How to Relieve Teething Pain

How to Relieve Teething Pain: A Review of 11 Options

Just when you think your baby is sleeping like a champ…teething hits! Your baby (or toddler) who was once perfect and happy is now just miserable all of the time. Of course you want to make your little one feel better, but the reality is that teething just plain old sucks and there’s not much we can do about it. Just know that it is a temporary phase in life, and while this sounds silly to say right now, just keep repeating to yourself,

This too shall pass.

The absolute best thing for teething is time. Time. Time will pass, teething will end, and eventually you will get your sweet happy child back. But in the meantime, here are a few options that might make things more bearable.

1. Nursing

Nursing and skin to skin contact has been scientifically proven to provide pain relief. Babies have a tendency to nurse more while teething (yes, all through the night too). This has always been my number one go to for pain relief when my little ones are teething. Now, when those two year molars have come in, and I’m not nursing anymore, well, that’s another story….

2. Cold or Frozen Washcloth

Whenever you tell ANYONE that your child is teething, the first thing they will tell you is to get a wet washcloth and let them chew on it. Every time I have a teething child, I am always excited to try this first and then immediately disappointed because it has never worked for me, but I do think it is a good place to start…especially for the front teeth. 🙂

3. Chamomile

I have actually never used this, but after a bit of research to update this article, I plan on trying it next time I encounter teething with a little one. Chamomile is safe for babies and has a calming effect that can help just about any fussy baby situation. You will want to brew a strong batch of tea (get some hereand then either soak the washcloth in it, add some to your baby’s bottle, or make a frozen popsicle out of it.

4. Amber Teething Necklace

I didn’t find out about amber teething necklaces until our third child, and now I swear by them! Every child is different and this may not work for everyone, but I have noticed a significant difference when using ours. The positive effect becomes most apparent when I think, “Oh, they’re sleeping fine now…time to take the necklace off,” and then BAM they are up in the night again! Amber teething necklaces are made from fossilized tree resin and exude succinic acid oil that has an analgesic effect similar to Ibuprofen. Read more about amber teething necklaces in my blog: Do Amber Teething Necklaces Really WorkJust keep in mind that it takes 24 hours for the pain relief to take effect.

5. Allspice Teething Necklace

I learned about allspice teething necklaces from my midwife and have had great success using them. They basically release tannins that strengthen the gums and help the teeth to break through the gums more quickly. This are particularly helpful when there’s a stubborn tooth that keeps teasing you by emerging a little bit, then going down, emerging a little bit more, creating pain and inflammation, then going back down, etc. Every time this has happened with our children and we put an allspice necklace on them, the stubborn tooth pops through within 48 hours. For more information, check out my blog: How to Make an Allspice Necklace That Will Help with Teething.

6. Clove Bud Oil

I am kind of hesitant to put this here because it is recommended that many (if not all) essential oils be avoided on children under 2 (and I have never personally never used this on a child under 2), but when my 2 year old was recently cutting his 2 year molars and NOTHING was seeming to help, I diluted equal parts olive oil and clove bud oil and applied it to his gums. (*This would be great for storage or you can buy a pre-made mixture here.) He didn’t like it at first, but within minutes he went from crazy screaming/crying to totally calm and happy. The eugenol in clove oil is a numbing agent as well as anti-inflammatory, but if used too often, the skin becomes more tolerant.

7. Teething Toys

During the day, I try to use as little “medication” as possible and instead try to help my babies find teething relief by chewing on things. They love chewing on my fingers, their fingers, or anything else that seems to be within reach, but there are a few toys that have worked really well too.

  • Sophie the Giraffe – Yes, it’s plastic and we do try to stay away from it most of the time, but this is phthalate and BPA free, so that’s good, and our little ones love this toy! This is my number one recommendation. 
  • Manhattan Toy Winkel – Don’t ask me why, but every single child we’ve had has loved chewing on and playing with this toy. We’ve had to buy several. It is BPA free.
  • Teething Ring – I like this basic teething ring because it’s easy for a baby to hold onto and they can chew anywhere. This one is BPA free.
  • Mesh Food Feeder – I personally have never used this, but I have heard so many people talk about it, that I just had to give it a mention. People like to put frozen bananas in them for babies to chew on to provide some relief. It seems like a great idea!

