DIY & Natural Teething Solutions for the Natural Family
My little girl is growing up… I’m not sure I’m quite ready for this yet. But there’s nothing I can do to slow it down so I am bracing myself for all that is to come. Currently, we are teething. Honestly, we’ve been pretty lucky so far compared to some of the mamas in my beloved Sugar Plums support group. When we went to the pediatrician for her 4 month checkup I mentioned that I thought she was teething. My pediatrician, who is pretty conservative with recommendations (which is one of the reasons we chose him – but sadly he’s not super hip on homeopathic or naturally minded interventions), assured me that all babies drool and chew on things like she had been and that it could be a couple weeks or months before she started “officially” teething. Well in this case, Mommy was right. 2 weeks later her first tooth was visible. 1 week after that it had already cut through and her second tooth was visible. She’s currently 5 1/2 months and both teeth are well on their way and I suspect that the top two teeth won’t be too far behind either. We’ve been lucky to have very little irritability or sleep disturbances, no fever, and none of the diaper rash that is commonly associated with teething babies so far. But I can tell she is uncomforable and while it was initially okay to let her gnaw on our fingers or hands those new little teefers are sharp! So we’ve been trying to find natural teething solutions to help her out. Today I thought I would share some of the things we’ve been doing with you!
1. Homemade Teething Oil – Given my love of essential oils, one of my first strategies to help alleviate some of the discomfort that my little one was having as a result of cutting new teeth was to turn to my go-to resource for essential oils and babies: Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern. In the book, she suggests using Orange, Frankincense, or Copaiba oil diluted 1:30 with a carrier oil applied directly to the affected area. I had Frankincense on hand as one of the Everyday Oils collection I got as part of Young Living’s Premium Starter Kit (message me for more information on how to get your new and improved Premium Starter Kit and wholesale membership!) and I had an empty 5 ml amber glass bottle (which holds an estimated 100 drops) so I put 3 drops of Frankincense in the bottle and almost filled the bottle with olive oil as my carrier oil (I figured this was easier than dropping out 33 drops of my carrier oil but feel free to be more exact if you’d like). Olive oil is a key ingredient in our regular recipes in our home so figured it would be a good oil to get her used to tasting. Plus, I figured it might taste better than the Frankincense and mask the flavor better than say coconut oil. But you could use a carrier oil of your choice. I just rub a little of the Teething Oil on my finger and let her gnaw on me for a min to get the oil to the affected area. It does seem to provide some relief. I wish I had Copaiba (now available as part of the new PSK and on my wish list for sure!) to help boost the power of the frankincense and provide added relief.
2. DIY Beeswax Wood Sealant for Wooden Teething Rings and Toys – You’ve probably seen the wooden teething rings and toys that are available online and through local boutiques. They are really popular among the crunchy granola parenting crowds. In fact, one of my best friends bought me this great organic wood owl rattle that had been treated with organic jojoba oil/beeswax polish. It’s beautiful and we love it! (You can buy the same rattle here) But of course I thought to myself, surely I can DIY some sort of similar all natural wood sealant and create my own wooden teething rings and toys. So I set out to the amazing Google and found a recipe from The Modern DIY Life blog that worked beautifully!
DIY Beeswax Wood Sealant:
- Olive Oil – We use the Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Costco
- Beeswax – I prefer the Beeswax Pastilles from Mountain Rose Herbs because they melt really easily, but you could shave off bits from a solid block if that’s what you have on hand
- Double Boiler
- Glass Storage Container or Jar with Lid
- Wooden Teething Rings (or toys) – I bought my untreated wooden teething rings here from Amazon
The basic recipe is 1 part beeswax to 3 parts olive oil (although you could use jojoba or another oil if you preferred). You want to combine your beeswax and olive oil in double boiler, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly melted. Dip your teething rings or wooden toys into oil/wax mixture and set out on wax paper to dry. Pour the remainder sealant in your glass container for future usage. I used a paper towel to wipe off excess sealant and rub the rest into the wood really well. When it is no longer wet to the touch you are done! Now you can use the toy or make a craft with your finished product. See the next two teething solutions for ideas of what you can do with natural wooden teething rings!
