The teething process can be a very painful stage for babies. To help baby (and you cope) here are the key symptoms of teething, plus a number of simple, natural teething remedies and therapies that can soothe your baby’s discomfort.
The moment your baby starts making a fuss or looking slightly pink around the cheeks, everyone assumes teething is the problem and will happily offer advice. Sometimes what worked for a friend or family member’s child is helpful. Sometimes it’s well-meaning but not-so-great advice. Here we’re covering tried and true natural teething remedies and why they work.
What Is Teething?
Simply put, teething is the stage when a baby’s teeth start to come through their gum line. Odontiasis is the medical term for it.
Causes and Symptoms of Teething
Most babies start teething between 4 to 7 months and will continue until around age 3. While teething is a perfectly normal and natural part of your baby’s development, it can be a distressing time for both of you, as many babies find teething painful, or at least a discomfort.
Although it’s not always easy to tell if your baby is teething, the usual symptoms include:
- Drooling – more than usual
- Swollen, tender gums
- Rubbing their cheek or pulling their ear
- Red cheeks or mild fever (less than 101 F)
- Disturbed sleep patterns, including difficulty getting to sleep
- A desire to chew on objects even more than usual
- Irritability or crankiness
- Rashes around the mouth or neck
Are Teething Gels Safe?
Baby teething gels that contain the topical anesthetic benzocaine are not considered safe. These products can cause methemoglobinemia, a rare and sometimes fatal disorder in which the oxygen that’s carried through the blood to the tissues drops to dangerously low levels.
Babies will swallow at least some of anything applied to their gums. And these medications can numb their throats and create a risk of choking. The FDA advises parents not to use benzocaine teething gels on children younger than two years of age.
Natural Teething Remedies
Here are a number of tried-and-tested home remedies for teething babies. See which ones work for you and your baby:
Give your baby frozen foods in a mesh feeder
Offer fruit or veggies (bananas, apples, or carrots) in a mesh feeder. You could also freeze breast milk or diluted chamomile tea in ice-cube trays and then place in the mesh feeder.
Offer your baby a clean finger to gnaw on
This is one of the best and oldest natural teething remedies for easing the discomfort of teething – the pressure of chomping away at your finger helps relieve the pressure of the tooth pushing its way through the gum. It’s also soothing to have a parent close by.
Try the washcloth trick, with a twist
Place a piece of clean cloth in the freezer for a couple of hours, dipped first in either water or chamomile tea (which has the added bonus of helping to soothe and relax baby).
Rub ginger on baby’s gums
A natural anti inflammatory, ginger can help relieve teething pain by soothing the nerve endings in the gums. For the strongest effect, rub a slice of peeled ginger onto baby’s gums for 2-3 minutes.
Try an amber teething necklace
When worn on the skin, amber releases healing oils that help your baby to stay calm and more relaxed throughout the teething period.
Chamomilla is recommended for babies who become irritable and make a fuss when teething, while Pulsatilla is suggested if your baby becomes clingy. (Seek the advice of a trained homeopath before giving a homeopathic remedy to your infant). You can also dilute Rescue Remedy (or other natural flower remedies) in cooled boiled water and rub them gently onto the gums to soothe the pain.
Try facial massage
Massaging is a natural teething remedy that can help relieve teething pain and ease ear and headaches that are often caused by teething.
This video shows you exactly how to perform a baby teething relief massage at home to relax your baby’s jaw, face, and head… addressing the discomfort caused by teething problems.
Breastfeeding moms can help
One the best natural teething remedies is for mom to drink chamomile tea or ingest other natural flower remedies. If mother is breastfeeding, the benefits of these herbs and flower will be passed on to baby and can help to soothe teething pains.
Natural Teething Treatments to Avoid
Research any treatment (over the counter or old wives tale and anything in between) before trying it with your baby. Even some products described as teethers or teething aids aren’t safe choices, including ones:
- Filled with liquid that can tear and spill
- Made of breakable material, like plastic, that can possibly lead to choking
- That are frozen solid — these can be too hard on a baby’s mouth
Another reason to be aware of the material used to make the teethers: Some can be made from harmful substances, like lead. Look for a teething ring made from natural rubber.
Which natural teething remedies have worked for your baby?
Tell us in the comments below or on social media. Baby teething remedies that are natural and generally plastic free are best for growing babies and toddlers.