Monday Health & Wellness: Help for a Teething Baby

Jacob’s teething.

Or so I think, given that he’s 7 1/2 months old and has yet to pop one through.  Bekah got her first at 5  1/2 months, and Daniel, at 6 months.  So this whole “no teeth past 7 months” thing is new to me.  He loves to gum on big chunks of frozen fruit (really the only food he’s yet enthusiastic for…and he doesn’t actually eat much of it anyway), of course he likes to bite me.  But that’s the age, too — he also likes to pinch me and pull my hair and give me kisses, and screeches if anyone else is holding him and I walk by and don’t immediately pick him up.

But I digress.

Teething’s not so fun, for moms or babies.  Babies are irritable and they chew and drool and scream, and sometimes they don’t sleep.  This makes for a very tired and stressed-out mommy.  How can we help them…without resorting to Tylenol?

OTC Drugs for Teethers?

I’ll be honest.  I was very hesitant and waited until Bekah was six months old, but I did give her Tylenol.  In fact, not knowing any better, I gave it to her a lot from around 8 months until 13 months (she got something like 12 or 16 teeth, a couple of colds, and some other stuff that made for a very difficult time).  We found out when she was 19 months that her glutathione (an amino acid that is critical to immune function) was seriously depleted.  She was speech delayed.  In fact, she lost some words after a year.  Tylenol depletes glutathione.  Was it related?  Well…it’s likely it was at least partly caused by Tylenol.

Anyway, OTC drugs of any kind are not benign, even if they are marketed to babies.  Tylenol and even ibuprofen are so ubiquitous that we don’t even think about it anymore — I mean, you have to have those things on hand, right?  Just in case?  If not for teething, then for fevers (but don’t do that!  Fevers are beneficial to the body and shouldn’t be artificially lowered).

All of these pain relieving drugs come with a side effect of depleting glutathione and lowering immune function.  They also come with the possibility of liver damage in case of overdose.  It is so, so easy to overdose a baby.  If you give more than one medication, or you forget when you last gave it, or the other parent gets up with the baby and doesn’t know you gave it recently, or you read the instructions on the bottle wrong, or you don’t know your baby’s accurate weight….  You get the idea.  So easy to overdose a baby.

Skip the OTC drugs.  There are other ways.

Teething Tablets

Last week, Jacob was waking every 15 minutes, crying, and there was no obvious reason for it.  He wasn’t wet, he wasn’t hungry, he wasn’t hot.  The only thing I could think was that his teeth were bothering him — that he was feeling achy.  The big kids had hidden the teething tablets (you would think I’d learn to keep them put away, but no) so we didn’t have any.  I took a quick trip to Walmart, and then Target (Walmart was out) at 10 PM at night.  Then I made the mistake of telling everyone on Facebook they would guarantee us a better night’s rest.

Never say such a thing.

Of course, he proved me wrong, continuing to wake and require multiple feedings, rockings, and diaper changes, plus peeing through his clothing and on me and the bed.  The only sound sleep he got was after I stripped him and laid him in his bed in just a diaper.

Anyway, teething tablets, on other occasions, have been a life saver.  They are a homeopathic product by Hyland’s, and they contain a variety of remedies which reduce swelling and achiness, and help the baby sleep.  They don’t have any side effects.  They also come in a quick-dissolve little tablet, which is really nice for the little ones.  I have used them for all my babies successfully.

Some say that Hyland’s is not the best choice because in true homeopathy, the one proper remedy is chosen — the remedies are not mixed.  If the remedy doesn’t work, it’s because it is not the right one for that particular person.  I believe this.  I only choose the Hyland’s when the babies are little because of the quick-dissolve aspect.  Others say you really ought to be giving the little pills dissolved and succussed (shaken) in water anyway so that doesn’t matter.  I am not an expert on homeopathy.  This is about the extent of what I know.

Other homeopathic (single remedy) solutions are:

  • Chamomilla
  • Belladonna
  • Aconite
  • Calcarea Phosphorus
  • …and more (see the link)

I used chamomilla successfully with Bekah; Daniel didn’t respond to it, so I chose belladonna, which worked for him.  I haven’t yet figured out the “one” right remedy for Jacob, but I will try chamomilla first.  These remedies can be used in place of OTC drugs.

