I’m excited to announce that the book many of you have been asking me to write (for years!) is not only complete, it’s available on Amazon as of this morning! Mother Nature’s Baby:The Essential Baby Guide to Natural Cures & Chemical Free Living answers the most common questions I’ve gotten from readers over the years. One of the most common concerns is always teething and what can be done to get through the pain a little more gracefully, and of course, without all the over-the-counter medications we’re used to. So to give you a good idea of what’s in Mother Nature’s Baby (and perhaps to help out a parent or two with a crying baby in the middle of the night), I’m offering up the entire Teething chapter here.
Thanks again for all your support through the years, both through this blog and through the ebooks and paperbacks. I can’t express to you how exciting it is to share new things like this book with all of you! I always appreciate your input, questions, and comments.
Teething typically begins somewhere around the fifth or sixth month, but some babies show symptoms as early as the fourth month. If your baby is acting unusually irritable, if there’s heavy drooling, biting on everything she can get a hold of, or a fever under 100°F, or if she’s wakeful or restless, she may be experiencing teething. Other symptoms that are common would be facial rashes (sometimes more concentrated on the chin from all that drooling), red and swollen gums, or hardened gums.
Note: Babies who run a fever over 100°F and have diarrhea should be seen by a doctor, as these symptoms may not be related to teething.
The Usual Remedies
The most common things parents reach for when teething becomes a pain are teething gels and teething rings. But are they the best solutions? These days many doctors agree that teething gels hinder baby’s ability to swallow, possibly causing choking. And the typical teething ring has had its own controversy surrounding the materials it’s usually made of, namely the things that make the plastic pliable, such as BPA. So what’s a health-conscious parent to do?
If you’re going for a teething toy, make sure that any liquid-filled toy you purchase is filled with nothing more than water. These can be refrigerated but not frozen. Also make sure it’s a safe BPA-free plastic. One sure way is to give it a whiff. If you smell a strong odor, there’s a good chance that toy contains those chemicals you want to steer clear of. BPA-free toys are often marked as such.
Homeopathic Teething Tablets
Homeopathic tablets were a lifesaver for my son. When he started teething, he went from a pleasant baby who very rarely shed a tear to a weeping, noisy fountain. I was at a loss as to how to help him. When I discovered homeopathic teething tablets, I thought I’d give them a whirl; they’re safe, natural, and baby can’t overdose. (Still, follow the indications carefully.)
Homeopathic tablets are easily administered to babies of any age. They dissolve quickly, so all you have to do is put the recommended dosage under the tongue and hold your finger in the baby’s mouth until the tablets dissolve. Teething tablets generally ease the discomfort and restlessness, but don’t fear — they won’t dope up the baby. The restfulness to follow is usually a result of relief from pain.
For those of you who are skeptical of the whole homeopathic thing, let me just say this: I used to be too. But my baby had no idea what a homeopathic tablet was or what it might do for him. No power of suggestion here. All I knew was that my baby stopped crying after he’d had his tablets. That was enough to convince me there was something to homeopathic remedies, after all. I’ve since used them for other things, and I still get surprised at the results.
While not all herbs are safe for babies just because they’re safe for you, there are some that you can try. This is where we’ll revisit chamomile.
Chamomile can be given as a tea to ease the restlessness of teething. If you’re breastfeeding, you can drink the tea yourself, which is a great way to calm you both down after an afternoon of crying. It only takes about 15 to 30 minutes for what you eat and drink to reach the breast milk, where it stays and reaches its peak in two to six hours. Or if you prefer, you can give chamomile tea in a bottle to your baby. To prepare for a bottle, use ½ teaspoon chamomile to a cup of almost boiling water. Steep the tea for five minutes and strain it thoroughly. Make sure it’s a safe temperature, same as you would for milk or formula. Test a small amount on the inside of baby’s arm first, just to make sure he’s not one of the very few allergic to chamomile. If no reaction occurs after several hours, you can give this to your baby up to three times a day. Although as much as five ounces can be given at any one time, beware that chamomile can have a constipating effect. Also beware that any tea is a diuretic. So if the point of the chamomile is to help baby sleep, giving too much may wake him up sooner than you’d like with a wet diaper.
One last way for baby to enjoy the benefits of chamomile is to dip a clean washcloth in some chilled tea. Let him chew on it, or you can gently rub it on his gums. The chamomile has an antiseptic property, and it’s important to keep those gums healthy, especially during teething. My dentist told me that keeping my son’s gums clean with a damp washcloth during teething would actually lessen the discomfort, as the bacteria in the mouth only aggravates teething pain.
Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables, Dear!
What you feed your baby at this tender young age very much influences what he’ll turn to later in life. It’s why pediatricians encourage introducing a variety of foods when baby is learning to eat solids. It’s also a reason this next tip is such a great one, serving a few purposes at once.
For a fun and soothing teething treat, try giving baby a cleaned piece of organic fruit or vegetable, chilled or frozen first. Perfect for noshing on would be the fatter half of an organic carrot or a nice chunk of cooled celery. Keep a dish in the refrigerator with a few of these on hand. That way, when your baby starts to yelp about the pain of teething, you have a chilled chewy at the ready. My son loved his carrot and celery sticks most of all. When he was about eight or nine months of age, he’d get upset if we needed to take them away. (Make sure you watch closely. When teeth start to emerge, baby may be able to start biting off small chunks. Always supervise.)
If you’d like to try some of the smaller or mushier fruits and vegetables, get a piece of unbleached cheesecloth and cut out a square. Cheesecloth works well because it’s free of lint, it’s cheap, and it’s disposable. If you can’t find it at your local store, try online. Many online health food stores sell it for a reasonable price, and it can be had on Amazon in an array of prices. Put something like frozen peas, frozen banana, or frozen grapes in the middle of the fabric and tie it in a secure, tight knot. This is an excellent way for baby to get tastes for new foods too, and they feel pretty independent feeding themselves. But as always, keep a close eye on him to make sure he doesn’t open the cloth.
Teething can be painful and challenging for parent and child both, but having a few tricks ready to go can help get everyone through it a little easier. Being prepared is a definite way of giving you peace of mind when the time comes. When a bout of teething is done, everyone is congratulated with a new toothy grin. What could be better than that?