Just when you thought you were starting to get the hang of this parenting thing, suddenly everything changes.
Somewhere between 4 and 6 months, most babies will begin the painful process of teething.
Many parents blame any unexplainable fussiness on teething, but true teething only lasts a few days per tooth.
When a baby is actually teething, you won’t have any doubt about it – red, swollen gums, waking every hour, putting anything and everything in their mouths – breaking a tooth hurts!
One pediatrician said that if adults had to go through teething all over again, we would beg for morphine!
Since babies will put anything in their mouths to ease the pain, it’s important to make sure that what you are giving them is safe and non-toxic.
Unfortunately, not every baby product is made with safe ingredients.
Don’t worry – I’ve done the research for you to help you choose the best non-toxic teething toys so you can rest assured that your baby is safe. Don’t want to spend any money?
I’ve covered that, too, with a few simple DIY tricks to soothe a teething baby without breaking the bank.
In a hurry or just plain curious?
How to Choose
There are several criteria you should consider when buying a teething toy in order to make sure that not only is the toy safe for your baby, but also that they will actually enjoy it and it will do the work of soothing their sore gums.
Look for toys that are made with non-toxic ingredients but labeling is tricky, so you’ll have to do a little digging to find the whole story.
Avoid plastics with BPA or wood with paint, which could chip off for the baby to swallow.
A 2016 study revealed that out of 5 dozen baby teethers, all of them contained BPA or other endocrine disrupting chemicals, despite being labeled BPA-free or non-toxic.
Easy to clean.
Because they will be going in your baby’s mouth (duh), teething toys need to be cleaned frequently to guard against germs.
Most teethers should be hand washed in a mild detergent.
Even if it is labeled “dishwasher safe,” wash it on the top rack and check for any specifications regarding recommended temperature.
When in doubt, wash it by hand. Wood should always be washed by hand (without any soaking) and dried immediately.
Look for something with smooth, rounded edges to avoid pokes and scratches on your baby’s delicate gums.
Phthalates are chemicals that are added to plastics to make them softer, but they can leech out when your baby sucks on them.
Unfortunately, they are used in many products in the United States, though they are illegal in Europe and California.
Look for products labeled phthalate-free, or find out where the teether was manufactured.
Avoid liquid-filled rings.
Many teethers are filled with liquid, usually salt water or glycerin and water.
While neither of these are particularly harmful, you still don’t want your baby to consume them.
Especially once their teeth break through, babies can pierce these liquid-filled rings.
Some parents swear by them, but I prefer to play it safe and avoid them altogether.
No small parts.
Why any company would manufacture a product for babies with small parts is beyond me, but some do.
Make sure there are no pieces that could break off that your baby could choke on.
You may notice that a few of my recommendations do have small parts, but you’ll see that they are made with quality materials and the parts should not break off under normal conditions.
I’ve specifically avoided even the most popular teethers if they have even one review that claims they are a danger to your child.
Choose a teething toy with a variety of textures. Your baby will appreciate moving from smooth to bumpy and the differences in texture will even help prepare your baby for the transition to solid foods.
Easy to hold.
The teether you choose should be easy for little ones to grasp so they won’t become frustrated by a toy that is above their motor skill level. A toy that is appropriate for a one year old may not be appropriate for a 4-month-old, and vice versa. So choose according to your baby’s age and consider keeping another toy on reserve for when they outgrow the first one.
It may seem silly, but do you actually like the way it looks? Will your baby like it? Whether it has bright colors or neutral, pick something that you actually don’t mind looking at. After all, you’re going to see it every day from now on!
A company you can trust.
The internet is full of cheap knock off brands delivering an inferior and sometimes even dangerous product while promising safety and quality. Don’t just look at the product itself – find out who makes it, where, and how. Read reviews and do your research. Or, choose from the list I’ve already researched and approved.
The Best Non-Toxic Teething Toys For Your Baby
Of course I had to start with one of the most popular baby toys on the market, Sophie the Giraffe.
Sophie is made out of 100% natural rubber, so there is no need to worry about dangerous chemicals and plastics.
While you may be familiar with the popular original giraffe, this is the teether version, and in my opinion, better than the original.
The shape of the rings makes Sophie easy to grasp and each of Sophie’s rings has a different texture so your baby has a choice between bumps, ridges, or the smooth surface of the giraffe itself.
It’s completely gender neutral and because babies love to look at faces, they’ll find this more interesting than other teethers with bright colors but no faces.
These silicone links can be connected to create a chain, hooked to the stroller or car seat so they will never be out of baby’s reach.
You can squeeze the links to create a tighter fit to keep the chain together, or you can even wear individual links as a bracelet so they’re always at hand.
