Emily is a clinical herbalist trained at the International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and under master herbalist Michael Tierra
Some babies weather teething episodes with nary a whimper. "You can't even tell when he's teething," I heard one mother say at a playgroup. I tried to keep my eyes from shooting daggers her way.
When my baby is cutting a tooth, the whole neighborhood knows about it. She cries in pain at night and is cranky all day. These week- or even two-week-long episodes leave the whole family stressed and sleep-deprived.
As a mom and herbalist, I've tried several natural teething remedies, some of which are available commercially and some of which I've concocted in my kitchen. Here are some of the most useful recipes and products I've found in my quest to lessen my baby's teething pain and distress.
It is important to note that following recipes are based on traditional uses of plants and, while generally recognized as safe, are not intended to treat any medical symptoms or conditions. Please consult a qualified medical professional when considering these or other traditional teething remedies.
Herbal Teething "Popsicles"
Don't worry. I'm not suggesting the kind of Popsicles that come on a stick. These baby-friendly versions are delivered safely in a mesh feeder like the one pictured below,.
The herbs in this recipe are all very relaxing and comforting to a distressed baby. At the same time, the coldness of the Popsicles helps to dull the teething pain.
In a quart-size Mason jar, combine:
1/3 cup dried chamomile flowers
3 tablespoons dried lemon balm
1/2 teaspoon of dried lavender flowers.
Fill the jar with just under a quart of boiling water. Cover tightly to trap in the volatile oils. Then transfer to the refrigerator to steep overnight.
Strain with a very fine mesh strainer or coffee filter and pour liquid into ice cube trays. Do not fill each space completely as cubes will need to be small enough to fit into a mesh feeder. Freeze until solid.
When baby is cranky or in pain from teething, pop an herbal ice cube into a mesh feeder, snap closed securely, and give to baby.
Please note: If your child is allergic to daisy-family plants, do not use chamomile.
Chamomile can stain, so make sure baby wears a bib when eating teething Popsicles. It probably goes without saying, but never give these herbal ice cubes to baby without the mesh feeder for safety.
My baby loves the taste of this somewhat bitter herbal formula. She is an herbalist's daughter, after all! But if yours objects to the taste, you can decrease or omit the lavender flowers and/or use hot, diluted pear juice to steep the herbs.
If baby needs more support than is provided in one or two cubes per day, use frozen foods in the mesh feeder that are appropriate for your baby's age and eating abilities.
Cranky Baby Tea
Make the tea for Teething Popsicles above, but instead of freezing, dilute it with half water and put it into a bottle or sippy cup once per day. Serve at room temperature. Mom can drink the tea and pass the benefits on to baby through breast milk as well.
If you don't have all the ingredients on hand, chamomile tea alone can be very helpful in calming baby while teething. It can help calm mom and dad too, so make enough for everyone.
Frozen Cloth Teether
Teethers filled with hard, frozen liquid can damage baby's existing teeth and be too cold for baby's hands. Frozen, damp washcloths help but don't last long. Enter the teething bon bon.
Wrapped up like a piece of old-fashioned candy, knotted cotton ends are soaked in water then frozen to help soothe inflamed gums. The plush center, which is filled with naturally antibacterial wool, stays dry and warm enough for baby's hands to comfortably hold. It can be popped in the washing machine (with non-toxic soap) to clean between uses.
My baby positively loved this product. It is not easy to find in stores. We got ours from Amazon.com. A crafty mom could likely make her own. Be sure to use organic cloth and wool.
The Ubiquitous Sophie
Yes, she's everywhere, the sweet, overpriced toy giraffe from Europe. Like many other parents, I liked the idea of a natural latex chew toy, but balked when I saw the price. Luckily, a generous friend gave Sophie to us as a gift.
Now I know why parents around the globe pay the price that Sophie demands. Her shape and texture are just right for little mouths and hands, encouraging baby to exercise her gums and facilitate tooth emergence. The best part is that you don't have to worry about toxins and xenoestrogens as you do with typical plastic toys. Sophie is, in my opinion, the perfect teether.
Hyland's Oral Relief
I'm probably not telling you anything you don't already know here. Parents sing the praises of this homeopathic product wherever you go. Hyland's Oral Relief, formerly Hyland's Teething Tablets, have become so popular that you can get them just about anywhere including most grocery and drug stores.
While it may not be powerful enough to completely stop the pain, it remarkably reduces it and is fantastic for putting a baby back to sleep when she wakes with teething pain.
Always consult your doctor before giving any supplement to your baby.
A Note on Babies and Herbs
Certain herbs like chamomile and lemon balm are non-toxic and have a long history of use for babies and very young children. They are extremely gentle. That said, you should always consult a health professional before adding anything new to a baby's diet or starting a new remedy, even a homeopathic one. A health practitioner who knows you child will be able to advise on dosage.
These are teething remedies that have worked for my baby. All babies are unique, of course, and there are no one-size-fits-all teething remedies. Please feel free to leave a comment to let others know what has worked for you.
Amsterdam, J MD, Yimei, L MS, et al. (2013) "A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)." Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3600416/
WebMD. (2018) "German Chamomile" https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-951/german-chamomile
WebMD (2018) "Lemon Balm" https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-437/lemon-balm
WebMD (2018) "Lavender" https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-838/lavender
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Emily L Snelling
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on August 15, 2012:
Emily L Snelling (author) from Lake Tahoe, Nevada USA on August 15, 2012:
Chamomile can often help, especially with the crankiness and distress. It can help mom feel a little less stressed too! Make sure it is very strong for a medicinal effect. It should be almost a brown color and slightly bitter--not as pleasant as your usual cup of chamomile as a beverage tea, but much more effective. Homeopathic chamomila can also help with irritability. Just dissolve pellets in a spoonful of water and give to baby.
DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on August 15, 2012:
Useful hub. Must get my daughter to drink chamomile tea (she likes it) but we didn't know it would help my granddaughter with her teething, she has been quite tetchy with it. Thanks
Must have a think about Sophie the giraffe. Maybe you want to put a UK Amazon link on?