Tender, swollen gums, lots of drool, and a cranky, irritable little one. If you’re willing to scour the globe for something to keep your baby soothed as he cuts his first teeth, pack your bags! Here’s a look traditional teething remedies from around the world.
Teething Remedy: In Japan, babies were once give wooden kokeshi dolls to gnaw on when they started to teethe. The modern alternative? Natural wood teething rings coated with beeswax for chomping and chewing delight.
Want to give it a try? Wooden teethers come in all shapes and sizes. This nubby one from Rakuten can even do double duty as a spinning top!
Teething Remedy: From Germany comes the crisp, crunchy and slightly sweet toast used for centuries as a traditional teething biscuit. Zwieback comes from German words zwei ("two) and backen ("to bake") because the process of making the toast requires bread to be baked, cut into slices, and then baked again. It was first introduced in the United States and Canada in the 19th century by German Mennonite immigrants. Enjoy biscotti with your coffee? You are eating the Italian version of this recipe!
Want to give it a try? Easy! Carefully peruse the baby food aisle the next time you are at the grocery story and you will likely find a box of Zweiback toast. Even with all the modern alternatives, a number of baby foods manufacturers are still twice-baking this traditional favorite.
Teething Remedy: Using an egg to alleviate teething pain is a folk remedy that may have its roots in traditional African medicine, though it also pops up as an old wives' tale in the Caribbean and in some regions in the United States. According to lore, when signs of teething are first detected, mothers should place a raw egg upright in an sock or bag and tie it above where their baby sleeps. That's it! The magic of the egg does the rest and teething pain should be no more. When Baby's teeth have emerged, the egg can be taken down.
Want to give it a try? Some traditions call for the baby to be given a choice of three eggs and the one they try to grab is the one that will work for this teething trick. In another version, the egg is hidden in a drawer or tucked under the bed in the baby's room. Does it really work? Only you can be the judge of that!
Teething Remedy: According to Ayurvedic medicine, India’s traditional form of medicine that uses different spices and herbs for healing, cloves are useful for reducing inflammation and soothing sore gums. Ground cloves can be made into simple paste by adding water; with a clean finger, gently massage a small portion of paste into the gum. Another alternative is to mix one drop of clove essential oil with two tablespoons of a carrier oil, such as a safflower oil. Mix well before applying.
Want to give it a try? Be aware the clove, especially in the form of essential oil, can be irritating to sensitive skin and gums. Try it in a small area first to check for reactions.
Teething Remedy: Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) rely on acupuncture and acupressure to provide teething babies with soothing relief. According to TCM beliefs, energy channels ("meridians") that pass through the gums are related to the stomach and large intestines. When there is stagnant energy and "extra heat" in these meridians, teething irritation and inflammation becomes more common. To relieve teething symptoms, acupuncturists may place needles at certain points on the body to get the energy flowing again or use acupressure, a technique in which energy points are massaged.
Want to give it a try? The acupuncturists at Ashville Acupuncture in Ashville, North Carolina offer the following guidance on how to active the three main acupressure points involved in teething:
Large Intestine 4: located between the thumb and the first finger, on the mound created when you squeeze the thumb to the hand.
Stomach 40: located half way down the outer leg between the knee and ankle, about an inch off the shin bone.
Stomach 44: in the webbing between the second third toes.
Activating these points can help take the heat out of the gums, stomach, and intestines, thus relieving the child’s discomfort. Stimulate each point by gently massaging throughout the day, as needed.
Teething Remedy: Sophie the Giraffe, the teething toy produced in France since 1961, has gone on to become the teething toy of choice for babies around the globe. Is it all the interesting parts to chew? The "just right" feel of natural rubber? Or that happy expression that seems to say, "Hey cutie, teething's a pain, but we'll get through it together!"? Whatever the appeal, Sophie is always à la mode!
Want to give it a try? Find out what happened when BabyZone blogger Andrea Wade Davis put Sophie to the test!
Teething Remedy: Amber's anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties are recognized by many naturopathic health practitioners as a natural analgesic for relieving pain, including the pain of teething! Amber's secret ingredient? Succinic acid, a compound released by the amber resin and absorbed by the body when the stone is worn next to warm skin. Amber from the Baltic region of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is thought to be especially rich in this healing substance. Teething necklace made from amber have been used for centuries in the Baltic region and elsewhere where natural amber is found.
Want to give it a try? First things first, amber teething necklaces are meant to be worn, not chewed! Anytime you put anything around your baby's neck, there is a risk for suffocation or choking, so be prepared to monitor your baby at all times when wearing the necklace and remove before bedtime. Look for necklaces made with double-knotted amber beads and a breakaway clasp feature, like this pretty amber teething necklace, which can also be ordered as an anklet or bracelet.