How is it that I never heard anyone talk about the hell that can be teething before I had babies? I feel like this is a great curse of the early parenting phase – and it can last, on and off for totally unpredictable period of time, for two years! WTF?!
Well, for sure, not every baby has a hard time with teething. But from what I’ve seen among my twin parent friends, a heck of a lot of us have dealt with the repercussions of tiny little teeth coming through, which can include: pain, fussiness/ crying/ irritability, ear pulling, biting/ chewing everything in sight, trouble napping during the day, waking at night, diarrhea, diaper rash, incessant drooling that leads to a rash on the chin and cheek, and refusal to eat. OH MY!
What’s a parent supposed to do?
I read not to use Orajel before 2 years of age. Tylenol always has helped, but I do my best not to give it during the day, only at night, unless my babe is really in agony. Motrin (after 6 months of age only) also is recommended but not as helpful, in my experience, as Tyenol. Aside from these medical options – which you should always discuss with your pediatrician and dose very carefully – here’s what has and hasn’t worked for the Joy Boys. Read to the bottom to discover our all-time favorite!
What Doesn’t Work:
- Amber teething necklaces. Some parents swear by this all-natural approach, saying the amber releases some tiny amount of am oil that helps make the pain go away. It made zero difference when I tried one on my boys for several weeks. Also the risk of choking made me very nervous – always remove necklace before naps if you do decide to try this approach. And make sure the necklace you buy is knotted between each piece of amber, in case it breaks.
- Teething rings: The idea is you put these gadgets in the fridge or freezer, so they’re nice and cold for the little one (LO) to suck on. Mine never took much interest or lasted more than a minute or two with any of theirs – and we had about 10 different shapes/styles as hand-me-downs.
- Chamomile drops: Wonderfully all-natural, and wonderfully ineffective.
- Chewbead necklaces: I so love the idea of this product — a fashionable necklace for Mom, which LOs can suck and teeth on. Brilliant! Unfortunately, my boys never took much interest in munching on mine, though I did enjoy wearing it out around town.
What Does Work For Us:
- Frozen bottle nipples: Take an old nipple that you don’t mind LO chewing the heck out of, fill bottle just a little bit with chamomile tea, cap the bottle, and turn it upside down — making sure the entire nipple area is filled with liquid. Then stick it in the freezer and voila, there is your best teething ring ever. The Joy Boys would chew and suck on these for 15 minutes at a stretch when they were teething at 4-6 months.
- Frozen washcloths: If you don’t want to use a bottle, take a bit of an old washcloth or rag, twist it tight, soak the tip in chamomile tea, and freeze it. It works just as effectively as the frozen tea-filled nipple. Only drawback is there is that even the non-frozen part of the washcloth remains quite cold, so it can be tough for your LO to get a good grip on it. You’re probably going to end up holding this cold, increasingly wet object for your babe, at least for the first 6-9 months.
- Sophie the Giraffe: My mom ordered us two of these on her first visit to the boys because her friends had told her, “It’s a must!” Well, grandma’s friends know what they’re talking about, eh Joy Boys? They loved munching on the Sophie teether for long periods of time for many many months, and from a young age (3-4 months) could easily grasp her and hold her on their own.
- Fresh food feeders. Freeze whatever you can think up or desire your teething children to eat — in an ice cube tray: chamomile tea, breastmilk, formula, a smoothie (whole fat, organic Greek yogurt + coconut water + fruit). Pop one ice cube out and into this teething gizmo for a wholesome, homemade popsicle treat. The Joy Boys go positively wild for these things. I’ll admit, there are times I have fed them 3 helpings in a row just so I could buy myself 30 minutes of non-teething-agony-related peace and quiet. Genius!