Have you noticed a connection between teething symptoms and the contents of your little one’s diaper? If so, you may be wondering, does teething cause diarrhea?
Thankfully, the short answer is no.
While teething sometimes coincides with diarrhea, it’s not a root cause, and the medical community has disproved this widely-held belief.
If your baby is experiencing teething and diarrhea simultaneously, these should be treated as separate issues.
Signs of diarrhea, in particular, shouldn’t be ignored, as this can lead to dehydration or other serious medical problems.
Read on to learn more about teething and diarrhea.
First, let’s talk teething
And as your little one’s pearly whites start appearing, they may experience some discomfort and irritability.
The tell-tale signs of teething are:
- Drooling: Who knew such a tiny being could produce so much saliva? Their clothes may become damp with the amount of drool they’re making, so it’s handy to have a spare set of baby grows and baby wipes on hand during this time!
- Biting: To relieve the pain of teething, your little one might start reaching for anything and everything to put in their mouth. They may be chewing or biting their toys, which is a standard behavior in teething babies.
- Rash: If there’s a lot of drool, a rash may begin to appear on your baby’s cheeks. This can often be treated by keeping the area clean and applying moisturizer to the affected area.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also warns against linking certain behaviors in your baby with teething when it could be something else.
Signs not linked to teething:
- A slight rise in temperature: If your baby’s temperature increases, keep a close eye on them. This is not a symptom of teething and could point to a more serious illness. If your baby has a fever, seek medical assistance.
- Diarrhea, diaper rash, and runny noses: These are often attributed to ‘teething’ when, in reality, there’s no link, just timing in terms of development. Diarrhea is not a teething symptom.
Incorrectly associating these symptoms to teething could cause a delay in treatment.
So, why do many people believe there’s a link between baby teething and diarrhea in infants?
Will teething cause diarrhea?
It may sound a bit backward but, at six months, your baby is more susceptible to picking up germs than they were immediately after they were born.
When first born, babies gain “passive immunities” from their mamas through the placenta.
However, as your baby’s immune system is exposed to new and different bacteria, viruses, and illnesses, they may experience fever, diarrhea, and other symptoms.
At the same time (six months), it’s likely your baby will start teething. This is why many people previously connected baby teething with diarrhea.
So, teething itself doesn’t directly cause diarrhea, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an indirect link.
How to stop baby diarrhea from teething
As your baby teethes, it’s likely they’ll chew everything in sight (including their fingers, toys, and clothes) for some much-needed pain relief.
And, as babies still have a developing immune system, putting objects – which could harbor harmful bacteria – into their mouths could make them unwell, causing symptoms including diarrhea.
Keeping any potential teething-soothing aids that your baby may chew on clean is the best way to prevent exposure to harmful germs.
What’s in a poop?
Now we know that the answer to “do babies get diarrhea when teething?” is more to do with developmental timing rather than a link between the two conditions, let’s consider one of the ways to check for diarrhea.
The health of your baby is often linked to their poop. Just as adults have a change in consistency, color, or smell in their stool if something is amiss, babies do too.
However, babies can’t tell you when something is wrong, so it’s handy to know what to look out for when it comes to your baby’s stinky diapers.
Let’s talk through the stages of poop:
- Your baby’s first poop is known as meconium, and this will be a dark black color, potentially with a greenish hue.
- Breastfed babies will usually produce poop of a yellow, runny texture.
- Bottle-fed babies are also likely to have poop of a yellowish color, but with a more solid texture as they don’t break down the formula as easily.
- When your baby moves on to solid food, their poop will mirror this and be more solid and brown in color. Whenever you decide to give your baby solids, there will likely be a change in the texture and look of their poop.
So, now we know what ‘regular’ poop looks like, how about diarrhea-type poop?
The signs of diarrhea can be noted in a change in your baby’s stool’s texture, color, frequency, and smell.
- Texture: If your baby has diarrhea, their poop is likely to be watery and loose. If a baby’s stool is like this for three diaper changes or more, they likely have diarrhea.
- Color: One clear sign of diarrhea is the color of the poop. If it’s green or a different shade of yellow, then it could be diarrhea.
- Frequency: If you find yourself having to change your little one’s diaper frequently, this could be a sign that they have diarrhea.
- Smell: The smell of diarrhea is distinctly unpleasant, and so it’s likely you’ll be able to tell from the aroma that something is wrong with your little one.
The World Health Organisation defines diarrhea as “the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day (or more frequent passage than is normal for the individual).”
It also lists dehydration as the most significant threat posed to infants suffering from diarrhea.
Signs of dehydration to look out for:
- Infrequent urination (less than six wet diapers a day)
- Dry mouth
- Sunken spot in the center of the head
- Loose stools
- Irritability or not playing as much as usual
And if your baby is displaying the following signs alongside diarrhea, you should consult your doctor immediately:
- Blood in stool
- Vomiting that lasts more than 12 hours
- Fever that lasts longer than 24 hours
- Refusal to eat or drink
- Swollen stomach
- Dehydration as listed above
- Severe rash or jaundice
This list isn’t exhaustive. If you notice any changes in your baby’s behavior or if you’re concerned, trust your gut and talk to your doctor.
In a nutshell, while teething can coincide with your little one displaying symptoms of diarrhea, it isn’t the cause. Diarrhea can range from mild to severe, and one of the main concerns with this condition is dehydration.
Don’t pass it off as “teething diarrhea.” Look out for the symptoms listed above and take care of yourself and your baby.
More on baby teething:
When Do Babies Start Teething?
What is a Baby Teeth Chart and How Does it Work?
How Long Does Teething Last?
12 Easy Baby Teething Remedies
Can Teething Cause Vomiting?
How To Soothe A Teething Baby At Night