With the hazards surrounding Amber necklaces and FDA warnings about benzocaine in Anbesol Baby and Baby Orajel, it’s hard to know how to best soothe your little one’s teething pain. Try one of these safe — and mostly medication-free! — ways to minimize their discomfort.
#1 — Gum Massage
Gently massaging baby’s inflamed gums with your clean finger may be just what the doctor ordered. If you’re not keen on sticking your finger in baby’s mouth, then you can use a moistened gauze pad. This old-fashioned teething remedy eases discomfort by counteracting the pressure from the tooth below.
#2 – Cold Washcloth
Washcloths do more than wipe away dirt — they can also wipe away teething pain! Or help minimize it, at least. Just freeze or chill a wet washcloth, which can be dampened in water, breast milk or even chamomile tea, and let baby gnaw away.
#3 – Cold Spoon
A spoon chilled in the fridge — not the freezer, or it may stick (same goes for teething rings) — can offer baby much-needed relief. Simply apply the cool, rounded part of the spoon to baby’s gums. Aaahhh. Not recommended once teeth break actually through, in order to avoid the risk of chipping a tooth.
#4 – Chilled Foods
If your baby has started solids, try offering a cold food such as refrigerated applesauce or yogurt (if baby’s ready for yogurt) to temporarily soothe gum pain and fill up baby’s belly.
#5 – Teething Pop
If you’re feeling ambitious, and are able to feed yogurt to your baby, you can even try making a Teething Pop:
- Mix plain yogurt with pureed fruit, such as apples, pears or bananas
- Pour into cupcake wrappers
- Insert plastic baby spoons for handle
- Serve and soothe
#6 – Breastfeeding
All babies experience teething differently, so while sucking may aggravate teething pain for some babies — at times leading to a nursing strike — others may want to nurse more often because it’s comforting. If baby is using mom’s nipples as a teething toy (yeah, ouch), that doesn’t have to mean the end of breastfeeding. When baby seems tempted to bite during nursing, try this: rub a clean finger over baby’s gums before you begin feeding, and be sure to end the session once baby appears full, but not yet bored.
#7 – Sophie the Giraffe (Vulli Sophie la Girafe)
Sure, there are other teething toys, but all the cool kids have Sophie. Phthalates- and BPA-free, Sophie is safe to chew on, plus she stimulates baby’s senses with her squeaker, spots and softness.
#8 – Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever
If your baby is especially cranky, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Children’s Motrin, others) might help. 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); with that being said, some parents find that a dose of infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help tremendously, especially during those rough, middle-of-the-night screaming episodes. Be sure to read the product labeling fully, especially given the changes to the formulation of OTC versions of acetaminophen for infants.
Avoid teething medications that contain the pain reliever benzocaine. Benzocaine products have been associated with methemoglobinemia — a rare but serious condition that reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood.
#9 – Wooden Teether
Babies like to chew on all kinds of things, particularly things that really don’t belong in their mouths. So next time baby tries to snack on the remote, offer a sweet wooden teether, like these handmade owls, elephants, fish and elephants, as a gum-soothing substitute. They’re FDA-approved, 100% food grade Silicone, 100% organic maple wood and 100% cute. They’re also small enough to attach to a pacifier clip. To smooth the teethers and keep them from drying and splintering, add some some coconut oil to them.
Wooden Teethers, Amazon, $11.99
#10 – Chilled Teether
To bolster the soothing powers of a solid or liquid-filled teether, place it in the fridge (NOT the freezer) for 15-20 minutes before offering it to baby. These Bright Starts teethers are colorful and easy for little hands to hold — plus the various shapes offer different textures, depending on baby’s preference.