My parents rubbed brandy into my gums when I was a teething infant—amazingly, I live to not only tell the tale, but to judge them for serving liquor to a minor. One day, my own children will have a similar, chagrined reaction when I tell them that I dosed them with Orajel to help them survive the pain of their emerging chompers.
The US Food and Drug Administration recently recommended that parents avoid numbing babies’ gums with local anesthetics such as viscous lidocaine and benzocaine (the active ingredient in Anbesol and Orajel), which can be especially harmful to children under the age of 2. Does that mean, horror of horrors, that there’s nothing you can do to soothe a teething baby? Fortunately, there are many safe and natural remedies for pain that will take the edge off.
1. Hyland’s Teething Tablets—This homeopathic remedy is 100% natural, using the power of herbs to relieve irritability and pain. The tablets dissolve in baby’s mouth and are not a choking hazard.
2. Boiron Camilia—Another time-tested and completely safe homeopathic treatment, Boiron Camilia has no risk of overdosing as it comes in single-use doses, and relieves teething pain as well as the digestive issues that sometimes accompany teething.
3. Gripe Water. For hundreds of years, mothers have given their babies gripe water to soothe teething as well as colic. This creatively named solution is really just a mixture of water and soothing herbs including ginger and fennel, with a trace amount of sugar.
4. Christopher’s Drops—We’re not sure how the herbs in this famous solution help cranky babies…we just know they’ve got a bit of a cult following among the “natural mamas.”
5. Gum-omile Oil—For centuries, midwives have known that clove oil eases pain, and have recommended combining it with soothing herbs to treat teething. This product is a convenient version of this age-old remedy, infused with calming herbs chamomile and willow bark. Even though this product is safe for babies, use it sparingly, as clove oil is extremely potent if undiluted. Could you make your own “Gum-omile” if you wanted to? Sure—just be extremely careful about the clove measurement. Mix no more than 2-3 drops of clove oil with 2 Tbs. almond oil to make the entire recipe.
6. Ice, Ice Baby. Stick a wet washcloth in the freezer for 10 minutes and you’ve got instant teething relief. It doesn’t get more “natural” than that!