Once the intensity of a baby’s “fourth trimester” has passed, teething’s right around the corner. Sadly, teething doesn’t necessarily mean a tooth will appear and the pain will go away. Some babies deal with teething pain for months – or years – as their chompers come in. Since teething pain can be so frequent, it’s best not to lean on OTC pain-killers like acetaminophen, which can adversely affect a baby’s sensitive system if overused. Also, many conventionally-made teething medications contain benzocaine, a formula used to numb the membranes of the gums. The FDA has alerted the general public about rare but potentially fatal adverse reactions to benzocaine, but hasn’t banned the drug. Be sure to check the ingredients of teething remedies, as they often include this dangerous drug.
Watching your baby suffer helplessly isn’t a great option for most of us. Luckily, there are many other great tools in our toolbelts. Here are some of The Other Baby Book‘s favorites:
1. Chill out. Recent guidelines advise against putting items in the freezer for more than a few minutes, as they may cause frostbite or damage gum tissues. So pop teething rings and the like in the fridge to soothe the baby’s mouth.
2. Eat your veggies. Food items like cold cucumbers, pineapple cores, or lightly frozen grape bites make for great teethers. Also, damp washcloths can be chilled, then given to babies to suck and chew on.
3. Chew toys. If buying teething rings, consider wood made with nontoxic finishes like beeswax. Silicone is another healthy option.
4. Amber teething necklaces. Baltic amber is a natural analgesic that has been used to treat pain for hundreds of years. Made from petrified sap, it releases oils that contain trace amounts of succinic acid as it heats up. These necklaces are often purchased by moms who practice homeopathy. Look for Baltic amber with light color (like honey) for more healing succinic acid. Beads should be individually knotted so a baby doesn’t ingest them all if the necklace breaks. Clasps that come apart when tugged are most baby-friendly.
5. Homeopathic remedies. Teething gels and tablets made from natural ingredients can be purchased in your local health food store or online. These can provide temporary relief from teething symptoms. A popular remedy is Chamomilla, which is prescribed for irritable, teething babies. A homeopath can help you find your baby’s best remedy!
Good luck! And remember, this too shall pass!