Image by Amber Mall

Amber Teething Necklaces

Another really awesome and completely natural way to help teething pain is with an amber necklace.  They aren’t for chewing on, they are simply for wearing.

This sounds ridiculous, but it’s not.  Real Baltic amber contains something called succinic acid.  It is a natural pain reliever.  When the necklace is worn against the skin, the amber is heated and the acid absorbs into the skin, reducing pain and inflammation.  Adults also use them to relieve tension in the jaw, teeth grinding, and other oral pain, very successfully.

Both of my boys have used these amber necklaces.  When they weren’t wearing them, we heard about it!

Make sure to buy necklaces that are the appropriate length (it will say ‘made for adults’ or ‘made for babies’ usually).  Babies’ necklaces are very short.  They should have knots tied between every bead.  The clasp should be a screw-together clasp.  There shouldn’t be any way that baby can break the necklace and get all the beads off (hence the knots between each).  They can be safely worn 24/7, which most babies do.  The official instructions say babies should be supervised while wearing them, but of course babies are irritable at night, so…most of them wear the necklaces all the time.

Other Pain Relief Options

Recently I posted a recipe for a homemade teething cream.  If you’re worried about the clove oil, try steeping 1 tbsp. whole cloves in the oil and straining it instead.

Other ideas include:

  • Wooden teethers to chew on
  • Frozen apple slices (there’s an acid in the apples, and pears, that helps to soothe, plus the cold)
  • Wet, frozen wash cloths to chew on
  • Mesh “teethers” with a bit of ice or frozen fruit in them

Using a combination of these, most babies are relieved of most of their teething pain.  For Jacob, I put an amber necklace on him all the time, offer teething tablets if he’s especially fussy or irritable, and let him chew on frozen fruit slices here and there (he’s starting to really like that).

**This post has been entered in Wildcrafting Wednesday.**

How do you relieve a baby’s teething pain?


  1. sara says

    best advice for worried parents and teething necklaces – double them up like an anklet and put a sock on top. it keeps the necklace against the skin, and eliminates the choking concern. my dd has had the same one on for 17 months now, and the first few months were under a sock. most babies don’t even notice it’s on around their necks, though, either.
    i know some people have concerns about the necklace needing to be near the area being treated, but hey, babies are little. everything’s close to their mouth, proportionally. : )

    • Karie says

      This is exactly what I’ve done through one son and now on to the second. My hubby hates the idea of his son wearing a necklace so we wrap it around his ankle and he wears socks over top and no one even knows it’s there. But like she said, if it’s not on boy do I hear about it! He is so much fussier, and the drool…. this child drools everywhere if I take the amber off.

  2. says

    I LOVE hylands teething tabs. They are a life saver. I have heard a lot of great things about amber teething necklaces, my daughter is wearing one right now, but it doesn’t really seem to help. It is cute though. Frozen blue berries are our go to for teething pain. She LOVES them and they really seem to help the pain. I also make “ice cream” with frozen banannas and blueberries. (Get frozen fruit, put in food processor=ice cream).

  3. Maria says

    Hi everyone :)

    I read this amazing recipe and I want to do it for my baby, who I believe can be in distress due to teething. My question is: I have Clove bud essential oil. Can this be used? Is it the same as clove essential oil?

    I am eagerly waiting for your answers. Thank you so much!

  4. says

    What are chamomilla and belladona, and how do you use them for babies? My 4 month old has jsut started teething really badly and I am ready to try anything and everything to help calm her and help her to sleep better! Thanks!

  5. says

    The doctor states that the mentioned belief is the greatest myth and lists the reasons, why deciduous teeth care is just important as permanent teeth care. So, first of all, decayed and untreated deciduous teeth do hurt. Not necessarily all the time – maybe only, when in contact with food, therefore, parents may feel that baby became irritable and does not eat without any reason.

  6. Arrr says

    New studies are showing correlations between acetaminophen (Tylenol) and not just asthma, but ADHD and autism (I’m guessing metabolic causes – i.e. glutathione deficiency). How’s you’re daughter doing now?

    • says

      Hi Arrr,

      She’s doing much better. You wouldn’t know she’d had any issues! She is 6 and has a few minor food sensitivities and I think some minor sensory issues but that’s it.


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