There are many milestones in a baby’s development. Some are exciting, others are worrying, and many are both! Teething often falls into that third category.
Your baby will eventually go through the teething process and likely need a teether. Let’s get into the most common and important questions related to teething and teething toys.
Teething is the process of teeth emerging through a baby’s gums for the first time. These teeth are usually called baby teeth or milk teeth. It can be quite painful for babies and cause frustration and irritation. It also gives them the urge to chew on things.
Not every baby shows the same signs and symptoms of teething. Some may not have any at all! Here are a few common signs that your baby might be teething:
- Sore, swollen, or red gums
- Crying more or being more fussy than usual
- A low-level fever (less than 38°C)
- Chewing or gnawing on their hands or other objects
- Flushed cheek
- A rash on their face
- Pulling on their ears
- Increased dribbling or drooling
- Changes in sleep patterns
When, why and Benefits of using a Teether
Here we discuss what are the benefits of using a teether. When to start using them and for how long. And the benefits of using them.
What Is the Purpose of Teether Toys?
A teether toy serves the purpose of giving your baby something safe to chew on while they teethe. The light pressure on the gums from chewing can ease pain and also distract a baby from discomfort.
Do babies need them?
Not every baby needs a teether. Some babies don’t experience any negative symptoms or feel the need to chew on anything. For babies who do need something, a teether (or some other safe alternative) should be given.
Benefits of Using a Teether
Teething can be a very uncomfortable experience for babies. And a worrying one for parents. Teethers offer many benefits during this time.
- The light pressure applied on the gums from chewing on a teether can help soothe tender, sore gums.
- Fun teether toys offer a distraction from the pain and discomfort.
- Purpose-made teethers have been designed to be easy for a baby to grip and put in their mouth.
- By giving a baby something for them to chew on, you can prevent them from chewing on things they shouldn’t.
At what month do babies start teething?
The average age babies start teething is between 4 and 7 months. Some babies start as early as 3 months and some as late as 12 months and beyond. Some babies even come out of the womb already having teeth!
When should babies start using teether toys?
You can start giving them to your baby when they start showing symptoms. Like swollen gums, irritability, pulling their ears and drooling more. Even if you’re not sure whether they’ve started teething yet, there’s no harm in offering them a teether.
Can I give my 3-month-old a teether?
If your baby is 3 months old and already showing signs of teething then, of course, yes! It will help ease their sore gums.
How long do babies use teethers?
You should stop using them when your baby’s teeth start emerging through the gums. If they continue using it afterwards, it could hinder the development of the teeth. And even push a tooth back into the gum. Babies usually finish before age 3. The most common range is between 24 and 36 months.
Why do babies drool when teething?
When a baby teethes, one of the first things parents notice is their baby drools and dribbles more. This is because your baby is producing more saliva than usual as the teeth get ready to push through the gums.
Drool, if not cleaned up properly, could lead to rashes on your baby’s cheeks, chin, and neck. Make it a habit to gently wipe those areas clean. It also helps to use a dribble bib and change it regularly.
Use and Types Of Teething Toys
How to Use Teethers
Teethers should be given to the baby for them to chew on. Babies should always be supervised when using them. Depending on what kind you give your baby, there could be a risk of choking. See our safety tips section for more information.
What Types Are Available?
There are many types of teethers available. From standard teether rings to mitts, bibs, and more! Different babies will have different preferences for what they like. It’s a good idea to try a few types to see what your baby likes the most.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, as new types are regularly introduced. But these are the most common ones you’ll find.
- Rings — These are the classic type of teether. They consist of a wooden ring that your baby can easily hold and chew. The ring might be made into a shape. Or have another part attached to it to make gripping easier.
- Toothbrushes — These aren’t for brushing teeth. But they resemble a toothbrush. They have a handle for the baby to hold. As well as a head with ridges and raised areas to provide relief when bitting down. These are great as it introduces your baby to a toothbrush early on in their life.
- Toys — These are toys that also double as teethers. One of the most popular ones is Sophie the Giraffe. “Teething Toy” can be used to describe any teether in general.
- Bibs — Like toys, teething bibs are a two-in-one deal. They serve as a bib but also have a silicone corner that the baby can chew on.
- Mitts — When babies start teething they like to put their hands in their mouths. A teething mitt is a little glove your baby can wear and bite down on instead of their fingers.
- Rattles — These are rings with rattling charms on them. A great way to entertain your baby as they chew on the ring.
- Teetherpop — Ever had a Ring Pop? This innovative teether takes that concept and turns it into a teething toy. It’s not worn as a ring though. It’s like a teething ring that your baby can hold except it has a nub at the top to chew on.
