It seems like babies spend the better part of their first year teething… and then, right when you think you and your little are getting a break, the molars come in!
Being a firm believer in natural remedies, I was always slow to turn to baby Tylenol or Motrin, especially since our teething dramas went on for months at a time (and giving your little those medications for more than a few days ina row can be really damaging to their sensitive digestion, liver, and kidneys. Plus, a few studies over the last few years have shown an increased incidence of asthma and wheezing in children who received frequent dosing of acetaminophen in the first year of life (I will not that the results of these studies haven’t been completely conclusive, but even a hint of controversy is enough to give me pause).
So when at all possible, I give my little one natural remedies first, and only switch to over-the-counter medications if all else fails, never as a first line of treatment.
These 5 best natural teething remedies below are very effective and completely safe. I’ve listed them in order of efficacy, from least to greatest. Always start with the lowest level of intervention and work your way up the list!
- Amber teething necklace: Though the evidence is a bit shoddy, I myself, and several of my mommy friends swear by amber teething necklaces. During the worst days of her teething, I definitely noted a positive effect from the necklace, which releases succinic acid, a mild anti-inflammatory, when warmed by baby’s skin. It’s a choking risk to keep them on at night, however, so I would turn to the last two remedies on the list for nighttime teething relief.
- Natural rubber teething toys: These are a new baby must-have, and even now, at over a year, little M still loves to chew on her Vulli So Pure Teether (of which we have two!) when she’s in her stroller. I tend to like the So Pure Teether more than the ubiquitous Sophie La Giraffe, due to its textured sides that are much more effective for sore gums! I also love the food-grade silicone teething necklaces, which are both functional for le bebe and an adorable accessory for mama.
- Cold chewy things: There are a million ways you can go with this. Silicone feeders filled with frozen fruit, cold teething rings (I like these from Green Sprouts, made from baby-safe EVA), a washcloth dipped in water or chamomile tea and frozen. Cold is wonderfully soothing for inflamed gums, but make sure not to overdo it, as too much chewing on frozen stuff can cause nerve damage.
- Homeopathics: When baby’s teething discomfort gets in the way of their happy disposition, it’s time for the bigger guns, and homeopathy always does the trick. For mild to moderate teeing pain and irritability, Boiron Camilia teething drops are gentle, safe for daily use (up to nine doses a day), and very effective. I keep a 5-pack of these little vials in my purse to administer throughout the day, and one in the nursery to give before naps, when necessary. Camilia is wonderfully soothing for a cranky, teething baby! For moderate to more severe teething pain and irritability, Hyland’s Homeopathic Teething Tablets* are where it’s at (but see below for some important information). When Camilia alone doesn’t cut it, I use these tablets before naps, and the nighttime formulation before bed (it’s amazing for helping fussy teething babies sleep!). It can only be given 3-4 times a day, however, so when there’s severe discomfort, it’s good to use Camilia in between doses. When there is much nighttime discomfort, I give both the tablets and the drops for extra pain relief power.
- Herbs: On the rare occasion that homeopathics don’t do the trick, herbs are the best option — I’ve found them to work as well as Motrin! There are a few different formulations out there (we use one made by our wonderful holistic pediatrician), but most include some combination of chamomile, catnip (yes, catnip!), passionflower, lavender, and/or clove oil. Though perfectly safe, herbal formulations are more potent than homeopathics, and therefore best left for most severe discomfort. Though I’ve only used our pediatrician’s herbal teething mix, there are others you can purchase online, like Herblore and Balm! Baby. If you have access to an herbalist, they can also make you a wonderful tincture especially for your baby!
Thankfully, there are so many wonderful natural teething remedies out there that can help you limit your baby’s exposure to over the counter medication, which is most often completely unnecessary and sadly over-administered. For our precious littles, natural is almost always best!
* The FDA has recently issues a warning against Hyland’s Homeopathic Teething Tablets for causing seizures in some babies. Belladonna, one of the active ingredients in this formula, can definitely cause adverse effects IF GIVEN IN TOO HIGH A DOSE. I spoke with Hyland’s and they maintain that the levels of Belladonna in the formulation are safe and highly regulated, but they need to be administered in the correct dosage. The issue with adverse reactions is likely due to accidental overdose or improper dosing.
I’ve given my baby teething tablets for months on end since she was a few months old, whenever the bouts of teething got really tough. I’ve found them to work great, and we’ve had NO adverse effects. I maintain (and our pediatrician agrees) that homeopathic teething tablets are still a safer choice than Motrin or Tylenol. If you have concerns, you can limit your baby to 6 tablets a day total (in 2-3 separate doses), or just stick to the Boron Camilia drops, which are 100% safe and have no ingredients that have been tied to adverse reactions.
It’s also important to note that the FDA is not an impartial body, and they do have an inherent bias against natural/traditional medicine. The fact that they are in bed with big pharma and promote drugs that have horrendous side effects and are totally unsafe makes me very dubious of many of their recommendations.