3. DIY Teething Necklace – This is a necklace that you wear while holding baby, nursing, or even babywearing. Not only does it give them something to fidget with and help entertain them but it is made using wooden teething rings (sealed using the sealant recipe above) so it is perfect for those new little chompers to gnaw on! Mine was inspired by these on Etsy! So if you don’t want to DIY it, go on over to Life Circles Necklaces and order you one (she also sells Baltic Amber necklaces – see below for more info)!
DIY Teething Necklace:
- Wooden Teething Rings, sealed using recipe above
- Donut gemstone bead – I get mine at Fire Mountain Gems. Since my Pepperlonely wooden teething rings had an inside opening of 38 mm I purchased a donut bead (I used Labradorite because it’s one of my favorites!) that was 30 mm in diameter to make sure it would fit
- Organic bamboo, cotton, or hemp cord
I cut a length of cord a little longer than I wanted it. I looped it through itself around the donut and tied a knot around the teething ring. Tie a knot at the end. Easy Peasy! Honestly, I wish my cord was a bit thicker. I expect that it will eventually break. I may actually try braiding pieces to have a thicker cord. You can also had wooden or silicone beads to the cord to jazz it up a bit!
She had no problem figuring out what this necklace was for! Perfect jewelry for babywearing!
4. DIY “Rabbit Ear” Wooden Teether – I kept seeing these awesome “rabbit ear” wooden teethers on etsy and on the Aden & Anais swaddle b/s/t Facebook groups online (I’m a total A&A junkie! We especially love the bamboo swaddles!) and thought surely these can’t be that hard to make! I made mine up as I went, but here is a great step by step tutorial I found on Pinterest.
DIY “Rabbit Ear” Wooden Teether (with optional Crinkle)
- Material for “Rabbit Ears” – I chose a patterned cotton for the front and Minky for the back, both of which were scraps from other projects. You could use pretty much anything you had on hand. I’d consider using terry or fleece for the back and have seen super cute teethers made out of muslin swaddle scraps! Or if you had wrap scrap materials on hand you could make a teether to match your favorite babywearing wrap!
- Crinkle material (optional) – I upcycled the packaging from baby wipes.
- Teething ring, sealed using sealant recipe above
- Sewing Machine – although I suppose you could sew it by hand… I wouldn’t want to
- Thread, Pins, Scissors, etc.
- I started by drawing out a pattern on a paper bag (I always use paper bags to create my patterns on – it’s a great way to upcycle plus it’s tough enough you can draw, erase, and pin to your fabric while cutting without it tearing apart). My pattern is about 12″ long, about 2.25-2.5″ wide in the middle with the “ears” being about 3″ wide and about 3″ from tip to where it narrows in the middle. Honestly, in hindsight, I’ll probably lengthen the pattern a bit and make it a bit skinnier in the middle next time I make one. Feel free to play around with the dimensions.
- Cut your fabric and crinkle material using the pattern. Place your fabric together “right side” to “right side.” Pin it together with the crinkle material behind the “wrong side” of one of your pieces of fabric. Do NOT put the crinkle material in between your fabric as you want it on the inside when you turn your rabbit ears rightside out.
- Use your sewing machine (or sew by hand) to sew around the edges of your material using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Leave a section open on one of the ears. Flip your fabric rightside out through the opening. You may need a pencil or something to help you get the points of the ears situated right. Close opening – I chose to sew it up by hand.
- Use your sewing machine (or sew by hand) to stitch around the outside of the fabric, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance, to give it a finished look.
- Loop the fabric around the teething ring and pull the ears taught
** If you have a serger you could actually serge the edges of the material together instead of all the sewing and flipping rightside out that I did. But I don’t have a serger and honestly don’t sew enough to justify the cost. However, I’ve seen really cute teethers made this way.
5. Homemade Teething Biscuits – They aren’t super pretty but they are super healthy and avoid all the junk in store-bought teething biscuits – like enriched flour (which means they have to add back in nutrients like calcium, iron, and zinc), sugar, or preservatives like tocopherols. I found lots of teething biscuit recipes on Pinterest (my go-to resource for all things DIY) but really liked the recipes I found on Mama Natural’s blog. To see the original recipes, check out her blog post How To Make Healthy Teething Biscuits.
Basic Teething Biscuit Recipe:
- 1 c. rolled oats
- 1 c. steel cut oats (grind oats in blender till they’re a flour consistency)
- 1 c. organic apple sauce – I made my own (see my DIY Baby Food Recipes blog post for directions and other recipe ideas!)
