4 Easy Ways to Tell If Your Baby Is Sick or Just Teething

It seems like teething and being sick go hand in hand, but can’t you have one without the other? Check out 4 ways how to find out if your baby is really sick or just teething!

It seems like teething and being sick go hand in hand, but can you have one without the other? Check out 4 ways how to find out if your baby is really sick or just teething!

One of our readers recently came to us with a teething question. She wants to know if it’s a given that when a baby is teething, he or she will be sick. We’ve all been there – your little one is in pain from cutting a tooth, and a monster of a cold comes along just to add insult to injury. Does it always have to happen this way?

It doesn’t. In fact, it’s not unusual for parents to blame teething for symptoms that could actually be something else. If you have any concerns regarding your baby’s symptoms, please visit your pediatrician. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to determining if your baby is simply teething or if he is sick.

4 Ways to Tell the Difference Between a Teething Baby and A Sick Baby

  1. A low-grade fever with teething isn’t unusual, but it shouldn’t persist. A 2016 study documented by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that a fever (generally considered to be a temperature over 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit) is not caused by teething. An elevated body temperature is normal, however, so if your baby has a low-grade fever, don’t be alarmed. If the fever is higher than 100.6 or doesn’t seem to be going away, it’s time to see the doctor.
  1. Drooling, loss of appetite, and a runny nose often accompany teething. The first tooth usually shows up between 4 and 7 months, and the day before it erupts through a day or two after, your baby may drool excessively, have a runny nose, and not be as interested in eating (sucking tends to be painful for those sore gums). You’ll also notice that she’s a little on the cranky side. If these symptoms show up out of nowhere, take a peek inside her mouth. Swollen gums are a clear indicator of a tooth on its way.
  1. Vomiting and diarrhea are not symptoms of teething. While there are symptoms of teething that could also be indicators of illness, there are others that definitely aren’t. If your baby is vomiting or has diarrhea, he definitely has a bug of some sort. Make sure he stays hydrated, and if either symptom persists for longer than a day, a visit to the pediatrician is in order.
  1. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen should help relieve teething discomfort. If you give your baby the appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen (talk with your pediatrician for age and weight recommendations for proper dosing) and it doesn’t seem to help with the pain and discomfort, it is likely there is an underlying virus or other bug your little one is fighting.

Sickness and teething are not mutually exclusive. If your baby has more than the usual teething symptoms, it can’t hurt to call the pediatrician and get a consultation. Fortunately, if it is teething, the discomfort and other symptoms should go away in just a couple of days and your baby will be back to his normal self. In the meantime, offer a wet washcloth or cold teether and soak up plenty of snuggles.

What do you think? Do teething and being sick seem to come together with your baby? Share your thoughts and experiences below!


16 thoughts on “4 Easy Ways to Tell If Your Baby Is Sick or Just Teething”

  1. This is very informative. I’m sure parents will love this post when searching for answers. I’m not a mother yet and really appreciate learning about this now.

  2. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

    This is great info. When my kids where babies I found it hard to tell when it was just teething or when it was really something else.

  3. Teething is the worst! I am always in the camp that I am hoping it is teething until a higher fever proves me wrong.

  4. It’s a big adjustment when babies start teething, which is at times reason they get sick and lose their appetite. It’s really best to consult a pediatrician whenever there are symptoms.

  5. I have always wondered how mothers know what the baby needs. I am not a mum yet but I will surely remember this for my future babies.

  6. Our baby has a lot of trouble with teething. She is so cranky and acts like she feels terrible. She has the fever too. Usually ibuprofen helps though.

  7. Thankfully my kids never had too much trouble with teething! I don’t remember them being sick when they were cutting teeth, but they weren’t in daycare to catch many bugs either.

  8. This is a great article for new parents. It’s hard to figure it out sometimes, especially with all the advice we get from all over!

  9. Jen At Dapperhouse

    I think that this is a great article because my kids got very sick when teething. I look back on these times and wonder how we all made it through!

  10. It really is difficult to tell the difference. Just like with shots too. When my youngest got his first shots he got really ill and what we thought was a reaction ended up being a bad cold.

  11. I agree with everyone else, it’s difficult to tell the difference. One of the telltale signs for me was the constant messing with their mouths when they were cutting teeth but that was always the case.

  12. This is great for first time moms. It is hard to tell some times. My son would always drool a ton and I always knew that sign was teething because he only did that when he was cutting new teeth.

  13. Sometimes tough to tell. Mine always got a stuffy nose and acted like they had colds. Soon as that tooth popped everything went away.

  14. It was always so hard to tell if my baby was teething or sick. Thanks for clearing everything up. First time moms will really benefit from this info.

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