Teething can be a stressful time for babies -- and for their parents, too. Given the crying, moodiness, and difficulty sleeping that infants experience when their teeth come in, it's no wonder that moms and dads often look to outside teething remedies to soothe their babies' pain.
But parents should be cautious when choosing an over-the-counter teething aid. In September, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning against homeopathic teething tablets, a popular product. Reactions were rare, but seizures, difficulty breathing, and other negative consequences have been linked to the use of homeopathic gels and tablets. The FDA urges parents to immediately dispose of these types of aids, which can be found at CVS, Walgreens, Hyland's, and other pharmacies and grocery stores. Seek medical care if you've used them in the past and your child begins to show unusual symptoms.
This isn't the first time the FDA has cracked down on teething aids, either: In 2012, they warned parents against using Baby Orajel and other numbing gels.
So, what are some safer solutions you can do to help soothe your baby's aching gums? Infants' Tylenol is an option for pain control, but many parents don't feel comfortable giving infants medication unless they have a fever or more severe symptoms.
Luckily, there's a host of other, safer teething remedies that can keep your baby happy and comfortable. Here are five methods you can try today.
1. Cool, Soft Foods: If your baby is six months or older and is eating solid foods, switching to cooler, soft foods like applesauce or mashed banana will help provide some temporary relief.
2. Chilled Washcloth or Spoon: You can dip part of a washcloth into breast milk or formula and freeze or chill it, then apply it to your baby's gums -- or, if they're able, let them hold it and chew on it themselves. This will also work using a spoon or a pacifier, although it's best to refrigerate rather than freeze a pacifier.
3. Mesh Feeders: Have you ever seen a baby chewing on food inside a tiny mesh bag and wondered what it was all about? Mesh feeders from Munchkin and other brands help introduce babies to new flavors, and they can be terrific for teething, too. You can fill these bags with chilled or frozen fruit or ice cubes made of frozen breast milk or formula, and let your baby gum to their heart's content.
4. Teething Toys: Chewing provides a lot of relief to teething children. Rattles, rings, and other toys made specifically for teething babies to chew on can be indispensable. They come in all sorts of options, including water- or gel-filled toys you can freeze, toys made of rubber or wood, and more -- Sophie the giraffe has been a popular teething toy over the last few years. There are even silicone-based necklaces from companies like Chewbeads you can wear yourself that are safe for little ones to gnaw on.
5. Extra Love and Care: A teething baby might want more cuddling, stimulation, or attention -- this is normal. Provide your baby with some extra love and care to help ease the anxiety of this new experience. Using your fingers to apply gentle pressure on their gums can also help.
Remember, teething is a normal process. While it might be upsetting for both parents and baby, it's a sign that your baby is growing and thriving. If you're concerned about options for easing the pain, contact your child's health care provider to discuss the right teething remedy for your infant.