If you have a newborn, you're aware of the wail and pain teething causes your little one. The gums around these new teeth will be sore and during this time, babies want to chew on hard objects like teething rings. A baby's first teeth will appear between the ages of four and seven months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. A teething ring is safe for your baby as long as you follow these four safety tips.
1. Don't Freeze Teething Rings
Cool objects can help relieve your baby's sore gums, but the Mayo Clinic says you should never freeze teething rings. Frozen rings are very firm and may bruise your baby's delicate gums. The extreme cold can also lead to frostbite on your baby's lips or gums. To avoid these problems, give your baby a refrigerated teething ring instead of a frozen one. The cool temperature relieves discomfort, but it won't be cold enough to cause harm.
2. Avoid Toxic Chemicals
Some teethers and teething rings contain potentially dangerous chemicals like phthalates, according to Baby Center. Phthalates are added to plastic products to soften them, but they leach out over time and can be ingested. Animal studies show phthalate exposure in utero leads to birth defects, low birth weight and future fertility issues, and ongoing studies are looking into the links between phalates exposure and asthma, obesity, early puberty and other health problems. Due to the potential risk, Europe banned phthalates in baby products, but the United States, except California, permits their use.
To avoid phthalates, read the labels on teething rings. It may list it as phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) or even fragrance. If the label isn't clear, call the manufacturer of the product to confirm.
3. Avoid Liquid-Filled Teething Rings
For your baby's safety, MedlinePlus recommends avoiding teething rings filled with liquid. The force of your baby's chewing can break open the teething ring and allow the liquid to spill out, and this liquid presents a potential choking hazard and may even be contaminated. Some liquid-filled teething rings have been recalled in the past due to bacterial contamination of the liquid, as described by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Instead, give your baby a teething ring made of firm rubber.
4. Avoid Small Pieces
Teething rings with small parts present a choking hazard for babies. Some teething rings are decorated with beads, rattles or other decorations, and while these are entertaining, they're also potentially dangerous. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voluntarily recalled some rings as they presented a choking hazard. If your baby's chewing causes small parts to dislodge, they could become lodged in the throat. For safety, stick to solid, one-piece teething rings with no small parts.
Teething can be an unpleasant time for both you and your baby, but teething rings help soothe sore gums. Make sure to supervise your baby while he or she is using a teething ring to ensure safety. Once your baby's teeth grow in, make sure to brush them every day with a soft brush and infant-safe toothpaste likeMy First® Fluoride-Free Toothpaste. Keeping your baby's teeth clean at home, along with regular visits to a dentist, can set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.