Fort Worth, Texas,
16:29 PM

It's Ok Serena. There's Hope for Your Teething Baby

Doc Smitty offers advice on the causes of your child's 'teething' symptoms

"Teething - aka the devil - is so hard."

I know Serena, babies are hard to read. As I read Serena Williams' tweets and the struggles she's going through with her baby my heart went out to her.

There were times in my own parenting journey where I wasn’t quite sure that everything I had been teaching my patients for years was actually the right thing. So, pediatricians aren’t immune to a little doubt when the going gets tough.

As Serena Williams discovered over the weekend, celebrities aren’t immune to this either. Apparently her 3 month old was having a REALLY fussy day. And, no doubt, those days are hard. You feel helpless. You’re sure that something is terribly wrong. You want to attribute it to something and you want to have something that will fix it. But…it doesn’t always work out that way.

I guess it didn’t get any better from there…

Of course, she got some suggestions.

Many of which have been shown to be useless (and might even be dangerous) such as: teething gels, homeopathic teething tabs and amber necklaces.

But, the best advice she received came from a friend of mine, a pediatrician from down in Austin, Dr. Ari Brown (@baby411):

Because Dr. Brown is right, teething does get blamed for fever, diarrhea, fussiness, vomiting, diaper rash, sleep disturbance, poor eating, extra eating….I could keep going but instead here’s a post about 4 teething myths.

The reality is that babies most cut their first teeth after 6 months of age and they don’t show signs or symptoms of teething for 3-4 months. If they show any signs, it’s the day before and the day that the tooth erupts and even that is up for debate.

So, what could be the cause of your child’s “teething” symptoms? Here are 3 things to consider:

1. Viral illnesses-Because viruses can cause fever, rash, runny nose, diarrhea and a number of other symptoms for which teething is often blamed, they are a common cause of visits to my office for a concern of “teething.” Because viruses are self-limited (they go away on their own), they will resolve in 3-5 days which just further reinforces the idea in parent’s minds that the symptoms were due to teething.

2. Ear infections-It’s possible for children to have ear infections, even at early ages. Because fussiness and disrupted sleep are common symptoms of ear infection, they are often mistaken for teething. Especially if your child has fever and upper respiratory symptoms along with their fussiness, consider ear infection a possible cause.

3. Normal development-This is the least popular of my opinions on teething but I believe it is probably the most accurate. I think it is normal for babies to have periods of fussiness and sleep disruption. Just like we have bad days and just like we have nights where we don’t sleep as well, babies can too.

Because of that, here was my advice:

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