When my first child started teething when she was three months old, I had no idea what was happening. She woke up fussy and with a low-grade fever so I thought she had a cold. Then the drool came and she started chewing on her bottle nipple more than drinking from it. I looked in her mouth and found swollen bottom gums with her first tooth trying to break the surface. Ouch. I fumbled my way through helping her and used what I learned to deal with my twins when they started cutting teeth. Double ouch. Teething makes babies miserable, which makes the people taking care of said babies miserable too. I tried to be sympathetic to my kids’ pain and discomfort, but it took effort to be patient when my kids went through this rite of passage. It also took some tips and tricks to soothe my babies’ pain and relieve some desperation too.
Whether they’re yours or your baby’s, let them gnaw on fingers—just make sure hands are clean. And if you are up for it, run your finger under cold water and offer them a chilly digit as their chew toy.
2. Sophie The Giraffe
When I found out how much this toy costs, I was thankful it was given to my ex and I as a gift. Who would pay $30 for a rubber toy?? Parents with teething children, that’s who. Sophie was an easy-to-hold and well-chewed toy in our house; my kids gnawed on her antlers and legs with abandon. If you’re into llamas or cheaper prices, the Lil’ Llama Teething Toy seems to be a great alternative.
3. Frozen Food
Parents have told me that they gave their kids frozen waffles or pretzels to chew on while they were teething. You’ll want to keep a very close eye on your kiddo while they’re gnawing on their edible teethers, though. As the food thaws and gets soft there is a chance a piece will break off into your child’s mouth and could become a choking risk.
4. Teething Biscuits
My children’s pediatrician recommended teething biscuits and crackers for my babies when they were older (over six months) because they are designed to dissolve as the baby chews on them. The pressure of chewing feels good and the kid gets the benefit of it tasting good too. There is always a risk for choking when we give our kids food, but the crackers and cookies became wet, mushy, and easy to swallow pretty quickly.
5. Mesh or Silicone Feeder and Teethers
I would plop my kids in a highchair and give them frozen chunks of mango or strawberry in what looked like mesh Ring Pops for babies. The ones I had were fresh food feeders and messy AF, but my kids loved them. The sweet, cold treat was a nice distraction and felt good on their gums. The mesh meant that only the juice or very small particles got into their mouths—and all over their chests. A slightly less messy option is a silicone feeder from Haakaa. One end looks like a pacifier with holes where you place food and the other end is designed to be a teether and can be chewed on as well.
6. Frozen Washcloth
Take a clean washcloth—free of loose strings—and soak it in water and put it in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. One mom told me that she would soak one in breast milk and then freeze it before offering it to her daughters when they were teething.
7. Anti-Drop Wrist Teether
I do not remember these as an option when my kids were little; not having to pick up a slippery teether, rinse it, and then give it back to my kid to repeat the process minutes later would have been lovely. There are multiple types of silicone teethers that easily slip on and off your baby’s wrist and allow them to hold on better while they chew on textured nubs. These wearable teethers from Towwi remind me of brass knuckles, but if they work, who cares?
8. Massage Their Gums
Applying pressure and massaging your baby’s gums with your clean fingers is not something you can do all day, but it may be a short-term solution until you can cool a washcloth or find a teething ring.
While chewing on the bib may offer your baby some relief, use the bib to keep your child’s mouth and chin dry. My oldest soaked the front of her onesies when she wasn’t wearing a bib so it also kept her neck and chest dry. Bibs help to reduce irritation from wet and chapped skin. Investing in some water-based lotions can help keep Baby’s skin happy too.
When distraction or chew things don’t work, over-the-counter medicine may be your best bet—especially when it comes to finding something that will help your child sleep. Children’s Tylenol was always a go-to in our house. Some folks have luck with homeopathic options like Hyland’s Teething Tablets. The FDA recalled this product several years ago for having potentially toxic amounts of belladonna in them. However, new versions of this product no longer have belladonna or benzocaine and could be a good alternative to Tylenol.
Some parents swear by gels that can be massaged into baby’s gums, but if you have a drooler like I did then be aware that the gel may be washed away as soon as it goes on. Consult your pediatrician to figure out what’s best for your child before trying something new.
It might take trial and error to find what helps your fussy teether, but it also may just take time. No matter what remedies you try, there’s no way around it: teething bites.
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