Open Mouth, Insert Everything

What makes the cut when it comes to safe (and natural) ways to combat teething discomfort?

The teeth are coming, yes they are. At only three-and-a-half months old I would have thought Coraline was months away from cutting teeth, but the buckets of drool, increased night-waking, and fervid attempts at putting everything (and I mean everything) she can in her mouth suggests otherwise. Turns out that the most painful part of teething is not necessarily when the tooth breaks through the gums, but rather the longer “hidden” process of the tooth moving up through the bone. So it’s not impossible a tooth that won’t appear until six months or later is causing the discomfort she’s experiencing now.

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At least Coraline’s desire to chew on everything has come at a time when she is beginning to get a handle on her gross motor skills. Though she is often content to just gum away at her hands, she is now able to grab onto a toy and eagerly direct it to her mouth. But as we enter the wondrous world of exploration, I feel increasingly hyper-vigilant as to what she comes into contact with. Is it clean? Chemical free? Does it have sharp or loose parts? Has a pet chewed on it? Thankfully, since she is still limited to those things I put within reach, I can control what goes in her mouth for now (and will try, however futilely, to do the same once she’s mobile — a good reason to keep the home green and the toy chest full of natural wood and organic cotton toys). So what makes the cut (no pun intended)? Here are a few safe and natural ways to combat teething discomfort:

When Coraline was just six weeks old, a mommy friend gave me a box of Hyland’s Teething Tablets, swearing that when the time came I’d be so glad to have them. I know a lot of moms that swear by this homeopathic remedy. The tiny tablets dissolve quickly and apparently take the edge off just as fast. You can find them at most health food stores or online here.

Ever see a wee one with a string of amber round their neck? They weren’t making a fashion statement. Amber teething necklaces have long been used for teething-pain management in Europe. Worn close to the skin (either around the neck or wrapped around a wrist or ankle), baby’s body heat releases the amber’s analgesic oils. Baltic amber has a high concentration of succinic acid, which has historically been used in alternative medicinal modalities to combat aches and pains associated with conditions like arthritis. I ordered Coraline’s from Lithuanian company Amber Artisans.

While Coraline is pretty into anything she can put in her mouth, she’s really into her Ringley teether, and so am I. These are one of those items that you watch in action and go “Thank goodness someone thought to make this.” The handmade toy features a strip of dye-free, organic cotton terrycloth knotted (and sewn) around an untreated wooden ring. Even with her immature motor skills, Coraline is able to easily grab a hold of it, and is content to chew away on the fabric or suck on the wood. And I can feel good about what’s in her mouth since it’s 100% natural.

Who knew organic fruits and veggies were so versatile? Under the Nile makes some super cute pint-sized fruit and veggie dolls out of organic cotton that lend themselves well to chewing. Coraline has a strawberry and a broccoli, and seems to think they taste pretty good. Speaking of organic veggies: Instead of a plastic teether, try frozen baby carrots. They’re the perfect size for tiny jaws and hands, and they’re as natural as it gets.

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coraline as a pickle for halloweenIt’s a Cora-pickle! Though your favorite deli dill is too sour, most green babies will enjoy other fruits and veggies as teething toys

Photograph by Shannon Gallagher

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