That first smile with their first shiny tooth is a great milestone for you and your baby, but boy! It doesn’t always come easy, does it? The fussiness. The drooling. The overwhelming urge to chew on anything and everything (and that’s just you).
But can teething cause vomiting? Or is being sick a sign that there’s something else going on?
In this article: 📝
- What causes a baby to vomit?
- Does teething cause vomiting?
- When should I take my baby to the doctor for vomiting?
- Other things to watch out for during teething
- Vomiting and teething: The final word
What causes a baby to vomit?
Young babies spit up a lot. Their tummies are sensitive, and the muscle at the top doesn’t finish forming until later in their first year. This means that if they drink too much, or bounce around after they’re finished their dinner, their food can make a second appearance, usually all over their clothes or your furniture.
And can teething cause spitting up? Probably, yes.
But there’s a difference between spitting up and vomiting. Spit up is a small amount of milk coming up with air that was trapped in your baby’s tummy. Vomiting is more forceful, usually involves coughing or retching, and it happens because their body wants to get rid of something that shouldn’t be there. Could this be linked to cutting a new tooth?
Does teething cause vomiting?
Generally, no. There’s no proven link between teething and vomiting. Babies are most likely to vomit if they have an infection like a stomach bug, or if they’ve eaten something that doesn’t agree with them.
If your baby is vomiting around the same time a new tooth is on the way, there are a few other possibilities that could explain it:
When they’re teething, babies dribble a lot. Some people notice a link between this extra drool running down into their tummies and looser stools, or more spit up than usual.
Also, if your little one teeths early, before they can confidently roll over or sit up, it can be difficult for them to clear the drool from their throats when they’re lying down. Sometimes this can lead to coughing and vomiting. They’ll be completely fine afterward, but this can be scary at the time.
Bugs, germs, and a lower immune system
Most babies start to teeth between four and seven months. Around this time, some of the passive immunity they got from their mamas while in the womb starts to get weaker. Breastfed babies might also be dropping some feeds, which means that they get less of an immune boost from breast milk.
All of this makes it slightly more likely that they’ll pick up a tummy bug or another infection which could lead to vomiting, rather than the teething itself.
By around six months, a lot of babies have started to try different solid foods. Turns out, this is around the same time that lots of them get their first teeth.
If your baby is sick around this time, they might have discovered a food that they’re allergic to. Common culprits are yogurt, which contains cow’s milk, eggs, soy, wheat, or red foods like tomatoes and strawberries. If you think your baby has a food allergy, mention it to your doctor.
When should I take my baby to the doctor for vomiting?
Vomiting in very young babies (under two months) always merits a visit to the doctor.
In babies older than six months, call the doctor if they’ve been vomiting for more than eight to 12 hours, if their stomach seems tender or sore, or if the vomit is green in color.
If your baby shows signs of dehydration, you should also take them to the doctor straight away. Watch out for:
- No wet diapers for 6-8 hours or more
- No tears when they’re crying
- Dry mouth
- Cold hands
- Sunken eyes
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart rate
Other things to watch out for during teething
While we’re at it, vomiting isn’t the only symptom of illness that can occur with teething. Lots of other common teething problems overlap with more serious complaints. Let’s take a look at the most common ones to keep an eye on:
Runny nose and cough
Yes, teething messes with your peanut’s whole head. It can make their cheeks hot and red, their ears sore, and even produce more snot than usual. But a very runny nose, especially if it’s green or yellow, and especially if they also have a cough, might well be a cold.
It’s normal for the extra drool that babies make while teething to bring out some red spots on their chin or neck. But if they have a rash elsewhere on their body, it’s best to have it checked by a professional.
Can teething cause diarrhea? Teething drool can occasionally make your baby’s diaper a little runnier than usual. But true diarrhea —which is three or more very loose or watery stools in one day, mucus in their poop, and/or an unusually bad smell—is more likely to be a stomach bug or allergy.
If your baby has diarrhea, it’s important to monitor them for signs of dehydration and keep offering them breastmilk, formula, or water (if they’re older than six months).
Lots of people say that teething leads to fever, and in some babies, you might notice a very mild, short-term rise in their temperature. But a fever of over 100.4°F is more than just teething.
If your baby is younger than three months, any fever over 100.4°F should be seen by a doctor, even before you give them medication to try to get it down.
If they’re three to six months old, the magic number is 102°F. And if they’re over six months, check in with your doctor if their fever has stayed at 102°F for over 24 hours.
Of course, you should always trust your instincts, and if it’s clear that they’re uncomfortable or if they’re becoming difficult to wake up, don’t wait to get medical help.
Vomiting and teething: The final word
So, do babies throw up when teething? Well, they like to keep you guessing, and teething symptoms are no exception. But while symptoms like a cough, a very mild fever, and some extra stinky diapers could mean teething or another common childhood bug, vomiting is more likely to mean that your little one is sick, than that their teeth are bothering them.
But don’t despair. Illnesses get better.
And before we go, could we just say? Check you out! Calling the differences between subtle symptoms? You’re nailing this mamahood thing!