8. Orajel

Orajel basically works by numbing the gums. There’s a daytime version and a nighttime version that has a stronger potency. Sometimes, babies are totally bothered by the taste and the fact that it’s creating a different sensation, but once they get over the uncomfortableness of the application, they get a bit of pain relief, and sometimes that is just what they need to get back to sleep or to calm down. I try not to overuse this and only apply it when my little ones are really fussy and I can’t seem to console them any other way. If they are overtired and having trouble falling asleep or if they keep waking up because of the pain, I feel like these are both perfect times to use Orajel.

*Watch Out: The benzocaine gel can lead to a rare (but serious and sometimes fatal) condition called methemoglobinemia where the amount of oxygen in the blood stream is greatly reduced. 

9. What About Ibuprofen? (i.e. Motrin)

First of all, ibuprofen is just the generic name of Motrin (also called Advil). Chemically, they are all the same things.

Ibuprofen is only recommended for babies 6 months and older.  Ibuprofen works by limiting the body’s production of fatty acids called prostaglandins. This helps to reduce fevers, body aches, pain caused by prostaglandins, and inflammation. It is slightly more powerful and lasts longer than acetaminophen, and because of this, should only be taken every six to eight hours and no more than three times in a 24-hour period. It can irritate the stomach so it’s best if it’s taken with some kind of food.

You can check out this dosage chart to see the proper amount to give your child according to his or her weight. I know that some people try to avoid giving their babies any medication whatsoever and others give it at every little whimper. I used to be right in the middle and weigh out the amount of sleep we were getting, etc., but now I’m very very hesitant to give drugs for any reason and only do so on rare occasions.

*Watch Out: Ibuprofen (like any other drug) has a long list of potential side effects. Most commonly there is stomach bleeding, but there are many other possible allergic reactions as well. 

10. What About Acetaminophen? (i.e. Tylenol)

Like Ibuprofen (Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol) reduces fever, body aches, and pain, but not inflammation. It is milder on the digestive tract, so it doesn’t need to be taken with food. In large doses, however, it can be very toxic to the liver. Doctors recommend giving children the fewest doses needed to keep them comfortable. So at most, this would be every four to six hours, and no more than five times in a 24 hour period.

You can check out this dosage chart to see how much you should give your child according to his or her weight. We were once told by a pediatrician to alternate between ibuprofen and acetaminophen for pain relief, but after learning about the dangers of both, we’re not so sure about this anymore.

*Watch Out: A recent study (Sept. 2016) came out linking asthma and attention deficit disorders in babies born to women who used acetaminophen while pregnant leading some to draw the conclusion that without the mother’s detoxification systems, this drug would be even more damaging to an infant. This information has caused us to suspend all acetaminophen usage. (Source)

11. Arnica

Arnica is a homeopathic alternative to conventional pain medications (get some arnica teething tablets here). It eases swelling, soreness, and promotes healing by reducing swelling. I have personally never tried it for teething (although we have had success using the topical gel for bruising), but if you want to avoid ibuprofen and acetaminophen, this might be a good alternative.

In Conclusion

Whenever I have a child who is bothered by teething, I feel like my entire world pauses for a bit. Sleep regresses, I slip back into survival mode, we do what we can to get through the painful moments, and the days seems to stretch on into eternity. But then, as suddenly as it begins, the gradual release of pain gives me my child back and teething becomes but a vague memory.

As I update this article and prepare for baby #5, I am not looking forward to the phases of teething, but I know that I will reflect on this list and use my best judgement to provide my little guy with the relief that he (and I) may desperately need to get through some of the toughest moments. Having options, being informed, and having a plan can do wonders for the anxiety we feel as parents dealing with children who are in pain, so do your research, find what works for you, and always remember that “this too shall pass”.

*You might enjoy some of my other blogs about teething.

Do Amber Teething Necklaces Really Work?

There is a lot of uncertainty about amber teething necklaces. Some people swear by them, and some people think they’re a placebo. I have personally had a tremendous amount of success with using amber teething necklaces to relieve teething pain, and I wanted to share a bit about how they have worked for us and why.

