If your child is teething, you probably want to get him some relief right away. But maybe you want to avoid the ubiquitous plastic teething rings due to safety concerns, problems with leaks from the fluid inside or just for aesthetics' sake. Or maybe your child dislikes them; even very young children have their preferences. Fear not: you can find plenty of alternatives to soothe your baby's teething discomfort.
Latex rubber is a natural substance that's soft on irritated gums, yet durable enough for prolonged gnawing. Solid rubber teething toys come in all shapes, from rings and stars to giraffes and mushrooms. Rubber toys can be put in the refrigerator to cool for extra relief -- but don't freeze them, as they can get stiff enough to bruise tender gums.
Unlike rubber, silicone is a man-made substance. But silicone teething toys are generally made of medical-grade material that's slightly spongy and yielding, yet firm enough to resist tearing. Like rubber, silicone teethers come in all shapes, often sport bright colors and can be put in the fridge for a cooling effect. As an added bonus, silicone teethers can also be run through the dishwasher.
One teething solution that's both eco-friendly and inexpensive is a damp washcloth that's been placed in the freezer for 30 minutes, according to KidsHealth.org. The cold helps soothe baby's irritated gums, the texture is interesting for baby's mouth and the terry cloth is both durable and safe to chew. This makes for a great pinch-hit teething solution if the rest of your teething toys have disappeared behind the couch. Just make sure to have the washcloth frozen ahead of time so it's on hand when you need it.
Frozen Bagel or Banana
AskDrSears.com recommends frozen bagels or bananas as teething aids. Once again, the cold temperature soothes inflamed gums. This time, as the bagel softens, it can be gummed into nutritious oblivion; no worries about sharp new teeth puncturing a toy or tearing a hole in something. On the other hand, it's a good idea to use this teething remedy only under close supervision in case your baby bites off a choking-hazard-size chunk by accident.
Using a wooden spoon as a teether may make you feel terribly old-fashioned, but it turns out that they're quite effective, not to mention cheap and handy. Wooden spoons are made to be in contact with both food and your mouth regularly, and quality spoons are sanded and oiled until splinters are simply an impossibility. The wood's hard texture presses against baby's gums, providing a modicum of pain relief. And the shape often proves interesting to little ones, who chew on the handle as well as the bowl. No need to buy a new spoon dedicated to teething; just wash the one you have with dishwashing soap before and after use. You can find other turned-wood teethers in interesting shapes if you'd prefer.