Can Teething Cause Diarrhea?

Article at a Glance:

  • Parents continue to be misinformed about the symptoms associated with baby teething
  • Diarrhea, fever, and vomiting are among the common symptoms NOT associated with teething
  • Always monitor your child to be sure that there isn’t an underlying issue

Teething pain and fussiness are already bad enough as it is. And on top of that, your baby is also suffering from diarrhea. You and your baby must be downright miserable!

The teething journey definitely comes at a price, however, your child’s health shouldn’t. Most parents are cemented to their beliefs concerning  baby teething symptoms, but it is time to break that cycle of deception.

So, are the two connected – Does teething cause diarrhea?

Can Diarrhea Be A Direct Symptom Of Teething?

While many parents believe that diarrhea is a symptom of teething, it is not.

If your infant has diarrhea while teething,  there could be a good explanation for this. When your baby is teething, they’re probably looking for anything – and everything – to chew on to comfort their sore gums. Unfortunately, this means picking up and mouthing objects not intended for teething and ingesting bacteria. This onslaught of germs may cause diarrhea symptoms.

There are many other illnesses that parents tend to associate with teething including ear infections, fever during teething, urinary tract infections, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal conditions.

The truth is, none of these are typical teething symptoms and could be a sign of a more severe illness that parents should not overlook.

Teething and Diarrhea: Little to No Correlation

It is our duty as parents to educate ourselves and stay informed. Assuming that teething has existed as long as man, this does not mean our own predictions are just as promising.

There are common symptoms that a teething baby would experience during the process. In 2016, a meta-analysis was conducted to determine the common symptoms a teething baby would endure [1]. A meta-analysis examines all relevant studies pertaining to a specific topic and finds commonalities to report on.

Based on this study’s findings, diarrhea and vomiting were least prevalent amongst teething children. It was recommended that parents closely observe their children’s behaviors to rule out any illness that may arise.

There are several non-reputable sources stating that the swallowing of excessive saliva during teething can also lead to diarrhea. I had to further investigate.

A Study conducted in 2003 closely examined the connection between cytokine levels in saliva and systemic disturbances, or symptoms [2]. Cytokines (Sigh-toe-kines) are proteins within the body that activate inflammation. Inflammation is not always bad, rather it triggers the immune system to work and heal as it should.

In the mentioned study, saliva from 16 teething children was collected during and a month after primary tooth eruption.

During tooth eruption, elevation of specific cytokines correlated with gastrointestinal disturbances, or diarrhea. However, a month after tooth eruption, there were no indications of cytokines present. With a weak correlation, diarrhea as a teething symptom was inconclusive.

Teethers and Diarrhea: A Potential Case

It is understandable that baby teething can be a stressful experience. With a fussy and uncomfortable child, parents may try to do anything they can to relieve their child’s discomfort.

This can result in purchasing any kind of teething product on the market, without looking into the types of materials used to create these teething products.

As information advances and becomes available to the general public, most medical professionals advise against teething products that are hollow or filled with liquid.

A famous case in the baby teething world is of the “Sophie the giraffe” teething toy. A parent noticed an odd smell coming from the teether and upon cutting it open, discovered black mold aligning the inside of the teething toy. Saliva and bacteria entered through small openings in the toy and began to accumulate and grow inside of the toy.

Teethers that are liquid filled are also another potential hazard for teething babies. With the possibility of a liquid-filled teether being punctured or leaking, swallowing this liquid could lead to gastrointestinal disturbances becoming the culprit of teething diarrhea.

These are concerns that should never be overlooked. With a weak immune system, babies are susceptible to issues like fevers, diarrhea, and vomiting that stem from ingesting bacteria or chemicals that pose a risk to their overall health.

Know Your Teething Products

Before 1998, companies that produced liquid-filled teething products were using a chemical called, disononyl phthalate, which is used as a softening agent. This chemical is known to be a carcinogen and was commonly used in baby rattles and teething toys.

Due to the slow leaching of chemicals from these products, babies were ingesting this chemical unknowingly. Although there have not been any cases related to cancer in babies, manufacturers have reduced the usage of this chemical in products.

Low-quality teethers are typically made with these softening agents or phthalates. These chemicals are known to disrupt hormone function. There is also concern that phthalates pose a threat to sexual development in growing infants [3].

Know Your Sources

It is almost second nature in this digital day and age to reach for the nearest electronic device when trying to find something online. Do you have a cold? No problem, WebMD will always remind you that it is probably worse than you think.

However, it is important to recognize the truth from the imposters. Just as it is important to know the products that you buy for your child, it is also important to know your sources.

Biased information comes into play, especially in the food and ag industry, where science is tailored to fit desired outcomes. This is not science.

There was a study in 2015 that investigated different parenting websites with information pertaining to baby teething and teething remedies [4]. The purpose of this study was to examine the quality of information websites were recommending for their teething children.

The study found that most websites recommended using over the counter medications to relieve baby teething symptoms, despite the lack of effectiveness.

Warnings were also neglected with their recommendations, in which the FDA has ruled out several ingredients that may have adverse effects on a child’s health.

 Never settle for less. Your child’s health always deserves more.

How To Care For Babies With Diarrhea During Teething

The best thing you can do is be vigilant about what your baby puts in their mouth at all times. Although teething toys are meant for relief from infant teething symptoms, there is a chance that some toys can expose babies to bacteria causing illness, including diarrhea.  

A good practice to keep in mind is hygiene. Always make sure to disinfect your child’s teething toys with hot water and mild soap. Just by cleaning your child’s teething toys, this practice will reduce the risk of your child’s exposure to bacteria and non-teething symptoms like diarrhea.

Most parents overlook diarrhea, vomiting, and fever and attribute these with teething. If these are symptoms your child continues to experience, make sure to set up an appointment with a pediatric doctor to make sure there are no underlying issues present.

Additional Measures You Can Take to Manage Diarrhea Include:

  • Make sure they’re getting plenty of fluids. Regardless of the cause, babies with diarrhea are at risk for dehydration.
  • Adjust their diet – choose water and breastfeeding over juice and avoid foods that encourage bowel movements like prunes and pears. Rice cereal and bananas can help with more solid and regular bowel movements.
  • Regularly sanitize toys and offer plenty of clean, safe teething toys during active teething periods. This can include Kute Keiki’s hypoallergenic and bacteria-resistant silicone teething toys. Easy to clean and freezer friendly.

If symptoms do not get better within 3 days, see your doctor.

So Is Teething Causing Diarrhea In My Baby?

There are many misconceptions of symptoms associated with teething, as the case is with teething and diarrhea, but most often babies show signs of irritability, touching their face/ears, and drooling.

These symptoms can naturally lead to other behaviors such as disruptive sleep, a disinterest in solid food, teething rash, and the urge to bite and chew to get the soothing relief that counter pressure on the gums.

If your teething infant does have diarrhea, fever, or vomiting, it could be a more serious illness.

Monitor them closely and treat the symptoms separately – do not assume these symptoms are related to teething.