Teething is one of the hardest issues with our new bundles of joy, right up there with sleep and feedings. Aside from the drool and and constant need to put things in their tiny mouths, we aren’t always aware of the pain or discomfort associated with those soon-to-sprout teeth. And when it comes to treatment methods for teething, there is a LONG list of advice. Some ideas better than others based on personal preference and professional opinion.
I think most of us have heard of a remedy or two from our parents or grandparents. “Back in my day…”, the start to advice that most likely isn’t relevant or shouldn’t be used today for safety or moral reasons. I’ve listened to the elders in my family refer to the “Sugar Tit” method, which was a cloth soaked in whiskey and dipped in sugar for those sore gums. YIKES! Not sure I like the idea of alcohol or sugar for my little one. Other old tricks, however, such as the frozen washcloths are still used today. Nothing to it…just pinch the the center of the cloth and twist the ends. Lightly dampen the centered portion, and place in freezer. I personally like this version of keeping the twisted ends dry prior to freezing so that baby’s hands don’t get so cold during use. I also am particular about the cloth itself. I used the infant washcloths only, as regular household washcloths tend to have more threads and are a little thicker than I’m comfortable with. And being a bit on the neurotic side, I would take an already washed cloth and boil or re-rinse without soap prior to freezing (the thought of my Ladybug ingesting any soap remnants freaked me out).
We eventually evolved to the mesh feeders like this one by Sassy. These things are awesome! If your baby cannot have foods yet, try it with a tiny ice cube or frozen breast milk. Once he/she is ready for foods, there are several of fruits and veggies that work well in the feeder. I started out with cold, peeled apples which my daughter LOVED! We have also tried frozen banana, mango, blueberry, strawberry and peas. Ladybug wasn’t impressed with the peas of course, but did love the bananas. But a heads up on the choice of banana…cleaning banana residue off of the mesh lining is hard! Also, another tip: we attached it to her bib with a paci-clip because she would often drop it on the floor. Worked like a charm.
Another quick fix is a frozen paci or “binky.” Typically if you pinch the nipple portion as it’s submerged in water, it’ll suck up a bit of water inside. So, using filtered water, fill the nipple as much as possible and place it in a sandwich bag or container in the freezer. It’ll freeze pretty fast and being so small, it thaws pretty fast too. That being said, it will only relieve the little one for a few minutes. Just a good, quick grab for a car ride or to take a minute for Mom.
Then of course there are the popular gel rings to freeze or the textured toys for babies tender gums. The Sophie giraffe is a standard too. Almost every baby I know owns a Sophie product. And why not? They are cute, work well and come in varieties sure to please. Although a bit pricey for a teething toy, they are great for baby shower gifts and can often be purchased using discount coupons at big name stores. Ladybug still use her Sophie teethers to this day.
Lots of moms out there are huge advocates for the amber teething necklaces. While I myself have not tried it, I have read various reviews and studies about them. The necklaces (or anklet/bracelets if preferred) are designed to be worn by babies or mommas. The baltic amber releases oils into the skin that are said to relieve the discomfort and pain associated with teething. There is still debate on whether or not these are really safe for baby, but each mom needs to do her own research to determine if this is a good route for baby.
Another hot topic remedy for teething is the popular teething tablets and gels. While these have been used for years, there have been recent studies, cases and lawsuits claiming the ingredients in these products may be harmful to infants. It only takes one case of an overdose to make us all scoff and second guess using these products. And while some may see it as a rare incident, others may heed warning and steer clear of them. I remember learning that the gel I had used a few times on Ladybug was a numbing agent (uh, yeah, that’s the point, right?) and that it could cause numbing to spread to the tongue or throat making it hard for baby to swallow, thus they could choke on their own saliva! That was enough warning for me. Although my baby girl was having a tough time, I just couldn’t bear swapping one problem for a potentially worse problem. And the tablets we switched to posed threats as well, so we ditched those too.
Now, maybe I’m paranoid, and I’m okay with that. I’m all for my kiddo being exposed to germs and we are less than half committed to the organic lifestyle, but when it comes to medications and such, I’m cautious. In fact, I have always tried everything to avoid using pain relievers on Ladybug as well. But when it comes down to it, I’d rather go to the pediatrician-approved pain relievers as my “if all else fails” method. Again, this is purely what works within the comfort levels of my own family and I expect other parents to make the best call for themselves. No judgement here, after all, we have to stand united on the teething front!
I suppose there are and will always be alternatives when it comes to the joys of teething. And most new parents aren’t prepared or enlightened to the options, at least I wasn’t. So, I hope this post serves as a message to new moms to do your research and find your best fit. We too often go with the advice of family or friends as it’s crammed down our throats, or by the books that tell us this is how it should be. I say take it all in (including advice from the pediatrician), and make an informed decision. Keep in mind that distractions such as outings and new books or toys can be helpful for your baby as they start to welcome those pearly whites. Your love, cuddles and kisses don’t hurt either.