Teething or Temp?

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Over the years I’ve heard this from scores of moms …”My baby has a fever of 101 (or 102, or 103), but he’s teething — so I don’t need to worry, right?”

Pediatricians don’t know where this one came from, but we DO know that it’s just not so. Teething — that process by which those adorable primary teeth push their way up through those little gums — does not cause fever … or runny nose, or diarrhea.

Teething starts anytime between about 4 and 6 months, and continues on and off through toddlerhood. We all know the signs: Lots of drooling, putting hands, toys, feet, and anything else that’ll fit into the mouth, and periods of CRANKY CRANKY CRANKY. Often, babies who’ve just recently mastered sleeping through the night will suddenly start waking up every few hours. And moms want to pull their hair out.

It’s safe to say your child is teething on-and-off, most of the time between 4 and 24 months, so when fever comes on the scene it’s an easy scapegoat. But fever and those other symptoms are most often caused by an infection (usually a virus or bacteria), not teething.

HIDDEN PEARL: My favorite teething remedy … take several of those small, soft baby wash cloths, moisten them, and place in the freezer in ziploc bags. When your little guy is looking for something to chew, just grab one and let him have at it. It’s safe, soothing, and reusable.

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Ellen and Rachel are two old friends and “expert” mamas—one a pediatrician and one a family therapist—with fifty years of parenting experience between them.


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