If you pay attention to parenting news, you’re clued in to the FDA’s recent (and not-so-recent) recommendations to nix those homeopathic teething tablets. Uncertain levels of toxic belladonna (commonly known as deadly nightshade)? No, thank you. We buzzed our go-to ped, Dr. JJ, for her suggestions on natural teething remedies, and she offered a new perspective. Here’s the scoop.
“I’ve told my patients this thousands of times over the years: Teething is not an illness—it’s a natural process,” says Dr. JJ. “Too often, we perceive excessive chewing, salivation, or mild whimpering as a reason to medicate our babies.”
“I’ve told my patients this thousands of times over the years: Teething is not an illness—it’s a process, a natural condition,” says Dr. JJ. “Too often, we perceive excessive chewing, salivation, or mild whimpering as a reason to head out and medicate our babies, when in fact we can console our little ones with more TLC and some simple steps until their teeth break through the gums.” Lightbulb moment. Those questionable pills were just an easy out.
So, how to best provide said TLC? Dr. JJ has two favorite techniques. “Take some little washcloths, wet them, wring them out, roll them up tightly like taquitos, and place in a plastic bag and freeze. Pull one out and let your baby chew on it—the texture feels good, the cold is soothing, their saliva is absorbed, and they are distracted.” You can also rub the baby’s gums with the icy-cold cloth, specifically over the area of eruption. Rinse and repeat.
Trick #2: Put tape over the nipples of some small baby bottles. Put an ounce of water in each bottle, invert them, and freeze. Then remove the tape and let the baby chew and suck on the water frozen into the nipple. As it melts, your baby gets a refreshing drink, the ice can’t be choked on, and because you put so little water in the bottle, little hands don’t get too cold. “To me this approach is much safer than handing a child a frozen bagel or other cold food, as the choking risk is real—especially if a parent turns their back at a critical moment,” Dr. JJ says.
She also adds that it’s important to remember that teething does not cause fever, and because babies are teething essentially from 5-6 months up to 2 years, parents should not write off fever as teething. “The two processes often happen together, but significant fevers are a reason to look at the big picture, and not blame teething.”