Most little ones aren’t able to form complete sentences until the age of two to three, and they won’t stop teething until they’re at least two. Those first few years of life can feel like a guessing game of figuring out what they need. When all you have to go off of is crying, it’s hard to tell whether they’re fussy or in pain–especially during the teething stage. To help take some guesswork out of meeting your baby’s needs, read on to learn how to tell if your baby is sick or teething.
Signs Your Baby Is Teething
Many signs can indicate your baby is teething, with some of the earliest signs of teething being poor sleep and excessive drooling. Sometimes, these signs alone aren’t enough to tell, and you may not see a tooth begin to show for some time. If your baby is more irritated than usual, rubbing their cheeks, pulling their ears, or excessively gnawing at objects, they’re likely teething. If you keep an eye on your gums, you’ll see a bump or a tooth begin to pop through about four days after they start getting fussy.
Is Teething Fever a Real Thing?
You may have heard about a symptom not listed above: teething fever. This is because teething fever isn’t something that occurs. Babies tend to have a higher temperature, but teething shouldn’t cause their temperature to rise above 98.5-99 degrees Fahrenheit. If your baby has a fever, even if it’s low grade, it’s likely caused by something besides teething.
Signs Your Baby Is Sick
Now that we know teething doesn’t cause fevers and know the signs of teething, how can you tell if your baby is sick–especially if they don’t have a fever? The most noticeable symptoms are unusual bowel movements such as diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, listlessness, and persistent inconsolable crying. While your baby will, of course, cry, sleep, and fuss often, if it’s anything that’s out of the norm for your baby or that you can’t quell, bring it to their pediatrician’s attention. Consider downloading an app or online template to help keep track of your baby’s normal moods and habits.
If you still can’t tell whether your baby is sick or teething, there’s no shame in contacting your pediatrician to help show you what is and isn’t normal. It’s common for parents, especially first-time parents, to have many questions about their baby’s health, and pediatricians are acutely aware of this. Their job isn’t just to keep your baby healthy but also to show you as a parent how to safeguard their health.