Natural Wooden Teethers for Babies
At My Little Love Heart, we handmake wooden teething rings. These are the bunny teether and have been tested and approved to Australian manufacturing standards.
These consist of a wooden ring with a soft, cotton fabric shape that helps the baby hold onto it. These are the materials we use in the different parts of the teethers:
Ring — The ring is 65mm, made of beechwood, and coated with Australian beeswax. They’ve been designed and made specifically for teething.
Bunny Ear — The bunny ears are made with a cotton fabric front and cotton bamboo mix backing. They are sewn together using cotton thread.
Other Teething Toys
Oli and Carol have some delightful teethers that we stock. They come in the shapes of fruits and veggies like the Ana the Banana. As well as little duck floaties and origami paper boats. These teethers are handmade from 100% natural rubber and can be used as a mould-free bath toy.
Natursutten has star-shaped teething rings made from 100% natural rubber. Natursutten is a brand that’s trusted by My Little Love Heart. And though we don’t stock their teethers, we stock their range of dummies.
The most well-known teether on the market is Sophie the Giraffe (or Sophie la Girafe in French). Like the above options, Sophie is made with 100% natural rubber. and also uses natural pigments for colour.
If you’ve already given birth, you may already have a teether: the Panadol ring! You get it in the free bounty bag from the hospital is a popular choice to use.
What kind of teether is best?
After going through all these types, you are wondering how to choose the best teether. Well, there’s no “Best Teether”. Each baby will have their preference of which they like the most.
But the first thing you should look for is that it’s safe. And has been approved too Australian Standards: AS/NZS ISO 8124.1:2002. It should be made from wood, natural rubber, or silicone.
Wooden teethers are our recommendation. They’re eco-friendly and antibacterial. They’re also very firm, providing a different sensory experience than other materials. The wood that is used is usually beech, which is naturally resistant to splintering.
When buying rubber teethers, ensure that they are made from 100% natural rubber. Silicone is manmade but safe if it meets Australian Standards. Make sure any silicone teethers you buy are made out of BPA-free, food-grade silicone.
Avoid teethers made of plastic. They are more likely to contain harmful compounds and are also more likely to break.
How many and where can I buy them?
How many you choose to buy will depend on how much your baby is teething.
When should you buy teethers?
You should buy them well before your baby starts teething. This is so that you’re not scrambling to find the right one when it happens. You can even buy teethers before your baby is born. A great way to get them is by asking on your baby registry. Or to be given them as a baby shower present.
How many do I need?
You only need two teethers — one for you to use while the other is being cleaned.
You could buy as many as you think is reasonable. But you should choose a few different types. You don’t know which one your baby will like the most. So it’s good to let them have some options!
Where can you buy teethers?
Teethers are one of the most universally-used baby products. So you can find them at any baby shop. We stock our own handmade wooden teethers, as well as natural rubber teethers from Oli and Carol.
Alternatives and what not to use
Other Items You Can Use as a Teether
Aside from purpose-made teethers, there are quite a few items that double as a teether. Here are some things you can use as a teething aid. Keep in mind these have not been tested to Australian Standards for use as teething toys.
- A dummy/pacifier can work as a teether since it’s made for your baby to put in their mouth.
- An organic washcloth can be wet and put in the fridge to cool. Then give it to your baby for them to chew on. When finished it can be used for bath time.
- Teething biscuits are biscuits that won’t crack or crumble when chewed. Instead, they dissolve slowly. You can buy them or make your own at home.
- Raw fruits and vegetables are another edible teething aid. They make a healthy choice of something to chew on. Carrot sticks and soft, cold watermelon are particularly good choices!
- A mesh feeder can be filled with frozen fruits, formula, breast milk, or frozen peas. Then given to a baby for them to suck the juices out of. It also makes for a good teether! This is ideal for a baby who hasn’t started on solids.
- Homemade popsicles made from all-natural ingredients can make for a nice, cold teether. This is also a great way for you to experiment with various foods to see what your baby likes.
- A baby toothbrush, not necessarily one intended for teething, can be gnawed on to soothe sore gums. Just make sure that the bristles aren’t coming loose or splaying.
- A weaning spoon can also be used. You’d likely already have a collection of them by the time teething comes around.
- Your finger can be used too. But not necessarily as something to chew on! Wash your hands and then use a finger to gently rub and massage your baby’s sore gums.
Whatever you give your baby as a teether be sure to supervise them at all times.
Options to Stay Away From
There are many teething treatments on the market. But not everything that’s advertised as such is safe.