- 2 TB maple syrup
- 1/4 c. coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla extract
- 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
- 1/4 c. unsweetened shredded coconut (optional – I left this out)
Use 1 cup mashed bananas or pumpkin puree instead of apple sauce
Mix dry ingredients. Add in applesauce (or banana or pumpkin puree), vanilla extract, syrup, and melted oil. Mix well with spoon. I formed shapes I liked – the original author suggests “date-like” shapes but I preferred to make little rectangles, onto a greased baking sheet. I greased with coconut oil but you could also use parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Make sure to flip them halfway through so that you have a nice golden crisp on both sides of the biscuits. The original author suggests that you store in uncovered dish for at least 24 hours which will harden them further. You can also put in freezer and serve cold for extra teething relief!
**The little one LOVES the teething biscuits! And honestly, they taste good enough for me to eat like a cookie! Feel free to modify the recipe to make healthy cookies for the whole family! 🙂
6. Baltic Amber Necklaces (or Bracelets) – I’ve left the Baltic Amber necklaces for last because there will inevitably be some skeptic who yells at me about them stating that not only do they not work but they are dangerous. So I’ll share what I know, including the pros and cons that I’ve researched and trust that you will do your own research and make the decision that best fits with your family’s beliefs and needs. So here goes!
First off, lets address a common misconception: Baltic Amber teething necklaces are NOT for the baby to chew on. If they can chew on the necklace, it’s too long!
Proponents of Baltic Amber teething necklaces will tell you that Baltic Amber has an analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, is electromagnetic and produces natural organic energy, is anti-microbial, contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals, has a slight sedative effect, and activates the solar plexus and root chakras. Now you may immediately write it off as hippy propaganda and while the science is debatable there is some truth to these statements. First off, the Baltic Amber teething necklaces are thought to work on one of two mechanisms:
1) Baltic Amber contains succinic acid (true) which is suggested to have the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects (some evidence – mostly anecdotal but there are a few, and far between, empirical studies researching this claim). Succinic acid is a natural ingredient in many fruits and vegetables (true) and an additive in many vitamin supplements and food products (true). Also known as Succinate, succinic acid can often be found as an ingredient in OTC supplements used to treat arthritis and joint pain (true).
- Proponents of the Baltic Amber teething necklaces suggest that when the amber is worn against the skin the body heat activates the succinic acid which is then absorbed by the skin and has an analgesic effect. There is no doubt that amber does indeed contain succinic acid but the question arises as to whether body heat is sufficient to release the succinic acid and/or whether or not the succinic acid can be absorbed through the skin to have the same affect as taken internally as a dietary supplement.
2) Baltic Amber has an electromagnetic charge (true) which reduces pain and inflammation (debatable). There are a great deal of products on the market that claim to use electromagnetic energy to reduce pain (true). But some studies claim that there is no significant reduction in pain using electromagnetic pulses and may, in fact, contribute to electro-sensitivity (true).
- When amber is rubbed it does tend to produce an electromagnetic charge which will attract light bodies and magnetic iron ore. Ancient Greeks suggested that when rubbed long enough amber would even produce an electric spark. The question becomes, however, whether or not the rubbing of amber against the skin produces enough electromagnetic energy to be comparable to electromagnetic pulse therapy.
But the anecdotal evidence is strong. Baltic Amber specifically is a resin from pine trees that grew in Northern Europe around the Baltic sea as many as 300 million years ago. It is harvested from the Baltic Sea floor by scraping the floor with nets and collecting the resin from tangles in seaweed and sand at ebb-tide. Baltic Amber has been used throughout history for pain management. It is highly prized among the Nordic people, Celts, Mediterranean peoples, Arabs, Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks for it’s beauty as well as healing properties. Those who subscribe to the idea of Chakras claim that it helps balance the Chakras by filling the body with vitality, alleviating stress, and drawing disease out of the body. Because it is non-toxic, mother’s have been using Baltic Amber to treat teething pain for many years.
Risks with using Baltic Amber teething necklaces: I would be remiss if I did not address the risks involved with using Baltic Amber teething necklaces. These are definite concerns and the biggest argument against using teething necklaces on babies and children. As a result of the risks below Canada and Australia now require warnings on amber teething necklaces and France and Switzerland have even outlawed their sales in pharmacies.
