Like many kids, I had braces in high school. It was such a horrible and painful experience – feeling like my teeth were slowly being ripped out of my mouth. Then there were the routine tightenings – oi, those hurt! Then as if that wasn’t enough, just before I began my last year of high school, I underwent major jaw surgery. They broke both jaws and repositioned them, using permanent titanium screws and plates to secure them. It was easily one of the hardest experiences of my life. I also had eight teeth pulled in preparation for the braces. So, needless to say, I know a thing or two about mouth/jaw/teeth pain.
Thus, when my babies are teething, I have sympathy. Heaps of it.
For the past several weeks, Ally has been enduring three teeth coming in all at once, and they are taking their sweet time to do so. Poor girl. I think we’re through the worst of it now – she’s (sorta) happy again… but man was (is) she ever in pain. And she was waking up a ton at night. She wasn’t a great sleeper before, and then it got worse. Thankfully the past few nights have actually been pretty fantastic (let’s hope it continues!).
In light of this recent (and current) experience, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve tried to help my little one with her teething pain (and things I avoid).
Things to Try
1. A pickle/carrot/apple slice, straight from the fridge (don’t use this one when baby has a top and bottom tooth because little pieces could be bitten off and become choking hazards). Aliza loves dill pickles and apple chunks.
2. Homeopathic medecines (gel, tablets, camilia, etc). The two most well-known makers of homeopathic teething meds are Boiron and Hyland’s. I haven’t been able to get my hands on any Hyland’s Teething Tablets, which I’d like to try. The Boiron Camilia is decent, but not always strong enough for the rough days, we’ve found. We’ve been trying the Hyland’s Gel (applied straight to the gums) but I won’t buy it again because I’ve discovered there are parabens in it.
3. Vanilla extract. The real stuff, not the imitation. Check your label. The tiny amount of alcohol (vanilla extract is made with vodka) provides a numbing relief. Just apply a tiny bit with your finger. This seems to work well with Aliza.
4. Cold/frozen cloth. You could dip it in chamomile tea and freeze it. Chamomile has calming effects. I have our tea-dipped-Ringley in the freezer right now, waiting for a fussy baby to wake from her nap and need it.
5. Sophie the giraffe. This toy, invented in France nearly 50 years ago, and is made from 100% rubber, with safe food-grade paint. Aliza loves gnawing on hers, and Isaac always brings it to her when she’s fussy – “she needs her Sophie!!”, he says, running to find it
6. Your finger. If in a bind, your finger is always accessible, easy to clean, and nice and soft to chew on. Plus then you can feel how many teeth are in, and far up they’ve come.
7. Wood. I have a couple of wooden teething toys for Aliza, and she enjoys chewing on them. Another natural material, wood is a worry-free option for gnawing and gumming. It’s also a little bit soft (depending on the type of wood), which is nice for baby. We prefer to use untreated and unpainted wood items.
8. Amber necklace. We had one of these gifted to us by friends who use one on their own babies. Some claim that they work wonders. I’ve had mixed results – it’s hard to measure and know for sure. In my friend’s words, “we’re not sure if it works, but we’re afraid to take it off!”. At the very least, it looks super-cute!
9. Herbal remedies – Clove oil, belladonna, chamomile, etc. There are all kinds of herbal remedies out there to treat inflammation and pain. Read up on herbal remedies if you want to go this route. There are tons of options. We’ve tried the clove oil very sparingly (it’s said to possibly cause tummy aches if overused), and it did seem to help, but we haven’t used it enough times to know for sure.
10. Prayer, and a hefty dose of patience. I’m guessing (hoping) that I’m not the only one who gets grouchy easily when the day goes less than smoothly. A baby that is super fussy and whiny due to teething, not sleeping well, etc. usually requires extra doses of patience, and lots of prayer sent up, for both baby and mama.
11. Change of scenery/distraction - Sometimes, the only thing that worked when we were all about to go crazy was to just get out of the house. Go for a walk, go for a play date, go to the library. Or invite someone over. Anything for a change of pace would usually work well for Aliza to forget a bit about the pain.
Things I Avoid
1. Tylenol (acetaminophen) – we have used this in the past, but are learning about the associated risks (liver and kidney damage, etc) of taking it, and are swiftly moving away from using it at all, especially for our children. (We also try to avoid other OTC’s like ibuprofen as well.)
2. Teething gels – most teething gels on the market contain benzocaine, a numbing agent. Most parents assume that these are safe, since they’re legally sold and marketed for babies. However, the FDA has recently stated: “Benzocaine products should not be used on children less than two years of age, except under the advice and supervision of a healthcare professional. Healthcare professionals and consumers are advised to consider the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for treating teething pain instead of using the benzocaine teething products”.
3. Joining the grouching – it’s probably pretty obvious to all of us, but sometimes it takes a real concerted effort to remain calm and not spiral into a pity party (I should say, I TRY to avoid this one, but don’t always succeed!).
4. Plastic teething toys – due to the many concerns with plastics, I’d rather avoid them altogether instead of finding out down the road that they’ve banned yet another ingredient in plastic toys that babies are sucking and chewing on all day long. Life Without Plastic says “You may wish to seriously consider your – and especially your children’s – use of plastics numbered 1, 3, 6 and 7 (polycarbonate), all of which have been shown to leach dangerous chemicals. This does not necessarily mean the others are completely safe, just that they have been studied less to date” (emphasis mine).
What do you use for teething? Any other natural remedies I haven’t listed here?
(linked up with Your Green Resource at SortaCrunchy)