Babies usually begin teething between 3 and 18 months old and continue teething until all 20 "baby" teeth emerge. Typically, the teeth emerge slowly over time, making it seem as if babies are indeed constantly teething. Mild diarrhea sometimes accompanies teething, but contact your child's pediatrician if diarrhea is severe or constant.
Babies and toddlers sometimes get diarrhea during teething, but your child should have no more than four to five stools per day. Watch for other symptoms of teething to coincide with diarrhea, such as drooling, irritability, reduced appetite, low-grade fever or a clear runny nose. Your child might not sleep well and might mouth or chew on toys to relieve aching gums.
In the absence of additional teething symptoms, suspect other causes of diarrhea, such as a bacterial or viral illness, medication or a food allergy. Antibiotics could cause diarrhea, as can excessive fruit juice or sugar.
Usually, no treatment is necessary for the mild diarrhea associated with teething. However, if your child has diarrhea for more than two days and more than five stools per day, take action. Discontinue milk, formula and milk products except for breast milk. Give clear liquids, such as herbal teas, diluted sports drinks or drinks especially made to treat childhood diarrhea, for 12 hours to 48 hours, depending on the severity of the diarrhea, recommends Dr. Jerry Rubin, author of "Naturally Healthy Kids." When you reintroduce food, offer simple ones that are easy to digest, such as bananas, rice cereal, applesauce or dry toast.
Calling the Pediatrician
Contact your child's pediatrician if episodes of diarrhea occur more than once or twice a month. Frequent diarrhea might be a sign of a food allergy rather than teething. Contact the pediatrician if your baby has a fever higher than 101 degrees, or if your baby seems lethargic or dehydrated. Signs of mild dehydration include dark urine or few wet diapers, decreased activity, few tears or a dry mouth, lips and tongue. Young babies can become seriously dehydrated rapidly. Do not wait to contact your doctor if your baby becomes dehydrated.
- "Naturally Healthy Kids"; Dr. Jerry Rubin, MD, et al.; 2006
- AskDr.Sears: Diarrhea