The inspiration to write this post has come from my current 3 month old daughter beginning to cut teeth. One day she was just so fussy and wouldn’t sleep. She kept sticking her finger in her mouth and then crying in pain. So I stuck my finger in her mouth and felt around and on her top gum, it felt like a tooth was coming down. It was lower than the other side and felt a little harder than normal. Everyone said look for the white but there’s no white tooth popping through just yet.
Now mommy is on the hunt for some teething toys. I know that the majority of baby toys tend to be plastic and I really want to avoid this because of the chemicals and disposing of them after. There is also silicone which is fine if it is not heated (when silicone is heated it releases bad chemicals). But are there other options? And what brands are known to contain healthy, clean materials? And what, if any, medications can I give my little one to help soothe her gums during this painful experience?
Dangers of Plastic Teethers
As a lot of us know, not only for environmental reasons, but plastic is bad. It contains chemicals known to cause health issues. Any kind of plastic most likely contains chemicals that are hormone disruptors. Then if we take into account how small a baby is compared to an adults, and that they are putting these teethers in their mouths ALL THE TIME, that is a lot of chemicals being put into our precious babies bodies. It’s basically like soaking the plastic in water, which breaks down the materials and releases the chemicals IN THEIR MOUTH.
There was a study done that is published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Environmental Science and Technology. It tested 59 teethers by soaking them in water for an hour and then testing the water for chemicals. Most of the teethers they bought had claimed to be both BPA free and non-toxic.
Unfortunately, they found BPA in almost every single one, and 15-20 different toxins were present as well. CBS News interviewed the author of the study and you can read that full article here.
“CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula said possible health risks of early childhood exposure to endocrine disruptors could include asthma, diabetes, neuro-development disorders, obesity, and reproductive abnormalities.”
If we are shopping as parents or friends and we see these products labeled “non-toxic” or “BPA free”, we think we are protecting the infant receiving this toy. Then to find out that these products still contain chemicals that can affect them is appalling.
Most of the cold teethers with liquid inside are made out of plastic. After learning what we did above, I found some other options to help soothe babies gums.
If you have an organic cotton washcloth, wet it and freeze it. You can give that to baby to chew on and sleep soundly knowing it is chemical free. My daughter loves to chew on her cotton blankets anyway so this is a good choice for us.
Some people also recommend various frozen foods like a frozen carrots, waffle, or bagel. But my 3 month old has not yet been introduced to food, and I would be afraid they may chew off a piece and choke on it. So I recommend those be used only under close supervision.
Silicone is a great option because it is BPA free and is known to not leach chemicals. I find silicone baby toys almost everywhere I go. You should be sure it is 100% food grade silicone for your babies safety and your peace of mind.
Here are some of the ones her father and I are deciding between:
Wooden teethers are wonderful because they are made by nature. No harmful components and they are biodegradable! Most wooden teethers have a beeswax or vegetable oil finish to help prevent splintering. I have even seen some with the option of no finish.
Maple wood is the best wood for your toy to be made from because it is the least likely to splinter. Below are some great options. I really like the ones that have wood and organic cotton because it gives two types of textures and my daughter enjoys chewing on cloth.
Another great option is 100% natural rubber. That is important because if it is not 100% natural rubber than it may contain latex which is a common known allergy. Although, it’s not as common as it used to be. The reason I would avoid latex is that it can contain nitrosamines which is a carcinogen. I have some links to ones I like below.
Amber Teething Necklaces
Amber teething necklaces are not for chewing! I totally thought they were for the longest time. They are known to release succinic acid which is absorbed into the babies skin and helps with pain. If you believe in the energy different crystals and minerals possess it’s also known to help calm down the body. I love different crystals and believe in their mystical properties, but her daddy does not so I understand whichever view you hold.
There are some other concerns with the amber teething necklaces and that is the possibility of strangulation from any form of jewelry on a young child. My daughter is never out of my sight unless she is asleep. If you use the necklaces, remove them for naps and bedtimes. Always supervise your baby for their safety while they are wearing any jewelry.
Issues with baby numbing gels
went to Target looking for baby Orajel to sooth my daughters sore gums, but luckily the store was out or did not carry them. I had not done my research, I just ran into the store desperate.
I later found out that the FDA recommends against any medications with Benzocaine as it can cause a rare blood condition linked to deadly breathing symptoms called methemoglobinemia.
What about Lidocaine to help numb my babies gums? Absolutely not! The FDA issued a black box warning stating using lidocain poses more risk than benefit. There have been 6 deaths from using it, 11 hospitalizations, and over 22 reports of serious adverse reactions. The cause is that it is difficult to gauge how much you’re giving to your baby. Too much can cause seizures, brain injury, or other terrible symptoms.
Even Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen are not good for babies. That’s something else I was looking at getting for my sweet baby. When I saw that the Orajel was gone I looked at Tylenol or Motrin as alternatives. I read that under 6 months we should only give them Tylenol. I ended up going with something else, and later read more into pain relievers for young babies. This article I read goes over how Tylenol works in the body and the dangers it presents perfectly.
Homeopathic Teething alternative medications
. When I went to Target to get my baby medicine, I ended up leaving with Hylands Teething Tablets. It claims natural relief and it does not contain Belladonna, Benzocaine, Artificial Flavors, Dyes, or Parabens. I later found an article from 2016 saying the FDA did a press release saying this product contained amounts of Belladonna inconsistent with the product labeling. The company pulled all of their products and has since changed their recipe. Supposedly.
This brand along with CVS gels and tablets had a lawsuit in 2016 when their products caused seizures and difficulty breathing in infants. Read about the lawsuit here.
I totally gave my daughter the Hylands Tablets. One every 15 minutes, 4 times. The package said you can give one an hour as needed after the first 4 doses every 15 minutes. She was already asleep so we only had 4. But the following day there was a moment when she was in her car seat and was shaking really strangely. I don’t know if this is coincidence, but I don’t think risking or compromising my daughters safety is worth it. I would much rather have patience with her, give her mommies clean fingers or a frozen washcloth.
The Safest Teething Options for Baby
I wanted to give my little one the gel or some pain relief to help her. That’s what everyone always talked about giving babies when they were teething. I now realize how unnecessary it is. The risk far outweighs the benefits in this situation.
I will, however, be ordering one of each of the teethers (well her dad offered to buy these for me, yay!) so she can have a variety of textures for her gum massages. I’m liking the Hevea Panda, the Aspen and Maple Terrycloth Teether, and a silicone teether made in the USA. Of course, Mommy is going to get an amber teething necklace too! I’ll update once we see how she likes each one.
Let me know in the comments if any of your children used these teethers and how they liked them. Or which other ones do you recommend?