Teething Products

Topic Overview

There are many ways to help your baby who is teething. You can help relieve discomfort by offering your baby safe objects to chew or suck on. Use caution with teething gels.

Teething rings, teethers, and toys specifically for teething

A wide variety of teethers and toys are made of nontoxic materials and are specially designed for teething babies. Teething rings come in many different sizes and shapes. Some are made of firm rubber (with or without bumps). Others are filled with water and made to be chilled in the refrigerator. Don't freeze these types of rings or teethers, because they become too hard and may harm your baby's gums.

Clean teething rings, teethers, and toys after each use. Check the package label to see if the object is dishwasher-safe. Don't boil water-filled teethers, because they may break open.

Never tie an object such as a teething ring or pacifier around your baby's neck. The cord could tighten and choke the baby or, at the very least, irritate his or her skin.

Cold foods or liquids

Babies often resist feedings when they are teething. Sucking brings more blood to the gums, which increases sensitivity and swelling in the area. If your child is eating solids, try offering cold foods and fluids to help reduce the swelling and discomfort. For example, try feeding your child:

  • Frozen ice treats. These can temporarily relieve your baby's discomfort, although you will need to closely watch your baby and help him or her to place the cold treat where the tooth is erupting.
  • Hard, chewy frozen foods such as bagels and bananas. These types of foods can be given to babies older than 8 months. Give your child pieces of chewy foods that are small enough for him or her to swallow. But use care in the types of foods you provide, keep your baby sitting up, and closely supervise at all times. Do not give your child salty or spicy foods, because these may irritate the gums.
  • Very cold applesauce, pureed peaches, or yogurt.

You can also dip a clean washcloth in water, freeze it, and let your baby chew on it.

Over-the-counter products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend using pain relievers that you put on a baby's gums, such as teething gels. These products usually contain benzocaine, or sometimes lidocaine, which can be harmful if used improperly. If these products are swallowed frequently, a baby's throat could become numb. This may cause difficulty swallowing. Also, benzocaine or lidocaine can be toxic if large concentrations build up in a baby's body. Some babies can get a rash from these products. And some have other types of reactions.

Do not use teething powder or aspirin on your baby's gums. Inhaling small particles of teething powder or aspirin can cause lung problems. Also, aspirin should not be given to anyone younger than 20, because it has been linked with Reye syndrome.

Do not give your baby any alcohol. Check medicine labels carefully. Avoid buying those that list alcohol as one of the first few ingredients. Alcoholic beverages, including fruit-flavored brandy or wine, can be harmful to your baby in any amount.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine
Last Revised April 16, 2013

Last Revised: April 16, 2013

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