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Safe Baby Teething Remedies
Not sure how to ease your baby’s teething pain after the recall of Hyland’s Teething Tablets, and FDA warnings about benzocaine in Anbesol Baby and Baby Orajel? Try one of these safe ways to soothe teething (most are med-free!)
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All you need is a clean finger for this old-fashioned teething remedy. Gentle counter-pressure from Mom or Dad applied to a baby’s sore gums can help ease the pain of teething.
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A spoon chilled in the fridge (not the freezer, or it can stick!) can offer much-needed relief. Just apply the rounded part of the spoon to baby’s gums. Best for before any teeth actually break through to avoid the risk of chipping a tooth.
Frozen or merely chilled, a cold wet washcloth (dipped in water, breast milk, or—as some mom’s swear by—chamomile tea) can be comforting for baby to gnaw on.
If your baby has already started solids, try offering him a cold food like applesauce or yogurt to help soothe gum pain and fill him up.
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Every baby teethes in her own way. While sucking may aggravate teething pain for some babies (sometimes leading to a nursing strike), others may want to nurse more often for the sheer comfort of it. Is your baby using mama’s nipples as a teething toy? Teething does not need to mean the end of breastfeeding; if your baby seems tempted to bite during nursing, try rubbing a clean finger over her gums before beginning and ending the session once she seems full, but not yet bored.
Plush Teething Toy
A soft plush toy from an organic brand like Under the Nile is a safe option for baby to chew on when teething is a pain. We love their fruits and veggies line, like these striped bananas, as well as their plush ring toys and “blanket friend” toys because they’re both super soft and machine washable.
OTC Pain Reliever
Be sure to ask your pediatrician first (especially for early teethers, as doctor’s approval should be given for acetaminophen in babies less than 3 months of age and ibuprofen in babies less than 6 months of age), but some parents find that a dose of infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen can work wonders, especially during a tough middle-of-the-night screaming episodes. Make sure to read the product labeling fully, especially in light of changes to the formulation of OTC versions of acetaminophen for infants.
Teething Jewelry for Moms
Moms of teething babes know that their little ones will grab just about anything within reach and start chomping. Fortunately, specially designed teething jewelry like Teething Bling from Smart Mom Jewelry is made to be gummed by little mouths. Made from FDA-approved silicone that is free of phthalates, BPA, PVC, latex and lead, it’s non-toxic and dishwasher-safe—and made from the same material as many teething toys, but way prettier hanging around your neck or wrist. Available in a rainbow of colors.
Lapis Lazuli Donut Shaped Pendant from smartmomjewelry.com, $19.10
Baby Orajel Naturals
Free of benzocaine, alcohol and dyes, Baby Orajel Naturals is an alternative to the regular version of Baby Orajel, which does contains benzocaine, an ingredient the FDA has recently issued a warning about because of its association with a rare but serious condition called metheminoglobinemia. The active ingredient in Baby Orajel Naturals is eugenol, which is derived from the oil of the clove plant, which is known for its antiseptic, analgesic, antibacterial and local anesthetic properties. (You may have read suggestions for rubbing diluted clove oil on baby’s gums for teething; this takes the guesswork out of the potency for mamas in desperate need of a remedy while baby is shrieking in pain.) Available at major retailers and pharmacies.
A widely available alternative to teething products containing benzocaine is Camilia, a homeopathic medicine from French company Boiron. Camilia containes homeopathic preparations of German chamomile (for relief of teething pain and irritability), Poke (to soothe painful gums) and Chinese rhubarb (for help with minor digestive disorders, like diarrhea, sometimes associated with teething). Comes in 5 or 20 dose single-use dose packages. Reminder: be sure to check with your pediatrician before administering any OTC teething remedy.
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Babies like to gnaw on all kinds of things, especially things that really don’t belong in their mouths. Next time baby reaches for the remote as a snack, hand her a sweet wooden teether, like one from HABA, Camden Rose or this sweet owl teether from Etsy shop Little Alouette. They’re handmade in Ohio from locally sourced hardwoods and are available either unfinished or finished with certified organic flaxseed oil.
Sophie the Giraffe has been helping babies get through teething for more than 50 years. Made of 100% natural rubber (BPA- and phthalate-free) and food paint, this squeaky toy made in the French Alps will likely prove to be one of your babe’s faves. We’re also fans of this Hevea panda teether, made from 100% natural rubber latex (free of BPA, PVC, pthalates and artificial colors; $13.50).
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Sometimes a change of scenery or activity is all it takes to help distract baby from teething pain, at least temporarily. Try running a bath for baby—the warm water may help him to relax—or even just some giving some unexpected cuddle time.
Another popular option for teething tots is silicone teethers, like those from Born Free or this one from Lifefactory (shown). Dishwasher safe, this teether is BPA-, phthalate-, PVC- and latex-free. It can be stuck in the fridge or freezer, and best of all, worn by mama as a funky little bracelet, so relief is always close at hand. Available in a rainbow of bright colors.
This teether from Sassy is not only multi-textured and water-filled (ideal for chilling in the fridge), but it vibrates when baby chomps on the water-filled section, which helps stimulate gums.
Sassy Vibrating Textures Teether from diapers.com, $5.99
Hyland’s Teething Gel
Although Hyland’s teething tablets were recently recalled by the FDA, its teething gel is still on store shelves. Hyland’s Teething Gel is a homeopathic teething remedy that contains very small amounts of its active ingredients: Calcarea Phosphorica (a mineral that supports teething), Chamomilla (a botanical that relieves irritability), Coffea Cruda (a botanical that relieves the symptoms of wakefulness and diuresis) and Belladonna (a botanical that relieves gum inflammation and redness). Although the Belladonna plant can be toxic when ingested in large doses, homeopathic Belladonna is safe and non-toxic, due to the miniscule concentration in the gel. Available at major retailers, pharmacies and health food stores nationwide.
- Jon Whittle
If baby is old enough (around 6 months), try offering a slow flow sippy cup of cool water to suck on for comfort.