How to Soothe a Teething Baby

My baby has a fever and a touch of diarrhea. Is that because he's teething?

Some doctors don't buy into the idea that these symptoms are related to teething, but other pediatricians, myself included, see a connection. The usual scenario is that a parent will bring in an irritable 6-month-old who has a low-grade fever (less than 100.5 degrees) and some mild diarrhea. The child is also drooling and chewing on his fingers or anything else near his mouth. An exam doesn't show any problem, and the parent is sent home with instructions for managing the fever. Then, two or three days later, a new tooth appears -- and soon after that the fever and diarrhea disappear. Be aware, though, that we sometimes blame these symptoms on teething when they may actually be the result of an infection. A good guideline is that whatever problem you think is due to teething should pass with treatment within 24 hours. If it doesn't your baby may actually be sick with something else and should be seen by a doctor.

What if my baby is pulling on his ear? Is that due to teething?

It's often hard to tell why a baby is pulling at his ear. Sometimes it's because there's too much wax in there, or he could have an ear infection. Some babies pull on their ear when they're sleepy. I usually tell parents to look at what else is going on at the same time. If your baby is casually scratching or rubbing at his ear but seems happy and playful, with only intermittent bouts of fussiness, then the problem may simply be teething -- a reaction to the tingling of the tooth nerves. But if your child has a moderate to high fever (higher than 101 degrees), gets more irritable when lying down or being fed, and has recently had a cold with congestion, an ear infection is the more likely cause.

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