Teething is one of those stages that’s probably just as uncomfortable for parents as it is for their baby. While cutting teeth is a major milestone that every baby goes through, the first few teeth tend to be the most painful — not to mention the most memorable for parents as they try to soothe their fussy babes.

As your baby looks for sweet relief from new-tooth pain, they’ll want to bite and gnaw to soothe their irritated gums. Your little one might start reaching for dangerous household objects — or your hands or shoulders, ouch! — and teething toys are a great and safe alternative.

If you’re a first-time parent, you might wonder when your baby will begin to get their first few sets of teeth. Most babies get their lower central incisors first between 6 and 10 months of age, followed by their upper central incisors, which appear between 8 to 12 months.

Even if you’re used to your baby’s fussiness, teething can feel like a whole new ballgame. You’ll most likely notice a few specific symptoms that let you know that they’re teething.

While most people think that teethers are only necessary for the first few sets of teeth, the molar eruption can also be very painful. So, don’t be surprised if you find that your baby needs a teether again when their molars begin to appear around 13 months.

What are the benefits of a teething toy?

The main benefit of the teething toy is to relieve the discomfort that the baby feels during this period of tooth birth, it helps to scratch the gums and because it is made of specific materials it ends up fulfilling this function well and serving as a “soothing” for the moments of pain. Besides this, safety is another positive point, because as they are specifically designed to be taken into the mouth, they are usually designed to minimize any intraoral injury or even choking episodes. The teethers are made of several materials, but in general, they have large structures so that the child can hold them easily, have no loose or disassembled parts, and are lightweight to facilitate handling with independence.

Another benefit of teethers is that they are usually offered at the same time the baby is preparing for the introduction of food, and help in the development of a very important skill considered a prerequisite for this next stage: the hand-to-mouth relationship. That is, the teethers serve as training for the child to experience this journey of taking things into the mouth, holding, manipulating, taking them out, etc.

Are there risks when using a teether?

Despite being developed with all the technology and care, and with the intention of being a safe object for babies to hold in their mouths, teething toys can indeed bring risks.

The main risk associated with the use of teethers is related to cleaning, since they need to be washed frequently and left to dry in an appropriate way to avoid bacteria proliferation, since they are usually moist due to contact with the baby’s saliva. In this case, the orientation is to create a hygiene routine for the teether to avoid any incident.

Another existing risk is to buy teethers inappropriate for the baby’s age, the indication is to choose models with smoother surfaces before the teeth erupt to avoid hurting the gums. After the teeth erupt, the ideal is to diversify the surface textures, contributing to the increase of oral experiences that favor the process of introducing food.

Teething toys and safety

While there are plenty of safe ways to ease your baby’s teething pain, there are also a lot of bad practices that shouldn’t be used.

Always inspect your teether

Considering how much gnawing and biting a baby can do, some teethers may not stand the test of time. Always inspect the surface of your baby’s teether for tears and if you find them, throw it away. A broken teether can become a choking hazard.

Chill, don’t freeze

A cold teether can be very refreshing for a teething baby. But experts agree that you should chill your teethers in your refrigerator rather than freezing them. This is because when frozen, the teether can be too hard and end up damaging your child’s gums. It can also damage the durability of the toy.

Avoid teething jewelry

Teething is one of those stages that’s probably just as uncomfortable for parents as it is for their baby. While cutting teeth is a major milestone that every baby goes through, the first few teeth tend to be the most painful — not to mention the most memorable for parents as they try to soothe their fussy babes.
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While these are a popular category that many parents swear by, the FDA recommends avoiding them as the small beads and accessories on teething necklaces, anklets, or bracelets can become a choking hazard.

Keep a bib close by

Babies are drooly, but it’s doubly true when they’re teething. All of that saliva can create skin irritations. So, when your baby is teething, keep a bib on hand to wipe up the excess dribble.

A teether is an essential item for any parent of a small baby. Teething can be a rough time for babies and parents, but you can make life easier by finding a teether that can be easily cleaned, is durable enough to last through your baby’s entire first round of tooth eruptions, and keeps them engaged.

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Healthline. 2021. 10 Best Baby Teethers of 2020. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/best-baby-teethers> [Accessed 19 July 2021].

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