Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Does My Baby's Rosy Cheeks Mean He's Teething?

Sarah W: My son is 6 months old and I suspect starting to teethe. Are periodic bright red cheeks (with no fever) an indicator? Also, he does not put any toys in his mouth, just chews/gums on his hand. I offer him teething rings, rusks, even frozen waffles but he won't put them in his mouth. That surprised me, I thought all babies put anything you handed to them in their mouths! Will he start doing this eventually? Or do some babies just prefer hands/fingers/wrists and not ever chew on toys?

We have addressed teething in previous postings and some of the behaviors you describe most certainly describe this stage of development. In fact, we develop products here at Sassy Baby Toys for teething, but not all children act the same way in terms of comfort. You describe hand grawing—which may lead to rashes and discomfort. Consider behavioral modifications such as removing the hand from mouth and giving a teether that is cold with some texture.

 You mention the red cheeks, and this is something I wanted to explore further. Children can have slightly red cheeks related to anything—teething, fever, crying because they are hungry or getting flushed from the tickles. But red cheeks may also represent fifth disease—a medical condition that is also known as parvovirus B19 infection, erythema infectious, or "slapped cheeks disease.” This is a common childhood condition that is actually a relatively mild illness. Although babies don't often get fifth disease, it is something to think about with the bright red cheeks and I would suggest calling your pediatrician especially if there is a slight fever or other signs of discomfort.Again, read our old post for some more general teething advice—here’s it in a nice summary!

Timing: Baby teeth traditionally start coming in between six months to one year of age—give or take a few months on either end.

Order: A baby’s first tooth usually erupts in the bottom center; then the rest follow and usually come in pairs (two lower, two upper). Most babies have a full set of pearly whites by the age of two and a half.

Ouchie: As new teeth erupt, there is minor inflammation of the gum tissue causing pain and even a low-grade fever (less than 101°F). You can help alleviate this discomfort by letting your baby gnaw on something cold and/or textured. Your baby may chew (gnaw is more like it!) on objects, too, such as a pacifier, mom’s nipples while nursing (yes, ouch, personal experience!), or even the side of the crib rail if your baby pulls up to stand! If the pain is making your baby wake up at night, an appropriate dose of acetaminophen may do the trick.

Your baby may have increased drooling during periods of teething, and the drool can irritate the skin. Use some gentle, soothing cream intended for babies’ skin during this time to serve as a drool barrier.

Hachoo: Poor Mr. Teething. He gets blamed for everything. Baby’s cranky—must be Mr. Teething. Baby isn’t sleeping well, has diarrhea, has reflux, has a rash … must be Mr. Teething again! Although teething may indeed cause low-grade temperature and discomfort, make sure to run any new or unusual symptom by your pediatrician!

You’ll All Get Through It: Like all stages in the magical world of babies, the good news is… smile with those pearly whites—we’ve all gotten through it!

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