In addition to the basic multi-colored links, you can order additional links with different textures and dangling objects to keep your baby’s attention for longer.
Mama & Little Teething Necklace
Mama & Little is a family run business started by a mom who saw a need for baby safe jewelry that didn’t scream “teething necklace!”
This husband and wife duo strives to create unique pieces that are trendy enough to wear with even your cutest outfit.
Your baby will love the varied shapes and textures and you’ll love all the compliments from friends and coworkers.
There are a variety of styles to choose from along with coordinating bracelets, but I love this simple black and white version for its versatility.
Really, I love them all!
Nuby Teething Mitten
This one is especially for the early teethers who don’t yet have the motor skills to grasp and hold traditional teethers.
The mitten goes over the hand and stays put with a Velcro strap.
The soft silicone teething surface has ridges and bumps to stimulate the gums and the fabric makes a crinkly sound that babies love.
It is machine washable and comes with a hygienic travel bag to keep it clean in your purse or diaper bag.
Ike & Leo Teething Toys
This set of four teethers includes a variety of colors and textures that are sure to keep your baby’s interest and it won’t take long before they pick a favorite.
There is also a clip to keep them attached to your baby’s clothes so you can avoid the dramatics of a screaming baby when they drop their teether (which they will).
You can chill them in the freezer or refrigerator as well as wash them in the dishwasher.
Made of silicone, there’s no need to worry about harmful chemicals.
Little Toader Appeteethers
How can you not appreciate a teether shaped like a slice of pepperoni pizza?
This teether wins my approval for sheer genius and laughability.
It’s also free of toxic ingredients and adheres to the strictest safety standards – meeting or exceeding standards in the US, Europe, and Australia.
Because there are no loops for a young baby to easily grasp, this teether is better for an older baby or toddler with more advanced motor skills.
The same company makes other food-inspired teethers shaped like bacon, chicken wings, waffles, or if you prefer a more health-conscious option (but why?) there are broccoli, carrot, and pineapple teethers to choose from.
Save the broccoli for the real table and let your little one munch on a slice of pizza for fun.
Organic Farm Buddies Blankie
Most parents don’t think of a lovey doll as a teether option, but I have found that my children preferred their lovey more than any toy designated as a “teething toy.”
These non-toxic Organic Farm Buddies are made out of 100% organic cotton and safe, low-impact dyes.
Babies love to chew on the knotted ends or the animal ears and while some parents who reviewed the lovey were disappointed that there is a rattle in the head because they were concerned that it would prevent their little one from sleeping, I find the rattle to be a winning feature.
Munchkin Fresh Food Feeder
This is not a teether in the traditional sense.
It’s not a toy, but it will soothe your teething baby’s gums.
Just put a piece of cold fruit in the mesh bag and let your child gnaw to their heart’s content.
Not only will a slice of frozen banana, apple, or strawberry soothe her hurting gums, but in the process she will be learning how to chew and swallow food and you can skip the trouble of preparing fresh baby food or buying expensive baby food pouches.
It’s a win-win!
But remember, until 6 months your baby should not consume anything other than breastmilk or formula, so this is not an option for your early teethers.
Baby Banana Toothbrush and Teether
This toothbrush teether helps to soothe baby’s gums and doubles as a toothbrush for those budding teeth.
It’s made of baby-safe silicone and the looped banana peel handles are easy for baby to hold.
It comes in a variety of colors and styles but you certainly can’t go wrong with a cute, quirky banana.
Get your baby in the habit of brushing their teeth now and avoid those early morning tantrums as they get older!
Nuby Teething Bib
Products that do double duty like this Nuby bib-teething combo save time, money, and space in the diaper bag.
These bibs are made of 100% cotton muslin, which is my personal favorite fabric for babies.
Muslin softens with every wash, so it’s perfect for gently wiping drool, spit up, and baby food from sensitive baby skin.
At the bottom of the bib is a textured silicone teether for baby to chew on, so you don’t have to worry about your baby dropping the it on the dirty floor.
I’ll take these in every color and style, please and thank you!
Maple Wood Teethers
While most non-toxic teethers on the market today are made of food-grade silicone, wooden teethers were standard before the use of plastics and other materials.
These maple wood teethers are hand-crafted in the US and sanded smooth to avoid splintering.
Each teether has a slightly unique shape adding character and a gentle reminder of the human, rather than machine, that made it.
Wood is naturally anti-microbial so there’s no need to worry about bacteria, and unlike silicone teethers, these won’t pick up any lint or fuzz from the inside of the diaper bag.
The simple design is classic and sophisticated and the size and shape are perfect for tiny hands and mouths.
