Teething sucks.  There, I said it. And that’s why you need natural teething remedies for your baby.

The biggest problem with teething (for me at least) is that it seems to last forever. From when they’re about six months old (earlier, if you’re unlucky!) until they’re at least two and a half, there’s always a tooth that’s about to come through, a tooth coming through, or at tooth that just came through.

On the plus side, you always have an excuse for whatever socially-unacceptable behavior your child exhibits (Oh, sorry he doesn’t want to go to you, Auntie Em, he’s teething).

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Teething means that for at least two years, you can be woken up any night, at any time, any number of times, by a crying, fussing baby. And sleepy parents are not happy parents. So we’re desperate to just make it stop

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While we unfortunately can’t completely get rid of teething pain for our little ones, there are some natural remedies that we can use. Here’s several of my favorite teething home remedies after raising 4 kids through babyhood (plus information on the safety of Motrin/ibuprofen and Tylenol for teething).

Natural teething remedies

There are several natural teething remedies that are really helpful. Of course, it’s harder to use them when it’s 2AM and you’re just trying to remember what’s going on while your baby is crying. Pick the one that’s easiest for you and try it out.

The best natural teething remedy

My favorite option (shout-out to my friend Alison, to whom I am forever grateful for this idea!) is frozen veggies. Once your child is old enough to pick things up with their fingers (8-10 months), you can get them a little bowl of frozen peas and bring them to them. Babies can easily pick them up without mess, and chewing the peas will give your little one a cooling gum massage.

I’ve found that when I’ve been awake enough to actually remember and execute this trick, my baby will eat a few peas, calm down, and then finally be ready to nurse back to sleep.

Bonus: Now that my kids are older, they think it’s perfectly acceptable for me to give them still-frozen mixed veggies, peas, or carrots to eat as a snack or as part of dinner. I always have vegetables I know my kids will eat, and all I have to do is open a bag.

Best teething rings and toys

The classic remedy for a teething baby is a teething ring. These little toys are usually textured and the right shape to provide pain relief for your little one.

Classic shapes like these can be put in the fridge to provide extra relief (but don’t put them in the freezer, since they might burst). In addition, these are BPA-free to protect your little one.

I also like these toys. They’re super cute and made from food-grade silicone. And because they aren’t water filled, they can be put in the freezer. Just keep them there so that when you need one in the middle of the night, you can just pull it out and be ready.

Frozen washcloth for teething

If you don’t have any teething toys on hand, a (clean!) baby washcloth, soaked with water and left in the freezer, is also a great natural teething remedy. In addition, your baby can suck on the washcloth and get water out, which might be soothing. Just be careful not to let him have the frozen cloth on his gums too long, since that could hurt.

Fresh food holders for baby

Some people really like to freeze food into a holder for babies to teethe on.

The idea is that you take a soft food (think roasted sweet potatoes or maybe blueberries), put them in the mesh, and then let your child chew on it. If you freeze the food before giving it to baby, it can be a nice teething remedy.

My problem with these food holders is that they’re messy and gross. I really don’t want to pull half chewed-up food out of the holder when my kid is done with it, but that’s just me. Besides, I’d rather just feed my children whole foods using baby-led weaning.

RELATED: What is baby led weaning? Why I love it

Breast milk popsicles

Another option for these mesh feeders is breastmilk! You can make a breast milk “popsicle” in an ice cube tray, pop a cube into the feeder, then have it ready for nighttime.

Safe medicines for teething

Not all over-the-counter medications are dangerous for babies, as long as you know how to use them. Tylenol and Motrin are safe under certain conditions.

Can I give Tylenol for teething?

This drug is a familiar pain relievers/fever reducer.  When given occasionally at the correct dose, it can be fine.  But it does have its dangers.

Tylenol at too high a dose can cause life-threatening, irreversible liver damage.

Something to keep in mind with Tylenol is that is has a relatively low therapeutic index. This simply means that it’s easier to OD with acetaminophen than with most other over-the-counter drugs. That’s why its so freaking important to make sure your kids can’t accidentally get into your meds, even something as everyday as Tylenol.

Want to learn 11 easy swaps to reduce the chemical burden in your home (plus 4 no-cost ways to get rid of toxicants already in your home)? Sign up to get my Simple Swaps for a Healthier Home Guide. And because I’ve got a PhD in Environmental Health, you’ll know it’s info you can trust.

