Don’t dismiss a baby’s diarrhea as teething

Teething alone won’t cause diarrhea. A child could have looser stools while teething, as sore gums could encourage them to drink or nurse more, increasing fluid intake. Parents should take it seriously, however, if a child is having diarrhea throughout the day.

“Some parents tend to think that the diarrhea is less serious if it’s only ‘because the child is teething,’” said Joseph C. Pappalardo, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Group – Jeffersontown. “The reality is, diarrhea can lead to a child becoming dehydrated, whether they’re teething or not.”

Teething won’t cause diarrhea, but will bring on relatively minor symptoms such as drooling, a slightly elevated temperature and perhaps more irritability. If your baby develops a fever during the teething phase, something else is probably causing the fever — and you should contact your pediatrician.

Signs of dehydration

Call your pediatrician if you see any of these symptoms. Dehydration is a concern if your child:

  • Won’t take anything to drink for more than a few hours
  • Is under 1 year old and is drinking only oral rehydration solution, such as Pedialyte (no breastmilk or formula) for 24 hours
  • Vomits more than a few times in 24 hours
  • Has vomit that’s bright green, red or brown
  • Hasn’t started eating some food within three to four days
  • Dry mouth, fewer wet diapers (with babies), no tears when crying, or sunken soft spot (fontanelle) on the top of the head
  • No signs of improvement

Norton Children’s Medical Group

Our pediatricians provide routine well checks and preventive medicine, as well as treat minor illnesses and injuries in newborns to teenagers.
For your family’s convenience, we see new patients within 24 hours and offer same-day sick appointments.

(502) 629-KIDS (5437), option 3

Tips for making teething easier

  • Gently wipe your baby’s face often with a cloth to remove the drool and prevent rashes from developing.
  • Rub your baby’s gums with a clean finger.
  • Give your baby something to chew on. Make sure it’s big enough that it can’t be swallowed or cause choking and that it can’t break into small pieces. A wet washcloth placed in the freezer for 30 minutes makes a handy teething aid. Be sure to take it out of the freezer before it becomes rock-hard.
  • Avoid rubber teething rings with liquid inside because they may break or leak. If you use a teething ring, chill it in the refrigerator, but NOT the freezer. Also, never boil to sterilize it — extreme changes in temperature could damage the plastic and make it unsafe.
  • Teething biscuits and frozen or cold food are helpful for kids who already eat solid foods. Don’t use them if your child has not yet started solids. Watch your baby to make sure that no pieces break off or pose a choking hazard.
  • If your baby seems irritable and is older than 6 months, check with your pediatrician before giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • Never place an aspirin against the tooth, and don’t rub alcohol on your baby’s gums.
  • Teething gels and tablets may not be safe for babies.