You really can’t go wrong with a pair of simple yet sturdy maple teethers.
Calmies Natural Rubber Teether
Another teether “made by nature,” this 100% natural rubber teether should be a hit with any baby and especially the environmentally conscious.
The design is really quite genius as it rolls like a ball but is easy for little fingers to grasp. Each “arm” of the ball has a different texture and is the perfect size for your little one to chew on.
Due it’s similarity to a ball, it’s perfect for babies that are crawling or learning to crawl, though even the littlest teethers will still enjoy it.
Baby Elefun Elephant Teether
This adorable silicone elephant is the perfect size and shape for little hands and mouths.
There are five different textures on the teether to massage your baby’s gums on the elephant’s top, back, trunk, and legs. It’s safe, simple, and effective.
RaZbaby RaZ-Berry Teether
This pacifier shaped silicone teether will be a hit with any baby who loves a paci, and even those who don’t.
The nipple of the “pacifier” is covered in bumps resembling a raspberry, while the guard resembles leaves and the ring has a “vine” for a total of three different textures for your baby to chew on.
It’s roughly the same size as a pacifier so it will fit easily in the smallest pockets of your purse or diaper bag and like most silicone teethers, it can be refrigerated for cooling comfort.
Pretty Mom & Lovely Baby Oak Heart Necklace
Last on the list is another teething necklace that both mom and baby will enjoy.
This necklace has silicone beads in a variety of shapes and textures with the added bonus of an oak heart-shaped teether.
It’s the perfect combination of textures and a cute accessory that any mom can appreciate.
While all of these teethers are great choices, what if your baby is teething right now?
What are you supposed to do in the meantime while you wait for the delivery truck to bring your order and your baby is crying from swollen, painful gums?
Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered with some simple DIY solutions for your teething baby.
Parents have been dealing with teething babies for thousands of years, long before cute animal-shaped teethers and designer silicone necklaces.
Try these DIY solutions for your teething baby and help her find relief without spending a dime.
Take a clean, lint-free washcloth and dip just a corner of it in water (not the whole thing) and squeeze out any excess.
Place it in the freezer for 45 minutes to an hour and then use the frozen corner to gently rub your baby’s gum.
She may even take it from you and chew on it herself.
If your baby is old enough to manage solid foods, freeze a banana for baby to chew on.
It’s like a popsicle but healthier! Just be sure to supervise your baby while eating, especially if you’re not using a mesh feeder.
Frozen yogurt pops.
Again, if your baby is old enough for yogurt, freeze yogurt in either popsicle trays or freeze the squeezable yogurt pops for a cold treat.
It’s perfect for a snack before nap time to fill the tummy and soothe the gums.
Be warned: it will get messy!
Take a whole carrot (not baby carrots) and clean and peel it for baby to chew on.
Unless your baby has a full set of teeth already, she won’t be able to bite off any pieces large enough to choke on but the cold, hard carrot is nature’s perfect teether for sore gums.
This was my second child’s favorite way to soothe his gums, and he still loves carrots four years later!
Remember that you should always supervise your baby around food.
Use a baby spoon.
My 6-month-old loves to chew on her baby spoon. Of all the toys and gadgets we have bought her, the spoon is her favorite!
Now that she’s eating solids, we have quite a few so there’s always one handy, even when we’re out running errands.
Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water and then spend some quality time massaging your baby’s gums with your finger tip.
Gently rub in circular motions or allow your baby to grasp your hand and lead the way. This is great for bonding with your baby, as well!
Some parents worry that nursing for comfort will teach a baby early to use food for comfort, leading to obesity later in life.
But when my baby is in pain, I’m willing to do anything (safe) to ease her discomfort.
Final Teething Tips
You may have noticed that a teething baby drools – A LOT.
All that drool can drip down her chin and hide under the folds of her neck, leading to irritation and an uncomfortable rash.
Be sure to keep a bib or towel handy and clean under your child’s neck frequently. If your baby is especially fussy, you can give her paracetamol or ibuprofen with your doctor’s approval.
Remember, babies younger than 6 months should never take ibuprofen and you should always double check the dosage.
You may have seen “drug free” teething tablets in the baby section but check the ingredients for benzocaine and lidocaine.
These can be harmful or even deadly to your baby. When in doubt, skip the medication unless you have your doctor’s approval.
Remember, teething is only a brief phase and while the long, sleepless nights may have you at your wit’s end, your baby has only 20 teeth and those teeth usually come in over a period of two years or more.
The first few teeth, along with the molars, are the most painful and each tooth usually only disrupts one or two nights of sleep.
Follow my advice and wait patiently – remember, Mama: you’ve got this.