My pediatrician once told me that teething is so painful that there is no way adults could handle it. And your baby is “teething” long before you see that first tooth — it’s the reason they’re gnawing at anything and everything in sight, the reason they’re drooling so much, and it can very possibly be the reason they’ve suddenly stopped sleeping through the night and are keeping you up in the wee hours of the morning.
So what can you do to ease their pain naturally?
There are homeopathic teething remedies you can buy, such as Hyland’s teething tablets. However, Hyland’s actually suffered a product recall in 2010 because of irregular amounts of belladonna, a substance in its teething tablets that, according to the FDA, can cause extreme lethargy, irritability and constipation. It has since put the teething tablets back on the market, with the belladonna included, but says that babies would have to ingest 1,000 times the recommended dose to even start to see any adverse effects.
There’s also something I’ve heard of called amber necklaces (meant to wear, not to chew), that release a natural analgesic to help calm and relax your baby. I’m not sure if it works (I’d love to hear about it in the comments below if you’ve had experience with it), but something about giving a small baby a necklace to wear just doesn’t sit well with me, especially since one site I saw recommended them for children older than 36 months. Come again?
Turns out, there’s plenty for you to do to help ease your baby’s teething pain at home before turning to any remedies at all — alternative or conventional.
First off, there are lots of baby toys that are meant just for teething. We used to stick our son’s teething ring in the refrigerator, so not only did the ridges on the toy soothe his gums, but the cold helped numb them and lessen the swelling. A few minutes of chewing his beloved teether and he would go from cranky to contented. One of my favorites? Sophie the Giraffe, all natural (meaning no BPA or phthalates) and just right for baby’s sore gums.
Another great, cost-effective solution: Get a clean washcloth, dampen it with some cool water, then let your little one chomp away. Some parents dip the washcloth in chamomile tea instead of water, since chamomile is known to have soothing and calming properties.
Or you can make some small ice cubes (like in those ice cube trays that come in mini fridges) with either water or diluted tea. Then crush and wrap up in a washcloth or clean T-shirt. Not all babies will like things that are so cold though, so experiment and see what appeals to your little one.
Another thing I’ve tried is a whole carrot — washed and peeled, of course. Baby carrots are dangerous because your baby can choke on them, but as long as you’re keeping an eye on things, a whole fresh carrot straight from the fridge can be just what the doctor ordered.
What if nothing seems to work? Sometimes a clean, dry finger is all a baby needs to ease that pain. I once spent an hour sitting in a rocking chair in a dark room letting my baby chew my finger in the middle of the night until he drifted off to sleep. Just be careful once that first tooth finally pokes through — it’ll hurt.