Did you know that some babies are actually born with teeth already emerged? What a sight! But for most babies, teething happens sometime in the first year, often near 6 months. It’s no joke, either. Teething pain can turn even the most relaxed baby into a hot mess.
And who can blame them? Sharp teeth pushing through tender tissue sounds, well, uncomfortable (I won’t even get into how they’ll react when you start brushing those teeth!). So what can you do for your sweet baby? You have many options beyond the standard ibuprofen that are safe and effective at reducing pain and inflammation during those tumultuous teething days.
Knowing if your baby’s irritability is due to teething can give you a heads up on how you can help (and helps you know that it will indeed pass!). Here are some signs to look for:
- Excessive drool
- Fever, rash, diaper rash, cold symptoms, diarrhea
- Decreased appetite
- Pulling ears or rubbing chin or cheeks
Here are more signs that your baby is teething.
Natural teething remedies
If baby is definitely, for sure, getting some teeth, what can you do? Here are some tips for helping your baby’s pain from the inside out.
Teething remedy #1: Lower any inflammation
Inflammation from teething can stimulate nerves that cause pain. Reducing inflammation is one way you can help relieve baby’s pain.
- Low inflammation diet. White foods such as refined sugar and flour, potatoes, and even dairy can cause inflammation. Focus on paleo-type foods—a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, pastured meats, wild seafood, ample healthy fats (coconut, avocado, butter) and whole eggs.
- Lower stress. Make sure baby is getting enough rest and eating healthy foods in addition to breastmilk or formula. Over time, stress can cause inflammation.
- Balance blood sugar. This is another important way to lower stress levels, as blood sugar swings (highs and lows) require the stress hormones to get involved to keep blood sugar stable (yes, even in babies and young children!). To keep blood sugar levels even keel, focus on whole foods instead of highly processed snacks. For meals and snacks, try to pair healthy carbs (like sweet potatoes and fruit) with some protein and plenty of healthy fats to keep baby’s blood sugar levels stable to reduce stress on the adrenal glands.
Teething remedy #2: Boost the immune system
There is some debate whether teething causes fevers and colds by lowering the immune system, or whether the two occurring at the same time is simply a coincidence. However, many parents have noticed a runny nose or fever while baby is cutting teeth. At the very least, boosting the immune system can’t hurt and can help avoid baby dealing with double ailments.
- Continue breastfeeding. Baby gets antibodies from your breastmilk to help build her immune system.
- Give baby vitamin D. Many of us (and our babies) are vitamin D deficient because of too little time outside in direct sunlight (winter in northern climates, anyone?!). Babies can take liquid vitamin D drops to get their levels up to a normal range. Vitamin D plays an important role in supporting immune system function.
- Give baby probiotics. Since most of the immune system resides in the gut, building healthy gut flora is important for optimal overall health and immunity.
Teething remedy #3: Cold and pressure
One of the oldest tricks in the book, using cold and pressure to helps baby’s aching gums is still an excellent remedy. Think.. safe objects that can be frozen and then used to chew on. The cold helps numb the area, and the pressure is soothing for inflamed gums. Here are some examples:
- Frozen washcloths. Let baby chew on them after they come out of the freezer.
- Frozen fruit or veggies (put in a mesh or silicone teether for small babies).
- A cold spoon.
- Natural solid wood toys. The roughness of the wood is very soothing for some babies. Choose a brand that uses natural water-based sealants or food grade dyes, like this one.
- Natural teething biscuits. These biscuits are easy to make and don’t contain questionable ingredients like the ones you buy in the store (even the organic ones!). They can be kept in the refrigerator for a cooler treat.
Teething remedy #4: Teething toys
Something to chew on is sometimes all your baby really needs to get through the pain of teething. There are lots of options for teething toys that are also safe and non-toxic.
Silicone teething rings – Made of safe silicone, rather than latex or plastic, this teether is a safe choice.
Wooden teethers – What works for one baby may not work for the next, so if silicone and rubber don’t do it, try a wooden teether. The texture might be just right for your baby. Just be aware that teethers like this one need to be oiled or (bees)waxed before use.
Sophie used to be the gold-standard when it came to natural teething toys. But there’s been controversy recently after some moms found mold inside their toys when they cut them open. Until the manufacturer solves this problem, we don’t recommend this teether.
Teething remedy #5: Teething necklaces
If you’ve been around the natural mama circuit, you’ve likely seen those cute amber necklaces on infants. They are actually amber teething necklaces. The idea is that baby’s body heat triggers the baltic amber to release an oil that contains succinic acid, a natural anti-inflammatory. Whether they work is up for debate. Many parents swear by them, while others are less sure.
If you do choose to try an amber teething necklace, be sure to remove it when baby goes to sleep, or wrap it around a wrist or ankle as many parents do. Also, keep in mind that there are lots of fake amber teething necklaces, so be sure you’re getting a real one.
Another option is a teething necklace for mom. These necklaces are made of silicone and are great for baby to use while sitting in mom’s lap or in a baby carrier. They also act as something to fiddle with for baby while she nurses, which is quite the relief when you have a fiddle-happy baby!
This teething necklace can also be placed in the freezer for a cold treat.
Teething remedy #6: Herbal remedies
Parents have been using herbal remedies for hundreds of years to help ease their baby’s teething pain (and loads of other ailments). Here are some ideas:
- Rosehip – Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, rosehip tea is great for boosting the immune system. Additionally, rosehip has been shown to contain anti-inflammatory properties.
- Chamomile – Chamomile is a popular remedy for teething pain. It helps relax and soothe irritability.
- Catnip – Catnip is said to calm irritable babies and help them rest.
- Clove – Clove is a natural anesthetic and has been shown to work as well as benzocaine at relieving pain vs. placebo.
Any of these herbs can be made into a tea, which can be used to dampen wash clothes before freezing. You can also give the tea to baby as a beverage, or rub it directly on the gums. To make a tea, boil water and steep 1 tsp of herbs in 10 oz, of water for 6–7 minutes.
You can also make an herbal infusion that can be rubbed directly onto the gums. In a small saucepan, place your herbs and cover with olive oil. Simmer on low for 4–6 hours. Strain and store in the refrigerator. Dab some oil onto baby’s gums as needed.
Natural teething remedies: so simple!
Teething isn’t fun, but luckily there are lots of things you can do to help baby cope. Start with optimal health to alleviate excess inflammation. Then try some of these simple and natural remedies that can help relieve pain at the gums. Soon, baby will be back to normal… until the next tooth comes in!
What natural teething remedies worked for you?
What worked best for your little teething angel?