15 Teething Remedies: How to Alleviate Pain and Keep Your Baby Happy
Teething is hard on babies and their parents. These remedies will help soothe and comfort teething pain so everyone can rest easy.
Teething is rough. Just ask the sleep-deprived parents of a fussy, teething baby. Thank goodness for teething remedies! "Teething can happen in babies as early as 3 months and can go on for up to 3 years old," says pediatric dentist Dr. Jill Lasky of Tarzana, California. That's a long time to be coping with teething. Rule of thumb: Teeth erupt according to family history, she says. So if either parent was an early or late teether, your child will usually follow that pattern. The range for the first tooth to erupt is 3 to 14 months. Some children are even born with baby teeth.
While there are plenty of things to try to reduce teething discomfort, one thing to avoid, according to Dr. Lasky, are teething biscuits. "They can be full of sugar and cause a choking hazard," she notes. "And don't buy into the old wives tale of rubbing whiskey on a child's gum." It's not safe. You should also avoid teething gels and medicines that contain numbing agents, as studies have found them to be unsafe for children.
Here are 15 teething remedies that might bring some relief to your uncomfortable baby:
- Gum Massage
All children are different, but one of the most soothing teething remedies for babies is to have their gums rubbed gently with your clean finger, says pediatric dentist Dr. Grace Yum, owner of Yummy Dental and Orthodontics in Chicago and Glenview, Illinois. The pressure on the gums helps dull the pain, and the parental interaction helps soothe the child.
- Cold Spoon
Put a spoon in the fridge for a few minutes or until cold. Use the back of the spoon to apply pressure to the gums to dull the aching. Also, playing with the spoon may take the child's mind off teething.
- Frozen Washcloth
Put a wet washcloth in the freezer. Once frozen, take it out and let the child gnaw on it. The biting helps alleviate the pain, and the cold dulls it away. Keep a few of them on hand at all times.
- Plastic Teething Rings
Plastic teething rings have long been used to help with teething pain. Babies love to hold them, but make sure they are Bisphenol A (BPA)-free. You can put them in your fridge (not the freezer) to chill them.
- Wooden Teething Rings
Wooden teething rings are another option. They're sturdy and easy to wash. The act of gumming the wood helps the child relieve pressure on the gums.
- Over-the-Counter Pain Medication
If your child is in extreme discomfort, acetaminophen or Ibuprofen might help, but always consult with your child's doctor before use.
- Chilled Applesauce
If your baby is eating solids, try chilled fruits for some cool relief.
- Teething Tablets
Some parents swear by homeopathic teething tablets. Active ingredients supposedly reduce gum redness, swelling and tenderness. Check with your child's doctor before using these.
Breastfeeding has been shown to reduce teething pain, and breast milk is known for its healing properties.
- Bottle Feeding
The act of sucking relieves pain, as will some cool milk or formula.
Try a Popsicle made from fruit juice. Hold the Popsicle for your baby and supervise as it melts so it doesn't fall apart and pose a choking hazard.
- Cold Fruit in a Mesh Holder
Place refrigerated pieces of fruit, such as bananas, strawberries or watermelon, into a mesh food holder so babies can smash the fruit up with their gums. The mesh holder ensures that they will not choke on the fruit so you can have peace of mind. Warning: This gets messy!
- Rubber Teethers
Rubber teethers, such as Sophie the Giraffe, double as toys. Keep one stored in a plastic bag in your car or diaper bag.
- Sippy Cup
Fill your child's favorite sippy cup with cool water and a few ice cubes added in. Your baby will love waving the sippy cup around and hearing the rattling of the cubes.
- Vibrating Teether
Did you know some teethers vibrate? Aside from being entertaining, the gum stimulation from the vibration can numb the irritated gums and relieve discomfort.
When all else fails, use distraction. Draw your child's attention to something else, such as bathtime or a story book or a song.
Want more tips? Try these 8 Natrual Teething Remedies for Babies.
Christina Montoya Fiedler is a Los Angeles-based parenting writer and a mother of two boys -- one getting his first teeth and the other who is losing some of his. Read more of her work at Red Tricycle. Or follow her on Twitter.