- Liquid-filled teethers could tear and spill. And then your baby could end up ingesting the liquid or choking. Even if it’s filled with water, it’s not safe to ingest any component of a teether.
- Gel can be rubbed on your baby’s gums to numb the pain that they feel. But the effectiveness is dubious. Try other methods before trying teething gel. And if you do buy one, make sure it’s specifically made for babies. Also, ensure it does not contain lidocaine. Teething gels containing lidocaine have had to be discontinued under international standards. Stay away from gels containing benzocaine as well.
- Teething Necklaces are a type of necklace that your baby can wear and chew on. Teething necklaces are not recommended. Your baby could accidentally strangle itself. Or the necklace could break and they could swallow a bead and choke.
- Amber is another item that some parents use to relieve teething pain. It’s often used as beads on teething necklaces. It’s said that when amber is heated it can act as a pain reliever but this hasn’t been proven and so it’s not recommended. The amber beads and necklace itself are a choking hazard!
The most important aspect of any teether is its safety. In Australia and New Zealand, there is a mandatory safety standard for teething toys: AS/NZS ISO 8124.1:2002.
It goes into great detail on the requirements, testing methods, and labelling guidelines. All teethers on the market in Australia should meet (or exceed) this standard. If it’s not included on the label ask the retailer for a copy of their certification.
As for a few general teether safety rules, keep in mind the following:
- You should always supervise your baby when using a teether.
- Be sure that there are no small parts that could break off and become a choking hazard.
- Never tie a teether around your baby’s neck or make them wear a teether necklace.
- Inspect before and after each use. Remove them from use when they start showing signs of wear.
What is the safest teething toy?
There’s no “one” safest teether, but any you buy should;
- Meets or exceeds the safety standard AS/NZS ISO 8124.1:2002
- Is BPA-free
- Is made of wood, natural rubber, or silicone
- Has no small parts that could break off
- Is solid or hollow rather than liquid-filled
Are plastic teethers safe?
Plastic teethers are considered unsafe. Plastics can contain dangerous compounds that could leach out. They tend to break more easily than those made of natural rubber, silicone, or wood.
Is a wooden teether good for babies?
Wooden teethers are great for babies who like something hard to gnaw on when teething. Wood has natural antibacterial properties. Beech, which wooden teethers are usually made of is naturally resistant to splintering.
Are silicone teethers good for babies?
Yes, silicone teethers can be good for babies. Make sure that the teethers you buy are BPA-free and made of 100% food-grade silicone.
Can you use a pacifier as a teether?
Yes, you can use a pacifier or dummy as a teether. Some babies will suck on the pacifier as usual while others will chew on it. But once a pacifier has been chewed on, it shouldn’t be used as a dummy anymore. There are also ones available made from harder rubber or silicone which is good for teething.
Are water-filled teethers safe?
No, water-filled teethers (and any kind of liquid or gel-filled teethers) are not safe. If they break open, your baby could choke. It also wouldn’t be safe to ingest the liquid.
Storage, Care, and Maintenance
It’s a good idea to care for your teether so you can get as much use out of it as possible. Here we talk about how to care for an maintain your baby teethers.
How do you clean them?
Cleaning a teether is quite easy. Use a sponge with a mild soapy mixture of water and an anti-bacterial dish detergent. Wipe the teether thoroughly and then rinse off well. Dry it with a dish towel or leave it on a rack to dry.
If it’s a silicone teether, you can also wash it in the top rack of the dishwasher. Wooden and rubber teethers have to be hand-washed. As babies will be using them constantly be sure to clean them daily.
Can teethers be sterilised?
It will depend on the material of the teether if it can be sterilised. Check the manufacturer’s label for more information.
Anything that your baby will put into their mouth should be cleaned before the first use. You can sterilise some teethers by using a steriliser or by putting them in boiling water for 5 minutes. But check the label of your teether for suggested care and maintenance.
Can teethers go in the dishwasher?
Typically only silicone teethers can go in the dishwasher. Wooden and rubber teethers are not dishwasher-safe. Be sure to check the cleaning instructions for whichever one you buy.
Where do you store teethers?
Once a teether is washed and dried, it’s time to store it until the next use. You can store teethers in the fridge. Or you can keep them in a small, clean container or pouch.
We hope this article has helped you to choose the best teether.
This article was written by Jacqueline Samaroo. Jacqueline is a mother of 3 and a trained teacher with almost two decades of teaching experience under her belt. She has been operating professionally as a freelance writer for over eight years. During this time, she has written on a wide array of lifestyle themes.
The article has been peer-reviewed by Luisa Figueroa who is a mother of one and owner of My Little Love Heart.