Amber Teething Necklace

Amber Teething Necklace

How Amber Teething Necklaces Have Worked for Us

I didn’t even hear about amber teething necklaces until our third child, Ophelia. She seemed to be bothered by teething way more than our first two had, and so I was frantically searching for anything that might work when I stumbled across amber teething necklaces on Amazon. Ophelia didn’t start teething until she was ten months old, but then all of her teeth came in at once, so of course she was in pain, and the pain bothered her and kept her up in the night…a lot.

Ophelia with Amber Teeething Necklaces

Ophelia Wearing Her Amber Teething Necklace

After wearing the amber teething necklace for about 24 hours, we noticed a marked difference. Instead of getting up in the night every hour, she was only up a couple of times and easily soothed back to sleep. Months later, we started wondering if her better sleep habits and general happiness were a mere coincidence or they were really tied to the necklace, so we took it off to test things out. Big mistake! That night was one of the worst! After we put the necklace back on for another 24 hours, it was smooth sailing once again.

When we noticed that no more teeth were coming in, we took her necklace off (and have since lost it), so when she started showing signs of getting her two year molars in, I bought another necklace. This time, I didn’t get an Art of the Cure necklace, but some cheap knock off, and it hasn’t seemed to make a bit of difference.

Our youngest son, Julian, started getting his first teeth in when he was only four months old. His first tooth didn’t seem to bother him a bit as it broke through, but the second one was just creating this big bulbous ulcer and nothing seemed to work until I put on an allspice necklace that helped his tooth to pop through within 48 hours. He hasn’t seemed to be too bothered by the whole teething thing, but he still gets up quite a bit in the night. After wearing his amber teething necklace for 24 hours, he seems to be in a much better mood and his sleeping is more soundly.

How Do Amber Teething Necklaces Work?

Amber teething necklaces are made from fossilized tree resin. The baltic amber is mined near the Baltic sea and contains a substance called succinic acid. This succinic acid is actually an oil that is released from the amber when exposed to heat, such as body heat. Succinic acid works like Ibprofen since it blocks pain and reduces inflammation. It also has other healing benefits such as strengthening the immune system by working as an antioxidant and restoring energy.

“The human body naturally produces succinic acid. The salt of succinic acid (succinate) is one of the most active substances in the processes of cellular respiration and intercellular energy creation.  Succinic acid restores oxygen and energy supply to depleted cells and helps the body return to a normal, functioning state,” from Hazelaid.

Is it Real Amber?

The odds of finding fake amber beads made of plastic in teething necklaces are pretty slim. Most fake amber products are going to be priced in the three figure range and be used for things like bugs trapped in amber. If you look at the beads, they shouldn’t all be perfectly smooth and the exact same size and shape. Real amber beads will have air bubbles, be clear enough to let light pass through, and have imperfections within the beads. They will also have a slightly tacky feel versus being slick like glass or plastic. The necklace will feel lighter in your hands than you would expect it to.

Does it Need to be Worn Around the Neck?

The amber beads work best when they are close to the source of pain, and that is why it is recommended that they be worn around the neck. This is why people with arthritis or carpel tunnel syndrome will sometimes wrap these beads around their wrists for relief.

But is it a choking hazard? I’ll admit, the thought of my child wearing a beaded necklace scared me initially, but after watching my little ones wear them, I’m not worried at all. The necklace should be loose enough around the neck, and yes, it may get lost in a few neck rolls, but I haven’t seen anything that made me feel like it was a choking hazard.

Julian Wearing an Amber Teething Necklace

Julian Wearing an Amber Teething Necklace

If you’re really worried however, look for a necklace that has a pop off clasp that can detach if it gets tugged on. I personally like the twist on clasp, however. The beads on most necklaces are individually knotted, so if it were to break somehow, you’re not going to end up with loose beads all over the place. Also, don’t worry about your child chewing on the beads. First of all, it’s not designed to be used that way (so don’t encourage it), and second of all, it’s not long enough.

