Teethers: A Primer
Your baby will get his or her first teeth somewhere around six months of age. For some infants, the process can start as soon as three months, for others it can begin as late as twelve months. Teething is about a two-year process wherein your child’s teeth literally bust through the gums, causing significant pain, as well as stress for everyone involved. With that said, let’s sink our teeth into the world of teething, and the tools used to combat all the pain that comes with it!
Every child is different, but oral pain and discomfort will become the norm in the months leading up to, and during teething, lasting about two years from the onset. The American Dental Association has a handy chart that displays the ”eruption order” of teeth, as well as general guideline for when it will happen. The first teeth that show up are on the bottom of the mouth. These are the central incisors, and they’ll rear their ugly head somewhere around six months of age.
There are some simple ways of identifying the start of the teething process. Look for symptoms like excessive drooling, a low-grade fever, unusual crankiness, as well as trouble sleeping. When we say excessive drooling, we mean some serious water works. During this time, we recommend switching gears on your bib game, and using the aptly named bandana bib.
Bandana Bibs are pretty straightforward. Their triangular, bandana shape sits closer to your child’s neck, working specifically to collect drool. While normal feeding bibs are great, they tend to hang lower, and most are made of a plastic, or easy-to-clean material. Bandana bibs can be worn more casually throughout your baby’s every day.
We tested 5 of the top-rated items from Amazon, and ultimately landed on this model because of the nicer fabric, faster drying time, and superior absorption of liquids. The Akeelah Baby Bandana Bibs are reasonably priced (a four pack is between $15 and $18). The bibs wash well, being composed of organic cotton and fleece, and dried faster (even on a low setting) than the competition. Three snap enclosures ensure a tight fit too, so there’s no need to worry about your baby soaking their shirt! When the bibs are fully saturated, or you’re ready for a new one, just toss it in the washing machine and grab a new one.
The FDA says that, “On average, children get one new tooth every month from six months of age to about age three [years], for a total of 20 “baby teeth.” As your child gets closer to that first tooth, the area of the gums around the eruption site will become tender, which can cause enough pain to wake a sleeping baby from their nap. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends skipping topical creams or gels, as these are quickly washed away by drool. The FDA, too, has warned against using such gels due to the potential for a condition called methemoglobinemia, wherein oxygen flow in the bloodstream can be decreased. While very rare, the condition is most harmful to children under the age of two, so we recommend taking the professional’s advice here.
Instead of these topical treatments, that AAP recommends teethers. Teethers are toys you give it to your child to chew on. The cool surface with soothe the gums, while also providing stimulation and a welcome distraction from the pain. After weeks of research, talking to parents and reading the latest guidance from both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA, we’ve compiled a list of teethers that will surely help you and your baby through this thing called teething.
The brand Vulli has been making Sophie the Giraffe since 1961. In this modern world, there are now several different Sophies, but the dual ring teether is our favorite. We like the dual ring teether because it’s easy for kids to grab, and of course, to chew on. The So Pure Teether isn’t hollow, like the original Sophie, so there’s no squeaking here. Plus side, both the original and the So Pure versions have the same contrasting dots, which help to attract your child’s eyes. Lastly, the teether is made of 100% natural rubber, which provides enough give for easy chewing, while still being durable enough for repeated use.
The Gummee Glove may be new to the market, but it already has 389 reviews on Amazon, with 92 percent being four or five stars. Place the 100% cotton glove on your child’s hand, secure the velcro and let your baby chew away. We like that it’s brightly colored, and that it offers multiple surfaces for chewing and sucking on. If your baby is in pain, put the glove in the fridge and let it hang out for 15 minutes. Giving your child the glove provides them the opportunity to soothe themselves, which can be a productive experience and a lesson in independence.
This teether is the least expensive model on our list, at about $7. The design is simple. The four-prong shape allows the teether to reach molars, all while mimicking the shape of a finger, something familiar to the baby. The teether is brightly colored and lightweight, so it’s easy to pack. The medical grade silicone holds up well to repeated abuse, and can be cleaned easily with hot, soapy water. It may be incredibly simple, but sometimes those simple items work the best.
Zoli’s Chubby Gummy is the reincarnated version of the classic Gummy Stick. This updated design features a shorter stalk, making it easier for the baby to hold, and to use effectively. Zoli’s design focuses on the first and second molars, where many teethers are geared at the central and lateral incisors. The end of the Gummy Stick is made of polypropylene, which makes it super-light. The end is covered with thermoplastic rubber, or TPR, which makes it extra chewy.
The shape of the teether is similar to a child’s toothbrush, this is no mistake. Your child using the Chubby Gummy also introduces them to the world of dental hygiene, just like our next pick the Baby Banana Brush.
The Baby Banana Brush has over 4,000 reviews on Amazon, with an overall rating of 4.7. Almost every single parent we talked to had one of these, and they all spoke very highly about it. Why? For one, it’s made of food grade silicone, with a peel-like design for easy holding. Those peels also help to prevent choking. The bristles at the end of the brush help to massage sore gums, while also looking a lot like a toothbrush.
From the company, “[The Baby Banana Brush] brings teething and brushing together, helping babies to develop healthy oral care habits from the earliest age possible, literally taking dental care “into their own hands.” Flexible and available in several shapes, the Baby Banana Brush is a clear winner.
To combat the symptoms of teething, it’s important to have at least a few different options at any given time. While your child chews on one teether, keep another one ready to go in the fridge. Regular maintenance of each teether should include washing them in hot, soapy water and allowing them to air-dry. Some models, such as the Baby Banana Brush and the Comotomo are also dishwasher-safe.
Teething is a stressful time for all parents (and babies!), so we recommend having an array of teethers on hand to help soothe your cranky tot. Look for teethers geared toward your little one’s developmental stage—but teethers tend to be on the cheaper end of most baby products, so trying out several different brands won’t set you back too much. The important thing to keep in mind here is that both the FDA and the AAP advise you stay away from topical gels and creams, so as much as you are tempted by the idea of a quick fix, stick with the teethers. Good luck!