Teething is a necessary, albeit painful, rite of passage for your baby. Sprouting her new teeth is hard work, and can leave her irritable, feverish and with difficulty sleeping as those teeth cut through her delicate little gums and break the surface.
Because so many parents today are hesitant to use any over-the-counter medications unless they’re absolutely necessary, there’s quite an interest in more natural, chemical-free ways of soothing the screams and the pain that accompany teething.
While each baby is different and will respond to each solution with varying degrees of relief, here are some of the ways that you might be able to cut the pain of cutting teeth without reaching for medication.
SEE ALSO: Understanding Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
- Keep Gums Cool – One of the most cost-effective methods of drug-free relief of teething symptoms is wring a wet washcloth out very well, leaving it only damp, then place it in the freezer. Letting Baby chew on the frozen (or very chilled) cloth not only helps to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation; it also satisfies their innate need to chew, in order to speed the process of the teeth surfacing. The softness of the washcloth versus the sometimes rigid and uncomfortable plastic of a frozen teething aid might be just what your little one needs; remember, all babies are different and will like and dislike different things. Be careful that you supervise her at all times to prevent any chance of choking, and let her gnaw to her heart’s content.
- Choose Teething Rings Carefully – Older teething rings may freeze into very hard and uncomfortable rings, contain the potentially dangerous chemical Bisphenol A, also known as BPA and may not be compliant with all modern safety standards. Teething rings that are hand-me-downs might save money, but they could present a hazard. The problem of freezing teething rings to boost Baby’s level of relief has been addressed in recent years, with newer offerings hitting the market every day that are designed to be placed in the freezer without losing their pliability.
- Rub Her Gums – The first-ever teething aid was Mom’s finger, and things haven’t changed so much that they can’t be used in a pinch to massage a teething baby’s sensitive, inflamed gums. Be sure to wash your hands, however; using gel hand sanitizers can expose your baby to chemicals, dyes and fragrances that should never been ingested. Good, old-fashioned soap and water is best.
- Soothing and Comforting – Sometimes a baby that’s irritable and uncomfortable from the effects of teething just needs to be held, cuddled and soothed to sleep. During particularly rough bouts of teething, it may be necessary to spend more time than usual loving on your little one to get her calmed and feeling secure enough to sleep despite her discomfort.
- Clove Oil – Many all-natural moms rave about the soothing power of clove oil for teething gums, but it’s important to remember that, in its pure form, clove oil is very strong and can increase Baby’s discomfort. Dilute the oil with food-grade carrier oil and test it out yourself before applying it to her gums via massage, and keep in mind that her gums are far more sensitive than your own. If the mixture feels uncomfortable, is accompanied by a very strong taste or is otherwise unpleasant for you, it’s a safe bet that the same will hold true for your baby a few times over. It’s always a good idea to speak with your child’s healthcare provider before using homeopathic remedies.
- Teething Biscuits – Traditional teething biscuits tend to be laden with sugars and preservatives that you probably don’t want your little one ingesting, but there are a wide variety of low sugar or sugar-free, organic offerings on the market as well.
- Cold Spoons – The American Dental Association recommends that teething babies be given a chilled spoon to suck on, to ease their discomfort without presenting a serious choking risk. It’s still important, however, that you supervise her at all times as she gnaws away on the flatware.
Benzocaine and other numbing agents sold over-the-counter and marketed as teething relief ointments do numb your baby’s gums and reduce her pain, but they can also numb the rest of her mouth and her throat. That numbness can greatly increase her chances of gagging or choking, another reason why these remedies should be avoided whenever possible. Also, the drooling that often accompanies teething can cause your baby’s skin to become irritated, so be sure to keep her face, neck and torso as clean, dry and saliva-free as possible to prevent a rash that increases her discomfort even further.