Your Baby is Teething! Here’s What Will Help.
So when will your kid start teething? Well, we definitely know it’s sometime between childbirth and when he or she heads off to college. The biggest tip off is that they start gnawing off your hand. This usually happens between 4 and 7 months when they get their first tooth.
Because it takes quite awhile for all those teeth to come in (up to 24 months), every symptom your baby has, including fussiness, drooling, diaper rash, loose stools, fever, loss of appetite, sleep problems and humming old Prince songs will at some point be blamed on teething. Doctors don’t agree on whether these symptoms are from teething or are just coincidental.
But teething can cause your baby real distress and you’ll want to figure out some ways to calm him down. With my first daughter Dylan, I let her teethe on my cellphone. This is a very bad idea for a couple reasons. Cellphones have about a gazillion germs (that’s an estimate) and if you allow your kid to chew on it, it will eventually break (mine did). Teething toys are a whole lot cheaper than a new cellphone.
Because I have five kids, you’re probably thinking I know the most perfect, magical solution to teething pain. Well, I don’t. Because it really depends on each child. But here are the things that have worked for me (post broken cell phone) and some of my mom friends. So try a few out and see what your baby likes.
1. Gel Teething Rings (about $4)
Just pop a gel ring teether into the refrigerator or freezer and then let your baby chew away! Just don’t let it get too cold or your baby can’t comfortably hold it. These rings are super affordable and BPA-free. Not a cute, hip giraffe but still gets the job done.
2. Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush (about $8)
I know. Just when you thought you owned every baby item out there, you suddenly hear about the Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush. (Try to say that after a couple glasses of Chardonnay.) A girlfriend of mine swears this thing is a great teether.
3. Iced Washcloths (No charge because you already own a washcloth.)
Just throw a wet wash cloth in the freezer or refrigerator (just make sure it’s not too cold or it will be uncomfortable for baby to gnaw on). Some moms also put a pacifier in the freezer and then let their baby chew on it.
4. Teething Jewelry (price varies)
Want to always have a teether on hand? Wear it ladies. The Smart Mom Teething Bling Donut Teething Necklace ($18) is non-toxic, comes in lots of cute colors and you can just throw it around your neck. Also fun for babies to hold onto when they are nursing. Some moms do complain that this necklace picks up lint too easily. If only it was a dustbuster too.
Another jewelry option is the Chewbeads Stanton Teething Bracelet ($16.50) if you’re more of a bracelet kind of girl. No BPA or phthalates here.
The same company that sells the Stanton Teething Bracelet also sells Stack and Play Toy ($25) that are fun to play with and soft on baby’s gums. Also no BPA or phthalates. Your child will be playing with these toys long after they stop teething.
5. Frozen Food Feeders ($3)
If you are a really neat person, a frozen food feeder might give you a nervous breakdown because they tend to get really messy. But hey, parenthood is messy anyway, right? Put frozen fruit, crushed ice or frozen breast milk/ formula into a mesh feeder and let your baby chew away with no risk of choking. Be warned – these mesh feeders can be hard to clean. I hated cleaning out the mushed banana and other food, so they didn’t really work for me for feeding purposes. But the crushed ice I could handle.
6. Sophie the Giraffe Teether (about $20)
This is one very popular giraffe! I guess that’s why she has a cute, trendy name like Sophie. In fact, it’s the third most registered-for baby product on Amazon! Many babies loves this rubber giraffe but be warned, it has a pretty loud squeak that can bring on adult headaches. (Update Jan 2017: please see this concerning story about a couple of consumers finding mold inside their Sophie teethers; company’s response included.)
It’s very flexible and has lots of parts for your baby to chew like ears, horns and legs. Is anyone else craving giraffe for dinner now? It’s made of 100% natural rubber (like found on the nipples of baby bottles) and food paint. (update: a reader just brought our attention to a controversy over one of the chemicals– nitrosatable substances– found in Sophie. Apparently even though the levels are now below the German limit, it is still of concern as harmful to some parents. You can read about the history of this controversy on the Sophie the Giraffe’s Wikipedia page).
If you have a dog, your pup will immediately assume this toy is for him. (But for the love of motherhood, don’t let dogs and babies share teethers!) And I know of one baby who seemed to love Sophie as much as he loved his parents. They decided to invest in two of these giraffes just to make sure they didn’t suddenly find themselves with a MIA giraffe and a very cranky baby.
So What Am I Using For Baby #5?
With my kids, I really liked the gel rings because my babies could hold it at a young age. With my youngest baby Cash, I’m also trying out the Smart Mom Teething Necklace and one of the Chewbeads’ bracelets for the first time. With so many kids, I like that I can throw it around my neck or wrist and don’t have to be constantly searching for a teether for him amongst all the kid paraphernalia I tote around. A friend also gave me a simple, round natural wooden teether, so we’ll see if he warms up to a more old school option.
If you’re a first-time parent, don’t stress about teething. Just arm yourself with a few essentials to see which one(s) your baby responds to and you will get through it just fine.
And then one day you’ll blink and the tooth fairy will be at your door.