If you have a little one who is trying to chew on everything in sight—including you!—you may have a teething baby. Teething generally starts at around 3 to 12 months and lasts until about age three, off and on. It can certainly be a challenging time for parents and children alike, but thankfully there are plenty of natural teething remedies you can employ to help ease discomfort.
Signs of Teething
Curious how you can tell if your baby is teething? While symptoms of teething can range, the most common signs of teething in a baby include:
- Swollen tender gums that appear slightly more pink than usual
- Excessive drooling
- Rubbing mouth and face area
- Trying to bite or chew on everything
- Slightly elevated temperature
- More fussy than usual
Additionally, you may be able to see part of the tooth poking up or feel it if you run a clean finger over the gums. Now that you have determined your little one is indeed teething, let’s talk about some natural teething remedies.
How can I soothe my teething baby naturally?
You may have seen a spike in stories about natural teething remedies lately. This is because multiple babies have become seriously ill—and even died—because of a reaction with benzocaine. Benzocaine is an active ingredient found in teething gels and medications like Orajel and can cause serious, fatal damage.
Benzocaine can cause a rare blood condition linked to potentially deadly breathing problems. The pain-relieving ingredient can interfere with an oxygen-carrying protein in the blood. Symptoms include shortness of breath, headache, and rapid heart rate.
For this, and so many other reasons, I always turn to natural remedies when it comes to my daughter’s teething (or anything really!) There are a lot of great ways to naturally soothe a teething baby, but here are the main three methods I have seen success with.
Pressure. There’s a reason babies want to gnaw on everything when a tooth is coming in. The pressure feels good against their little aching gums. Thankfully, there are dozens of ways to add pressure to the baby’s gums. The safest and easiest way to do this is to wash your hands thoroughly and let your baby chew away on your finger. If your baby already has teeth, or if you do not feel comfortable acting as a human chew toy, take a clean finger and run it slowly over baby’s gums instead.
Cold. Anything cold will not only feel great against inflamed gums, but cold can even help the inflammation go down. A simple way to get a cooling effect to their gums is by freezing a slightly wet washcloth and allowing them to chew on it. You can also try a homemade popsicle (see below!) or allowing small sips of ice water.
Calm. Finally, anything you can do to distract and calm your little one is great. This includes breastfeeding or bottle feeding mixed with lots of cuddles. You can also try to sing to them and rock them—if all else fails, distract them with a walk in outside or a fun new toy.
DIY Teething Remedies
Ready for a list of things to try when employing natural remedies for teething? Some of these items are easy DIYs and others can be ordered online and shipped right to your door. Here are the best DIY teething remedies around.
- Create DIY baby-safe popsicles. An actual popsicle could pose a choking hazard thanks to your baby’s abilities to bite or gum large chunks off. The safe way to make a baby-friendly popsicle is to use silicone teething feeders they can gum on. Fill them with frozen fruit chunks and your little one will safely gnaw away.
- Use chamomile. Chamomile is a great natural teething remedy and can be used to help soothe your little one. One easy way to use it is to brew a strong cup of chamomile tea, dip a washcloth in it and freeze the cloth. Your little one will love chewing on the cold cloth while the chamomile works away.
- Brush their teeth. Your little one can get a 2 for 1 benefit by brushing and massaging aching gums. Not only is it smart to encourage good dental hygiene, but these toothbrushes are BPA and phthalates free. Just make sure you get a toothpaste that is fluoride free to go with it!
- Give a massage. Several times a day, take a few minutes to give your child a soothing face massage. Rub their face, jawline and gums in small circular motions with a little pressure to help ease pain.
- Try a Baltic amber teething necklace. Baltic amber is said to be anti-inflammatory and has immune system boosting properties. These natural teething necklaces are meant to be worn by your child while supervised only, as the beads can be considered a choking hazard.
- Try essential oils. Lavender oil is said to be soothing for teething babies and gentle on the skin. Because a baby’s skin is very sensitive, I highly recommend diluting the oil. One to two drops of lavender mixed with a teaspoon of carrier oil is about the right ratio. Massage the oil gently on the outside of the jawline. Do not let baby ingest—this is for topical use only.
- Put on a teething bib. If you have a teething baby, there is probably lots of drool involved. This natural teething solution takes a regular bib to catch the drool and adds a silicone teething corner that babies can chew on.
- Upgrade baby’s cutlery. Believe it or not, a time is coming when your little one will be able to use utensils like spoons with ease. Let them have plenty of practice holding (and chewing!) on all-natural bamboo spoons like these.
- Chew on wood. If you would like to play it extra safe and avoid plastic and silicone altogether (and I don’t blame you!), try letting baby teeth on natural wood. The wood should be unpainted and untreated—look for toys or rings made with a soft wood such as maple and let baby work on it.
- Try a teething mitt. These little mitts are cute AND clever. Strap a mitt to your baby’s hand and let them self-soothe the pain away by gnawing on soothing food-grade silicone
How to Soothe a Teething Baby at Night
If your child (and you!) are suddenly waking up at all hours of the night, teething could be the culprit. Notice I said could be. There are dozens of other reasons a child may suddenly start waking up such as ear infection, a mental development leap or a new motor skill they want to practice. Thankfully, all of these natural teething remedies are completely safe and can be used to help soothe baby regardless of the initial issue.
The other good news is that teething pain is fairly temporary and kids are very resilient. Keep your normal bedtime routine and try to let your little one soothe him or herself if they cry out in the middle of the night. If they need help, try breastfeeding or bottle feeding your child. Make sure to keep the lights low and speak to your baby in hushed, calm tones. You can also rock your baby and let him or her chew on a clean finger or a natural teether. Infant pain relievers can also be used as a last resort—just be aware that they are filled with dyes and unnecessary chemicals.
Remember, at the end of the day, teething is a natural process that all babies need to go through. The reward of a mouthful of healthy pearly whites is worth it. Hang in there, mama! This too shall pass.
Tania Griffis is a writer and blogger who lives in the Dallas area with her husband. They are proud new-ish parents to a toddler who is becoming increasingly active, which has spurred them onwards in their natural journey. Tania is passionate about stripping her home of chemicals and creating a beautiful, safe environment for her family to thrive in. You can find her blog at www.runtoradiance.com.