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Who doesn’t love a joyful, toothless smile from a happy baby?
Those empty gums won’t be undeveloped real estate for long. When your drooling, cranky baby lets you know the teeth are coming, everyone is going to want to make baby feel better.
If you’re looking for safe ways to soothe your baby’s sore mouth, read on for natural ways to get the smile back. Dentists don’t necessarily recommend all of these methods, and some researchers say they don’t really work, but parents who’ve been there have plenty of advice that might just bring your baby some sweet relief.
Ice, Ice Baby
Cold is a very popular, and simple, remedy for teething pain. You can freeze a number of safe items for your baby to gum and gnaw. Just remember that anything you give your baby to chew on must not be a choking hazard and it’s best to give your baby something only when you can keep an eye on what’s happening.
A frozen washcloth is a favorite for many parents. Wet one of the millions of soft baby washcloths you probably got as a shower gift and put it in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes. When it’s cold and stiff, touch it to your baby’s gums, or even let your baby hold it while chewing on it. The washcloth should be too big to be swallowed and it will stay cold for several minutes.
Several bloggers recommend frozen bagels, fruit pops, or a hard vegetable like a carrot. Again, these are items you should monitor while using because of the choking hazard. For extra safety, try a mesh teether like the Munchkin fresh food feeder. It works like a popsicle, but keeps the bigger pieces of food from getting into your baby’s mouth.
“What many parents think of as teething is just a baby’s increased drooling and constant desire to suck and bite that occurs as a normal developmental stage starting around 3 to 4 months. While teeth can erupt this early, the most common age is 6 to 9 months. Pain from teething likely only comes when the teeth are breaking through the gums and can be seen or felt.” Karen Gill, San Francisco pediatrician
Teething rings like the green sprouts fruit cool soothing teether can go in the fridge and chill out baby’s pain. There are lots of options out there so make sure the one you choose is only filled with water, just in case a seam gives way or a hole develops. Pediatricians recommend against freezing these completely since it will make them very hard for baby’s mouth.
A clean adult finger, placed gently on a baby’s gum or doing massage, can be enough to ease the pain. If a drool-soaked hand isn’t your cup of tea, a wooden spoon or wooden teething rings also offer natural pressure against the tooth that’s trying to break through.
If you’re on the go, want to look put-together, and also want something baby can safely grab and chew, try Chewbeads and similar jewelry. The soft, nontoxic pieces let moms accessorize without worrying about beaded necklaces that might fall apart and become a choking hazard under the pressure of a baby’s pain relief.
It’s All About You, Mom
If you are breast-feeding, nursing is often a reliable way to give your baby some comfort, and teething time is no exception.
The sucking is what matters for some babies, but don’t feel like you have to keep nursing if it’s not working. Move on to other options if pain is still a problem. Also, for some babies, Mom’s breast can be tempting to bite on. Several bloggers recommend rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger if biting becomes a problem.
Tea for Teeth
Several natural parenting sites recommend chamomile tea to help with teething and it’s an ingredient in some natural teething products. Chamomile has been used as an herbal remedy for thousands of years in a number of cultures. Make sure that any tea you give to your baby is caffeine-free. You should also never give tea made from plants from a garden, due to the risk of botulism.
You can freeze chamomile tea into the mesh teethers mentioned above, offer a few cool sips on a spoon, or rub a chamomile tea-dipped finger on your baby’s gums.
Amber, with Caution
Baltic amber jewelry, worn as a necklace, bracelet, or anklet, is an old teething remedy and even researchers acknowledge its popularity.
Parents who like it say Baltic amber contains succinic acid which, when the amber is warmed against the body, is released into the skin and helps relieve teething pain. According to several news accounts, there is no evidence that Baltic amber jewelry actually works to relieve pain.
More significantly, several major health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, say that the risk of choking on one of the beads is too great to ignore, and recommend against the use of the jewelry.
Remember that any teething remedy you choose should be safe and nontoxic. Ask your pediatrician or dentist if you have any concerns, or want to try something you find on the Internet or learn about from other parents. There are dozens of “natural” recommendations that have been around for generations but not all of them are a good idea.
Symptoms to Watch
Finally, researchers say teething does not cause diarrhea, loss of appetite, or any of the other more severe symptoms some people observe. They say those symptoms are likely related to other things and should be treated separately. Doctors say that in most cases, discomfort, pain, and a slight fever are the only real hazards from teething. If you spot other symptoms, talk to your healthcare professional.