Thursday, April 14, 2011

Alternative Teething Solutions

Last Thursday the FDA issued a warning about the use of the topical pain medication benzocaine.  Benzocaine is the active ingredient in teething gels and other topical pain medications.  The FDA received reports that have linked this drug with a rare condition methemoglobinemia, which is serious and can result in death.  In the warning the FDA said that OTC or over the counter medications should not be used on children under the age of two without a health professional's advice and supervision.
So what is a mother to do when even if she is advised by her healthcare professional she still has reservations about applying the teething gel?  Here are a few of the options that have worked for us.

Frozen Washcloth
That is always the first thing I reach for when Little Man shows signs of teething.  I take a regular terry washcloth wet it and squeeze out the excess water.  Then I stick it in a freezer bag and place it in my freezer.  I usually keep one in there for quick use.  If you don't have one already you can wet one and stick an ice cube inside.  I secure it with a clean piece of yarn or string.  Little gnaws away on it and is happy with cool, massaged gums.

Oh Plah! Teething Cuff
I use the Oh Plah! when Little Man cannot get soaked because of a wet washcloth or if we are out of the house.  Its shape and texture allow it to get into his mouth and apply pressure to his gums.  If you haven't checked out my review/giveaway yet - you should!  It is great because I don't have to worry about it breaking or leaking water or gel because there is none.  I can freeze it too if I wanted for some added comforting measures.

I know what you are thinking - "she's going to put a teething baby to her breast for comfort while he is cutting teeth!? Is she nuts?"  No, I'm not nuts.  Nursing offers yet another comforting sensation to teething infants and no they do not always bite.  I did not even know that Little Man had his first tooth until my mom found it.  Also Little Man and I practice nursing manners.  If he bit me, he was removed.  It did not take him long to learn not to do that.  I wrote about our experience here.  Nursing is very comforting to a breastfed baby.  The closeness and the warmth is familiar and can release a lot of the stress of teething.

Now on to some things that I have yet to try myself but I have heard work wonders from other moms.  These will be acquired for any additional siblings for Little Man.

Amber Teething Necklace
These get a thumbs up from me without having to try it myself because I use an amber pendant for my own pain.  Teething necklaces are small beads of baltic amber that are hand-tied into a short necklace or even a bracelet.  Babies should not be left unattended while wearing the necklace and the necklace should fit well - not too long or too short.  My friend Amanda used one with her son and she wrapped it around his ankle while he slept so he would not choke.  Otherwise he wore it on his neck.  They are not meant to be chewed on.  The baltic amber secretes a healing oils when it is warmed by the skin.  Your baby absorbs this pain relieving oil and it soothes his teething pain.  They have been used for many years in European countries.

Spiral Mama - from USA!
Pure Comfort - from Canada
Amber for Sale - from Latvia

Natural Material Teething Necklaces
On etsy there are a few varieties of teething necklaces made from natural materials.  There are unfinished hardwood pendant teething necklaces and knotted wooden bead necklaces in beautiful fabrics.  Here are just a few of the shops I found with some really beautiful products.

Real-Wood Toys- wooden pendant necklaces
Painted Turtle Wooden Toys - wooden pendant necklaces
Taryn Stuff - wooden pendant necklaces
Grits and Giggles - fabric and wooden bead knot necklaces
Little Headbands - fabric and wooden bead knot necklaces
KangarooCare - crocheted and wooden bead necklaces
The Little Things Boutique- Fabric and wooden bead necklaces
Marine Parents [the shop] - Fabric and wooden bead necklaces

All of these options are safe and do not involve your child eating anything or you risking giving them too much of something.  There are also homeopathic teething tablets but I would rather exhaust all of these options first before giving Little Man something to ingest.  What methods do you use?  What works for you and your little ones?


  1. Thanks for this! We are going through teething woes right now and I've just started with the amber necklace - it seems to work very well so far! Always helpful to have multiple natural remedy possibilities though :)

  2. My 3 month old has been drooling on everything, so we are looking forward to teeth soon, I'm sure.

    A friend swears by the amber necklaces - I'm definitely planning to get one, if I can find a masculine one for my little fellow.
    And I love the Oh Plah bracelets. Gotta get one of those too. :)

  3. We use an amber teething necklace, frozen snacks or celery to gnaw on, and when all else fails - teething tablets. When it's really, really bad, a few drops of clove oil diluted in an edible oil like olive or coconut and rubbed on the gums works wonders. Clove oil is a natural numbing agent.

  4. I'm going to try out the amber teething necklace myself. I thought about it and I was like I love the amber myself so why not get Little Man one? I ordered from Inspired by Finn. Stay tuned for the review!
    @Melissa - thanks for reminding me about the frozen snacks. I forgot we use homemade ice pops too - mama or coconut milk.
    I'll look at the clove oil too.

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