your child’s pediatrician right away if your newborn has a fever.
If your baby is older than 3 months but younger than 2 years, you should call your pediatrician if they have a fever that:
- surges above 104°F (40°C)
- persists for more than 24 hours
- seems to worsen
Also, seek medical care right away if your baby has a fever and:
- looks or acts very ill
- is unusually irritable or drowsy
- has a seizure
- has been in a very hot place (such as the inside of a car)
- a stiff neck
- seems to have severe pain
- a rash
- persistent vomiting
- has an immune system disorder
- is on steroid medicines
Teething can cause gum pain and fussiness in babies as the new teeth break through the gums, but one symptom it won’t cause is a fever. Your baby’s body temperature might climb just a little, but not enough to worry about. If your child has a fever, they probably have another illness unrelated to teething.
See a pediatrician if you’re concerned about your baby’s teething symptoms.