When used correctly though, Tylenol is generally safe. If you’re wondering if you can give your teething baby Tylenol, the answer is probably yes. Check with your pediatrician to be sure.

Infant Motrin for teething

Giving anyone (child or adult) Motrin or Advil day after day for an extended period of time can cause kidney damage or stomach ulcers. While you’re less likely to cause acute damage with ibuprofen as with acetaminophen, you still need to be aware of the possible dangers of it.

NOTE: Never give ibuprofen to a child under six months old. After six months, you can use ibuprofen.

With that said, baby ibuprofen can be really helpful for teething (especially since it reduces swelling).

Acetaminophen or Advil for teething

I know that the information I shared about infant Tylenol and infant Motrin may sound scary. But it’s all a matter of using these drugs correctly for your baby’s teething. I limit their use to a few days, and I switch out which one from day to day I use to minimize risk.

And of course, I don’t use drugs alone. I combine their use with the natural teething remedies listed above: Frozen washcloths for little babies, frozen peas when they’re older, and so forth.

The other trick with teething pain relief is to be careful with dosages. Be aware: the volume of ibuprofen that you give your child is generally much less than the volume of Tylenol per dose, so make sure to know which medicine you’re working with (especially those times you wake up exhausted at 2AM to give your kid some meds).

For some reason, infant pain reliever bottles don’t come with a dosage table on them (seriously, why?), but here are up-to-date dosage charts for both acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil).

Dangerous teething remedies

Most of these teething meds have been pulled off the market, but in case you see any old bottles/tubes of medication lying around, you’ll know what to avoid.

Old baby Orajel for babies

Teething gels, such as Baby Orajel, contain chemicals related to benzocaine. Do not use these medicines!

Back when my oldest was a baby, I refused to use Baby Orajel (much to family’s chagrin, “I used teething gel on you and you were fine!”) because I knew it could cause problems with a breastfeeding baby’s latch, potentially leading to early weaning.

Now, there’s even more convincing evidence that numbing agents are not suitable for children.

There have been years of studies showing that benzocaine can affect hemoglobin, the protein complex in your blood that carries oxygen throughout your body. In severe situations, benzocaine can actually cause babies and toddlers to stop breathing.

And don’t assume that because your baby has used numbing gel and been fine before, he’ll continue to have no problems. Some children are struck even after having used Orajel previously several times.

In fact, the US FDA issued a statement in May 2018 that they would no longer allow companies to sell benzocaine-containing drugs for babies. The risk, while unlikely, is just too serious. If you go to Orajel’s website, you’ll see that they’ve discontinued their entire line of teething products. But many people have tubes they previously purchased in their home. Don’t use old tubes of teething gel just because you have it around.

Orajel’s newer product, Baby Orajel Naturals, no longer contains benzocaine or related chemicals. Instead, it contains calcium phosphate, chamomile, and dried, unroasted coffee beans. The ingredients haven’t been proven to help with teething. Plus, the first ingredient listed is alcohol. While Baby Orajel Naturals may be “safe” to use, it’s not effective. Skip this product.

Homeopathic teething medicine

Teething tablets are another item that have recently been taken off the market but might still be lying around the house. Teething tablets contain belladona, also known as the poison nightshade. 

Hyland’s teething tablets would probably be safe if they were made to the exact specifications on the bottle. The problem is that because of the extremely low dosage, it’s very difficult to make sure that they contain exactly what they say they do. In fact, the US FDA has said that according to their testing, the amount of belladonna per tablet is not consistent. One tablet might have much less belladonna, while another has way too much.

Bottom line: While most teething tablets are harmless, you’d hate to get the one that isn’t. So it’s best to just get rid of any old teething tablets you have.

Conclusions on natural teething remedies

Want to learn 11 easy swaps to reduce the chemical burden in your home (plus 4 no-cost ways to get rid of toxicants already in your home)? Sign up to get my Simple Swaps for a Healthier Home Guide. And because I’ve got a PhD in Environmental Health, you’ll know it’s info you can trust.

I hope these teething home remedies help your baby get some relief and you to get some rest!  I wish relief for your little one and sleep for you.