If your baby is fussing, drooling and her gums are swollen, she is probably teething. You can't blame her for being fussy as the slow process of teeth pushing and breaking through tender gums is painful for many babies. Help soothe your baby by giving her a teething ring upon which to chew.
How Teething Rings Work
Teething rings are designed to give babies something to chew on to help ease the pain. They work because they put gentle pressure on a baby's sore gums. Pressure relieves the pain of teething, according to WebMD. This is why babies who are teething often chew on their own fingers or fists. And since cool temperatures soothe inflamed gums, teething rings cooled in a refrigerator often are even more effective at relieving teething pain.
Teething Ring Designs
Teething rings are usually made of nontoxic rubber or plastic and range in texture from smooth to bumpy, soft and swishy to firm. Teething rings also vary in shape. They may be as simple as a single round circle or designed more like a figure eight, so that a parent or baby can hold one loop while the baby chews on the other. Some are colorful; others are plain.
Choosing A Teething Ring
The most important consideration for a teething ring is safety. Choose a teething ring that is free of Bisphenol A. This chemical is often used in the manufacturing of plastics, including toys and food packing products such as bottles and plastic dishes. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, scientists are worried that exposure to BPA -- which mimics the actions of estrogen and remains in the body for a long time -- can have a negative effect on the developing bodies of infants and children. Ensure to purchase a teething ring that states it is "BPA-free" on the package. In addition, check to see if the ring is dishwasher safe, if you plan to sterilize and clean it by running it through the dishwasher.
Tips for Teething Rings
Water or liquid-filled teething rings are designed to be cooled, which is soothing to your child's gums. Don't put them in the freezer, however, as this could cause them to crack or break. In addition, don't boil these rings as the boiling water may also cause them to break open. Never put a string on a teething ring and tie it to your baby's neck. Although it might seem handy to be able to attach it to your baby for easy access, it could pose a choking risk, according to WebMD.
Other Ways to Ease Teething Pain
Babies have personalities and preferences, and your baby might prefer to toss her teething ring rather than chew on it. If this is the case, you can try other ways to ease her pain. Hard but chewy foods such as bagels and frozen bananas can soothe the gums and fill your baby's tummy at the same time, according to Ask Dr. Sears. Alternatively, stick a rubber-tipped spoon in the fridge and then let your baby chew on it. A washcloth dipped in juice or water and then frozen also works well. In cases of severe pain, a small dose of ibuprofen may work, but think twice about rubbing numbing gels on your baby's gums. Not only can your baby swallow too much of it, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that Benzocaine, which is a major ingredient in such gels, can cause a serious, life-threatening condition called Methemoglobinemia.