Those who are still uncomfortable with the idea of the necklace being around the neck can wrap the necklace around the wrist or ankle and put a sock over it, although I cannot personally attest to how effective this would be.

Should I Take It Off?

People also wonder if they should let their little ones wear the necklace all the time or take it off for baths, etc. Well, first of all, the necklace needs to be worn for a full 24 hours to achieve the full benefit, so taking it off and on isn’t a good idea. Second, it’s totally waterproof and does just fine in the bath, so it really doesn’t need to come off for any reason.

Sometimes, Julian’s necklace would get stuck in the fat rolls on his neck and leave little red marks. I would always try to pull it away from his skin so that it didn’t sit in any one spot for too long, and I made sure that his neck was always wiped down and clean after he spit up.

In Conclusion

When your little one is in pain, and you don’t want to resort to giving them pain medication every day for the next two years as teething occurs, amber teething necklaces are a wonderful way to do what you can to keep your little one pain free. I have personally seen the success of using them, but even if there was only a slim to none chance that it worked, I still feel like saying, “Hey, what have you got to lose?” Either they work and your baby is able to finally get some relief, or they don’t and now your baby just looks cute in his or her necklace.

I have tried a few different brands of teething necklaces and I feel the the Art of the Cure Amber Teething Necklaces are the most effective. If you click on the link, it’s for the lighter colored amber. Here’s a link for one that’s a little darker. For $18.99, I feel like it’s well worth the price. I’ve purchased a cheaper one that was more on the decorative side, and it wasn’t as effective. Good luck!

Amber Teething Necklace from Art of the Cure

Amber Teething Necklace from Art of the Cure

*You might enjoy some of my other blogs about teething.

How to Make an Allspice Teething Necklace

How to Make an Allspice Teething Necklace

When I see my little ones go through teething pain, it just breaks my heart, and I want to help them in any way possible. By making this allspice teething necklace which releases tannins into the body that strengthen the gums, it helps the teeth to break through more quickly and thus shortens the time they are in pain. I didn’t learn about this allspice teething necklace until my third child, and I only wish I had known about it sooner! It is simply amazing!

Teething Doesn’t Bother Everyone

Some children seem to be really bothered by teething and some don’t. With my four children, the two girls have had the toughest time ever with teething, my older son seemed to not be bothered at all, and my youngest son was fine when his first tooth popped out, but now this second one is being a real bugger!

When the Allspice Necklace Helps the Most

The thing that’s really frustrating about teething is when you see the gum start to bulge like a big bulbous ulcer about to burst, and then you wait and you wait and you wait…and you wait some more, but nothing happens. You look into your baby’s mouth with baited breath every time you change his diaper, hoping to find a little white ridge poking through the gum, but alas, there is nothing there. Then, one day, it looks like something is starting to peek through, but then when you go to show your spouse, it’s gone…the phantom tooth! THIS type of scenario is the perfect time to use an allspice necklace.

It Really Works!

It takes a bit of time and a little bit of work to make one of these necklaces, so I’m always a bit reluctant, but then when I finally do it, I think, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

Ophelia didn’t start getting her teeth until she was ten months old, but then they came all at once. One after another, and it was excruciating for her (and for us). Her amber teething necklace really helped with the pain, but she had a couple of stubborn teeth that would just not pop through. So I made her the necklace and within 24 hours, a tooth popped up, and she actually slept peacefully that night.

Now, our youngest son Julian, who at 4 months old, is already teething! His first tooth popped through without any of us hardly noticing, but this second one is being really shy for some reason. He’s been up every hour in the night, constantly fussy and crying, and that darn tooth just won’t pop through. So, I pulled out my allspice beads and got to work making an allspice teething necklace. Just like with Ophelia, within 48 hours, the tooth popped through and peace fell over the household once again.

After Wearing His Allspice Teething Necklace for 48 Hours Julian's Tooth Popped Through

Julian’s Tooth Popped Through

How Does the Allspice Help with Teething?

My midwife was the one who first introduced me to the concept of an allspice necklace being used to help with teething. She said that the allspice released tannins that helped to stiffen the gums which makes it easier for the tooth to come out. Since then, I haven’t been able to find a whole lot of “science” to prove this point. I just know that it has worked for me and countless others.

