Sunday, March 28, 2010

Teething Wisdom

Would you believe this happy little guy of mine is teething? Just a week ago he was cringing in pain with swollen gums as his top two teeth made their debut. My poor baby!! Clay seemed to be exibiting those classic signs of teething at about 5 months old - the drooling, slobbering, knawing-on-nuckles, nursing non-stop and the "mama-hold-me-and-make-it-better" general misery. His first bottom teeth came through at about 6 1/2 months and now he's working on the top. For a week his gums we so swollen they looked bruised and blue. I can't imagine the pain! My first, Ruby, seemed to get her teeth without even noticing, so I was unprepared this time around. Of course I want to help my babies with as little medication as possible and I am open to trying anything that is safe and time-tested. Naturally, I turned to the wisdom of my fellow Sage Femme mamas - I polled my Facebook friends, fellow doulas and even mothers from the generations before us! Here are some suggestions I've gathered as well as some general guidelines on how to help your babe get through teething safely and naturally.

Some of you may remember my giveaway a few weeks ago with Inspired by Finn. They sell beautiful Baltic Amber jewelry and specialize in amber teething necklaces for babies and toddlers. The giveaway is now closed, but remember that all of my readers are eligible for a 20% discount when you enter the code "Blog68" at checkout. I just got Clay's necklace ("maple syrup" colored) and he has word it 24/7 since it arrived in the mail. I think it has helped tremendously! He is his usual cheerful self again after a nightmare week of teething. My hubby isn't a huge fan of his boy wearing a necklace but I think it's adorable and say, "oh get over it - whatever works, works!"
Mesh feeders have been a life-saver for many moms. This relatively new invention allows a baby to try new fruits or vegetables in their purest form without the risk of choking. Many moms recommended filling one with frozen fruit or vegetables (or how about frozen ice cubes of breastmilk?) for a teething baby to knaw on for comfort. This is a great idea and will keep an older baby content for quite awhile! However, if you have an early teether who can't sit up yet or doesn't have the eye-hand coordination to hold  the feeder in their mouth, you may need to offer some more assistance.
When choosing a "teether" for your baby, be sure to choose from the many non-toxic options that are becoming available these days. Those old plastic key rings we all grew up on were loaded with dangerous chemicals and plastic stabilizers. Look for products that are free of BPA, PVC and Phalates.Here are two cute examples - Sohie the Giraffe, made by Vulli, is made of all safe rubber materials and is soft and liable and lots of fun for babies to chew on! These beautiful maple teething rings are smooth hardwood perfect for babies to cut teeth on, and free of any toxic varnish or paints. Safe Mama has an excellent list of teethers that are toxin-free on their website. Of course, a cold washcloth soaked in water or juice and frozen bagels are also popular choices, too!
I cannot personally vouch for Gum-omile yet because I haven't tried it. It is a natural, herb-based product used to rub on sore gums, like mainstream Orajel. The main ingredient is soothing chamomile. Some of my friends swear by it!!
For years I have used Bach's flower essences, mainly Rescue Remedy, for a host of different ailments and in stressful moments. As a doula, I use Rescue Remedy for laboring moms when pain or anxiety overtakes them. I've discovered that it works well for teething babies, too! Many friends suggested the old fashioned remedy of a drop of rum or brandy or even vanilla extract - alcohol - to rub on baby's sore gums. Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic mixture in an alcohol base and works very well rubbed on the gums, but has the additional benefits of calming homeopathic flower essences as well as the alcohol. Mamas can take some too, when baby has been up all night screaming! Good stuff!

One of my trusted remedies for teething pain is Hyland's Homeopathic Teething Tablets. It is especially helpful for those wakeful, restless and irritable moments in the middle of the night. The main ingredient is homeopathic chamomile. 


I hope you've found some of these suggestions helpful! Do chime in in the comments section if you have any other tips and tricks! Now go enjoy those adorable, snaggle-toothed, slobbery sweethearts of yours!


gabi said...

clay is getting sooo big!! so with these necklaces, do the babies gnaw on them or what??

Sarah Eiley said...

hey, Gabi! I have a separate post on teh teething necklaces here:

They don't chew on it, but the amber has an acid that is absorbed by the skin and is pain relieving. I really think it makes a huge difference! I forgot to put it back on him yesterday and he had a miserable day. back on today and he's happy!

gabi said...

sarah, i just want you to know that i've passed this blog onto a friend that was having problems with their baby teething and i've recomended the necklaces to a couple of moms via work. such sage advice! thanks!