Teething is a fascinating time in a baby's life and a stressful one for all involved. Most babies will get all 20 of their baby teeth through teething during their first few years of life. As the teeth come in, many babies are fussy or irritable, thanks to the discomfort they feel. That can leave parents feeling stressed out or unsure what to do to help their little ones.
Several natural teething remedies are out there to help make babies more comfortable and to soothe any irritation in their gums. Some of these remedies are better than others. Learn more about each, including which ones are worth trying and which ones are better left alone.
Natural Teething Remedies for Babies: Safe or Not?
1. Cold Washcloths or Teething Rings
As KidsHealth notes, when babies are teething, they often want to chew on things. Natural teething remedies give a baby something that's safe to chew on, such as a rubber teething ring or a damp washcloth. What matters is that the object you give your baby is safe to put in his or her mouth and that the object is impossible to swallow. Avoid giving your baby items that crumble or break easily.
Chilling the washcloth or teething ring before you give it to baby can help soothe his or her irritated gums. Just make sure you don't freeze the item. As the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) points out, items that are too cold may hurt your baby's mouth and make his or her discomfort worse.
2. Homeopathic Teething Remedies
Some teething remedies claim to be homeopathic, meaning they contain small amounts of certain, usually harmful ingredients. Homeopathic teething tablets, which dissolve in water or under a baby's tongue, supposedly ease discomfort and help teething babies sleep better.
But, giving your baby teething tablets or other homeopathic teething remedies isn't the best idea. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly issued warnings about the use of homeopathic remedies for teething. The most recent warning came after laboratory tests found belladonna, a poison, in some tablets, as the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes. The amount of belladonna in the tablets was often much higher than the amount printed on the label.
Although homeopathic teething remedies can seem like a natural, safe way to help your baby, the risk for harm is too great and you're better off leaving the tablets on the shelf.
3. Teething Necklaces
Another natural teething remedy that's gained popularity in recent years is the amber teething necklace. The belief is that the amber used in the necklaces produces a substance that helps relieve any discomfort a baby is feeling while he or she chews on the beads.
But, the AAP explains that there's no scientific evidence to back up the claim that amber helps relieve pain. Perhaps more concerning for parents is that the necklaces present a choking hazard to babies. The AAP advises against having babies younger than 4 wear jewelry, due to the high risk for choking or suffocation.
4. Gum Massage
Perhaps the easiest and most natural way to soothe a teething baby is to gently massage his or her gums with a finger. You can either use your bare, clean hands to massage the gums or wrap a finger in damp gauze. The pressure from your finger on the gums can help reduce any pain.
Don't forget to take good care of your baby's teeth as they come in! Getting in the habit of regularly brushing your baby's teeth and gums from an early age will help him or her establish a great oral care routine when they get older. As your child's teeth come in, your family dentist can provide you with more tips and guidance to help your child have a healthy smile.