Teething can be a challenging experience for both babies and parents! As new teeth prepare to break through the surface of the gums, pain can cause irritability, sleeplessness and even a low-grade fever in babies as early as three months old, according to the KidsHealth article, "Teething Tots." One of the most common ways to soothe a baby who is teething is to provide a teething ring. As you choose teething products for your baby, be aware of certain teething ring warnings.
Many teething rings contain a liquid-filled center. If you decide to purchase a liquid-filled teething ring, find one that is made of a durable material that your baby’s sharp new teeth cannot puncture. Freezing a liquid-filled teething ring can also cause it to rupture or crack. Once punctured in any way, the teething ring can leak. Although the liquid is typically water or saline, it can contain bacteria, which are unhealthy for your baby. In a 2006 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) press release, the FDA advised consumers to stop using liquid-filled teething rings made by RC2 Brands, as the liquid was contaminated with bacteria that could potentially lead to illness if swallowed or absorbed through a cut in a baby's mouth. Always read the packages of teething toys to check what materials went into the making of these teething rings. According to the Baby Teething Concerns article "Baby Teething Toys," teething toys made of latex or silicone are safe, while those made with chemicals such as lead or phthalates are not.
BPA (bisphenol A) is an industrial chemical found in some plastics that may affect the brain and behavior of an infant or child. The FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups in 2012. Although many other BPA products are now in a phase-out process, some teething rings still contain the chemical. According to Wendy Koch, in a USA Today article, "BPA, still found in hundreds of other plastic products such as water bottles and in the linings of metal cans and thermal cash register receipts, has been linked in studies to cancer, birth defects, and reproductive problems." If your baby's teething ring contains BPA, he can ingest the chemical while chewing and sucking on it. Today parents can find BPA-free labels on the packages of many teething products. Look for teethers made from pure, natural rubber, free from BPA, and are free from preservatives such as parabens and chemical softeners.
Like other things that babies put in their mouths, teething rings can become a choking hazard. Parents should pay close attention to the types of teething rings they choose. Find teething rings that do not have loose pieces that could detach in your baby's mouth. If a teething ring breaks or punctures, a baby can also swallow small pieces of the outer plastic. In addition, never tie a teething ring around your baby's neck, as the string can become a strangulation hazard.
Cleaning teething rings is important to prevent the growth of germs. Clean any teething ring before the first use, and clean it daily, and whenever you feel the teething ring may be dirty. Since your baby may drop a teething ring often, it is essential to wash off any dirt, hair or fuzz that may stick to it. Parents should always check the packaging to find out specific cleaning instructions. Some teething rings are dishwasher-safe; others, however, you may need to clean with soap and hot water in the sink. Usually, you can boil teething rings that do not have a liquid center.