How to Make an Allspice Teething Necklace

Making your own necklace is kind of a pain, but since they only last for about 6 months and if you’re like me with a bunch of young kids and making these often, then it would be a good investment. Otherwise, if you just go to Etsy and do a search, you can find some already made. Easy Peasy.

Materials Needed

  • Whole Allspice (I like to buy mine here. You can get the organic kind here or a small quantity here.)
  • Stretchy Thread (I like this.)
  • Big Needle (I like this one.)
  • Thimble (Optional…get one here.)
  • *Magnetic Necklace Clasp (I have never used one, but if you’re worried about a choking hazard, this might be a good idea. Get one here.)
  • Small Pot
  • Paper Towel
  • Scissors

Directions

  1. Boil the Allspice: Place about a cup of whole allspice beads in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, turn the heat off, and let them sit there for about ten minutes. (This softens the beads so that you can puncture them with a needle.)

    Boiling Allspice for a Teething Necklace

    Boiling Allspice for a Teething Necklace

  2. Drain the Water: Strain them into a colander and dump onto some paper towel.

    Boiled Allspice Draining in a Colander

    Boiled Allspice Draining in a Colander

  3. Thread your Needle: Tie the thread off close to the needle. (You don’t need to make a double string, but you can if you want.)
  4. Put the Allspice On: Find the little dimple in the allspice “bead”, and puncture it with your needle. Use your thimble (or any hard surface) to press the needle gently through the bead. Be careful not to split the allspice. If you do, just discard it, and grab another one. I like to use the biggest allspice beads that I can find so that it will be easier to thread and be the most effective.

    Boiled Allspice, Stretcy String, and Allspice Necklace for Teething

    Allspice Necklace for Teething

  5. Measure: You might want to measure the thread length first, but I just eyeball when it looks close enough to my child’s neck and then hold it up to see. When it’s wrapped around the neck, you want there to be a few fingers width of extra length.
  6. Tie it On: Tie the ends together and clip the extra string.

    My 5 Month Old Son with an Allspice Teething Necklace

    5 Month Old Julian with His Allspice Teething Necklace

  7. Watch Closely: Some children may be allergic to the allspice or just have really sensitive skin. If you notice a red rash develop, I would just take it off. Also, keep watch to make sure it is comfortable and not getting stuck in neck rolls and making red marks.
Try to Fit the Allspice Teething Necklace Around the Neck Rolls

Try to Fit the Allspice Teething Necklace Around the Neck Rolls

FAQs

  • Will the necklace choke my child? This was my first question when I heard of this! It just seemed so weird to put a necklace on such a little tyke. But with the stretchy band, I don’t really see this as a risk. If you’re worried about it, however, you just have to see it on your child, watch them carefully at first, and then make your own determination. After seeing my own children wear both this and the amber teething necklace, I am not worried about choking.
  • Can my child wear it on his or her wrist or ankle? If you still can’t get past the choking thing, you can wrap the necklace around your child’s ankle and put a sock over it to hold it in place. I don’t think this method is as effective, but it might still do the trick.
  • Can my child wear it in the bath? Yes, your child can wear the necklace all the time – day and night and in the bath. I suppose you could make some kind of little clasp to be able to take the necklace off and on, but I just tie mine on and leave it there as long as it’s needed.
  • How long is it effective? As long as you can still smell the allspice, it should still be effective. They will typically last for about 6 months or so. I usually put one on my child as the teeth are coming through, and then take it off after they pop. When my child needs another one, I’ll just make another one.

In Conclusion

When I look at my little ones teething and then I try to imagine what I would be like if I had a mouth full of sores all the time, I think of two things. 1) You bet your buttons I would be cranky too! 2) This must be why children don’t have vivid memories of these years (thankfully). As a mom seeing her children go through something painful and just plain awful, I want to do whatever I can do mitigate the pain. This allspice necklace may take a bit of effort, but on the slim chance that it might just work, it’s well worth it in my book! *If you don’t feel like making one, you can probably find one on Etsy. 🙂

*You might enjoy some of my other blogs about teething.