Everything You Need for a Teething Baby

Of all the various stages your baby will go through in the first one to two years, teething might be one of the more mysterious ones: it starts and stops, causes rashes, drooling, and other odd symptoms, and unless you can see a tiny tooth poking through your child’s gums, it’s hard to even know for sure that teething is to blame for your baby’s misery du jour.

On top of all that, figuring out how to help your baby feel better during bouts of teething is even more mysterious. Many of the products marketed as teething pain relievers, like Orajel and amber necklaces, are not recommended due to safety concerns (the Food and Drug Administration has warned against the use of both benzocaine and teething jewelry for children).

That said, there’s no shortage of safe options to choose from—though it can be tricky to find ones that might actually soothe your baby's gums versus simply looking cute. The following items are effective and safe ways to help your baby during those long days (and nights!) of teething.

Teething Toys

Typically made of wood, plastic, or silicone and often featuring different textures (like bumps or ridges), teething toys look appealing to babies but also give them an opportunity to really gnaw on something, reducing the pain and pressure associated with teething. Toys are probably the easiest way to soothe your child’s discomfort; they’re reusable, portable, and washable, typically inexpensive, and found nearly everywhere baby products are sold.

Before buying a teether, make sure there are no small pieces that could break off and be accidentally swallowed. Also, check that every part of the toy is safe for your child to put in their mouth—for example, wooden teethers should be unfinished or sealed with food-grade ingredients like coconut oil or beeswax, while plastic teethers should be made with non-toxic materials. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting children's exposure to certain plastics, consider wooden or silicone teethers instead.

What You Need

A mix of four to six teething toys made with different materials and textures. Some babies will prefer hard wooden toys while others will prefer softer ones, so don’t go overboard buying one kind of teether until you know what your baby likes best. You may also want to buy a few extra teethers for your diaper bag, car, or any other place your baby spends a lot of time.

Feeders and Frozen Chewables

Chilled or frozen items will not only feel good on your baby’s gums, they can even numb some of the pain of teething for a while, making them a great alternative to teething toys. Some plastic teethers contain water and are designed to be frozen for maximum relief (although many babies enjoy chewing them long after they’ve thawed!). You can also soak and chill a washcloth for babies who prefer softer textures.

If your baby is old enough and has experience with solid foods, you can purchase a mesh feeder for frozen fruits and vegetables (or frozen ice cubes of baby food). Your baby may show more interest in chewing on something that has some flavor, and you’ll love knowing he or she is getting an extra serving of healthy foods!

What You Need

An assortment of freezable teethers, whether it’s washcloths, plastic water-filled rings, or mesh feeders (for older babies). Keep a few on hand so you can rotate them and always have at least one frozen.

Baby Toothbrush

We know, it seems kind of silly to buy a toothbrush for your teething baby, but massaging your baby’s gums with a special infant toothbrush (or even your clean finger, in a pinch) can relieve some of the soreness associated with teething.

As an added bonus, once your baby does start showing off some chompers, you’ll have a toothbrush all ready to go: the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends establishing good oral health early in infancy and bringing your child to a dentist by his or her first birthday.

What You Need

Look for a toothbrush with a small head and extra soft bristles; you can choose regular bristles or silicone ones, but silicone may be more soothing to raw gums. 

Pain Relievers

No parent loves giving medicine to their baby, but sometimes it’s the only thing that can help everyone get some much-needed rest and relief. If your child is waking up frequently during the night or spending all day crying, it may be worth talking to your pediatrician about the appropriate dosage of infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen for those times when nothing else will do.

What You Need

Unless your teething child is a toddler, you’ll have to stock up on liquid pain relievers (not chewable tablets). One each of infant acetaminophen and ibuprofen is good to have on hand—and not just for teething, but for all those other pain- and fever-related woes of babyhood.

It’s worth noting that many homeopathic teething remedies exist as an alternative to oral and topical pain relievers, but unfortunately many doctors warn against the use of these alternatives. Though they are typically marketed as safer “natural” options, none of them have been approved by the FDA for use, so safety claims can’t be proven.

Comfort Objects

Raise your hand if you reach for your favorite throw blanket every time you’re under the weather. Same here. So it makes sense that your child might want a familiar object, like a lovey, when they’re feeling frustrated with teething pain.

Although your child’s best-loved stuffed animal may be the only thing needed here, there are a few items that do double-duty as cuddlers and teethers—like soft blankets with soothing knots, wearable scarves (for Mom) with attached teething rings, or small stuffies featuring interesting textures or infant pacifiers.

What You Need

This might be as simple as making sure your child has her favorite pal on hand when teething pain strikes, but for kids who need a dedicated teething lovey, a cozy teething scarf or blanket, pacifier buddy, or comforting stuffie could be just what the doctor ordered.

A Word From Verywell

While it can be overwhelming to wander the teething aisle of your local baby store, what you choose to buy is mostly up to your baby: his or her preferences will often dictate what types of teething aids you purchase. The main factor for you to consider is whether or not a remedy is safe for use; there are several products on the market not recommended by pediatricians because they use unsafe ingredients or materials. When in doubt, check with your child’s doctor to confirm that your teething remedy of choice is a safe option.

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Article Sources
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  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2019). The FDA is warning parents and caregivers not to use teething jewelry. [online]

  3. Trasande L, Shaffer RM, Sathyanarayana S. Food additives and child health. Pediatrics. 2018;142(2). doi:10.1542/peds.2018-1408

  4. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2019). Brushing Up on Oral Health: Never Too Early to Start. [online]