- Strangulation – the most common cited example of strangulation hazards and teething necklaces comes out of Australia where a young mom let her daughter sleep in her amber necklace and went to wake her from a nap to find that the toddler had gotten her arm twisted up in her necklace and cut her airway off. Thankfully the mother found her daughter in time and she did not suffer any lasting consequences of the very scary event.
- Some proponents of Baltic Amber teething necklaces will tell you their child sleeps in their necklace nightly and not to worry. You can find blogs and forums all over the internet with similar stories of no harm done. They argue that teething pain is still painful while their child is sleeping and that they want their child to benefit from the jewelry 24/7. But realistically, it only takes once and those who are proponents but advocate for safe use of Baltic Amber jewelry will suggest removing necklaces at night and during nap time, as well as any time your child is not directly supervised. They suggest if you want your child to wear the necklace 24/7 to remove it from the neck and place it wrapped around your child’s ankle under a sock or in footed pajamas during nap and night time.
- However, a correctly fitted Baltic Amber teething necklace would not allow enough room for a child to get their arm up under the necklace. Find out how to get the proper fit here.
- Some retailers also offer bracelets and anklets as suitable alternatives.
- Choking hazard – amber teething necklaces do contain lots of small beads, this is true. Therefor it is a logical conclusion that small parts = choking hazard. If a child were to swallow several small amber beads all at once there is a definite risk of choking.
- However, a well designed genuine Baltic Amber teething necklace from a reputable retailer is knotted in between each bead. The idea being that the string would break if pulled hard enough, thus reducing the risk of strangulation, and if so only a single bead would fall from the necklace leaving the remainder knotted on the string, thus reducing the risk of choking hazard.
For what it’s worth: In my investigating the pros and cons, risks and benefits of Baltic Amber teething necklaces, I could not find a single documented death from either strangulation or choking related to wearing an amber necklace. That doesn’t mean the risks are worth considering when making the best, informed choice for your family but it is food for thought.
My little one has worn her Baltic Amber teething necklace every day since she was 12 weeks old. She is now 24 weeks old, has cut both of the lower two front teeth and is working on cutting one, or both, of her two front upper teeth as we speak. Compared to some of the other mothers I’ve met, my daughter seems to suffer much less from teething symptoms than other children her age. She does drool some but not as much as others, is sometimes a little fussy (who wouldn’t be?) but is easily consoled with one of the above mentioned methods, never turns away the boob or solid foods, doesn’t tug on her ear as is common with teething pain, has had very little sleep disruption, and doesn’t have the often associated symptoms of diarrhea or diaper rash. Overall, we love our Baltic Amber necklace (I actually have an adult sized amber necklace that I love as well) and I recommend any parent of a teething infant or toddler to do the research on them as a viable, natural alternative to medications like Tylenol for teething pain management.
For more information on Amber Teething Necklaces visit Amber Artisan’s website. I did not buy our teething necklace from them, it was a gift, but they do have a beautiful selection of different genuine Baltic Amber necklaces, bracelets, anklets and other jewelry. There are also tons of websites that give anecdotal evidence of the pain relief provided by Baltic Amber.
For a skeptic’s perspective visit Science Based Medicine.
7. Other Not-So-Natural Teething products we love:
- Terry Cloth Teethers – Ask any grandmother or mother over the age of about 50 what they used when their children were teething and almost unanimously they will tell you they put a damp washcloth in the freezer and pulled it out for their children to chew on. But we were gifted a Sassy Terry Teether that is shaped like a bunch of grapes. It is designed to be wet and put in the freezer just like grandma’s remedy. It is also available in a watermelon shape but we prefer the grapes because the little grape knobs are easy to chew on.
- Baby Banana Teethers, available as a banana or a corn cob (we have the corn cob) – this was one of those things that one of my Sugar Plum mamas, from my internet support group, said “go buy” and nearly all 120 members rushed out to buy right away, it’s that awesome! Seriously, they should give us compensation! This is a BPA-free, silicone teether toothbrush that is not only great to chew on but helps remove plaque and tarter from those little chompers to help promote good oral hygiene even before they can say “toothbrush!” You can buy them as a set or separately. Here they are together on Amazon: Baby-Banana-Brush-Bundle-Cornelius
So that’s that! What are some of your favorite teething home remedies, natural or not-so? Share below to keep the conversation going!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Products and techniques mentioned here are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information here is in no way intended to replace proper medical help. Consult with the health authorities of your choice for treatment.