I’m not sure which makes me more want to cry more: Realizing my toddler is teething again or getting the phone notification that we’re entering another Wonder Week. If I had my choice, I think I’d pick teething. With Wonder Weeks, all you can do is love your little one through the mental growth spurt, but (thankfully) there are plenty of natural teething remedies.
I don’t profess natural living just for the sake of it. So what’s the reasoning behind natural teething remedies?
Many of the conventional teething remedies can be toxic. Did you know that for the last ten years the FDA has warned against using benzocaine (the active ingredient in Orajel™ and many other teething gels) for children under the age of two? It frustrates me to no end that we have knowledge that a product is not safe for littles ones, yet it is still available on the shelves for unknowing parents to purchase. It’s simply not possible to keep on top of every warning, so why even make these potentially toxic teething remedies an option?
And, while there are times for using pain killers in little ones, the potential side effects are enough to keep me from using them for something like teething (acetaminophen is rough on the liver and ibuprofen is rough on the kidneys).
So then, what natural teething remedies for babies do I use and recommend?
Natural Teething Remedies
When my daughter first started teething, around six months or so, we used Hyland’s Baby Teething Gel (they also make tablets). This worked great for us for the first eight teeth. We used it in combination with non-toxic teethers like Sophie the Giraffee (she loved this smaller Sophie that she could more easily get in her mouth), and didn’t find teething to be too terrible.
A few months ago, we were “lucky” and the one year molars and canines began to emerge around the same time. Whatever super powers the gel had when my daughter was an infant were gone. My poor girl was so cranky and uncomfortable during the day, and bedtime and nightime were brutal for everyone.
After doing much research, and reviewing all the natural remedies that I could find, I decided to try chamomile. Luckily, we found great success with it. If we hadn’t, my plan was to next try an amber teething necklace, of which I’ve heard mixed reviews.
Chamomile Tea for Baby Teething
Why chamomile for babies? Chamomile has nervine properties that make it supportive of the nervous system. It’s known to be a relaxing herb and to reduce pain in general. And it’s able to do this without the effects of sedatives. Here is a great review of chamomile’s use throughout history and in current scientific studies.
I didn’t actually expect chamomile to work, it seemed much to simple. But to my surprise, we found that it is a natural remedy that definitely provides relief. Another win for natural living!
So, you’re probably wondering how to give your teething infant or toddler chamomile, since sitting down with them and enjoying a hot up of tea is not in the cards. There are several ways, and I’ve tried them all.
A tincture is the easiest was to take advantage of the soothing properties of chamomile for teething. I purchased a bottle of the Herb Pharm tincture and was pretty much sold on chamomile within the hour. To administer, I added her dose of tincture to a cup mixed with an ounce or two of water. My daughter is not a big fan of liquids that don’t come straight from mom, so I keep the tincture very concentrated to get her to drink as much as possible. Here’s an informative piece if you are concerned about the use of alcohol in a tincture for children.
I might play around with making my own tincture at some point to save money (because it’s also great for calming adult nerves and relaxation), but for now the $12 bottle is a convenient way to have a natural teething remedy on hand at all times. It also is the easiest of the options for traveling.
Chamomile tea is a less expensive way of administering the herb, though I did find it slightly less effective. It worked, it just didn’t seem to last as long as the tincture. (Of course there are about a million factors in a toddler’s mood on any given day, so take my results with a grain of salt.) You can simply brew chamomile tea, let it cool, and provide it to your child. This will work if your kiddo is a big liquid drinker. Since mine is not, I brewed concentrated tea instead.
To brew concentrated tea:
- Heat 8 ounces of water to just before boiling (if it boils, don’t worry, keep going!)
- Add three level tablespoons of loose tea or eight tea bags
- Steep for 4 – 8 minutes (some kids prefer weak tea, so starting with a 4 minute brew is not a bad idea)
- Strain tea or discard bags and cool tea
- Store in covered container in fridge for about a week
Two tablespoons of concentrated tea is equivalent to one 8 oz cup of tea. I serve it to my daughter on it’s own, but you can also serve diluted in water. Concentrated tea is a convenient way to make a batch of tea to have on hand, rather than brewing and cooling each cup separately.
If you’re breastfeeding, drink a few mugs of chamomile tea yourself and you may see benefits for your little one.
A few months ago, I had never heard of a hydrosol. A hydrosol is the leftover fragrant water from the essential oil distillation process. It has the beneficial properties of an oil, but it is much less concentrated, making it safe for use with little ones. (I’m big on essential oils safety for little ones.)
Because it is diluted, a hydrosol is safe to use internally. I was curious about it’s efficacy, so I purchased a bottle and found that it was most useful for us at night. When my daughter woke up with teething pain, I had no luck getting her to drink the tincture or tea. But I could spray the hydrosol on my finger and rub it directly on her gums with no problem (or as little problem as there can be with a teething toddler in middle of the night).
Chamomile popsicles are a fun way to incorporate chamomile for the teething toddler crowd. As the weather gets warmer, I’ve been giving these to my daughter and she loves them. They come with an added bonus of keeping her occupied for fifteen minutes or so! The pops are super easy to make, and you can store a bunch in your freezer ahead of time to have on hand when the teething irritability shows up in full force.Looking for natural teething remedies? Try chamomile for it's relaxing and pain relieving benefits.Click To Tweet
Natural Teething Remedies I Recommend Avoiding
If you google natural teething remedies for babies, there are a few that you will come across frequently that I recommend avoiding. I shared above the concern with homeopathic gels, but I’m specifically referring here to using essential oils for teething.
While chamomile essential oil is great and child safe, I do not recommend using chamomile oil (or ANY oil) internally. It’s often suggested to rub a few drops of chamomile oil on a child’s gum to relieve teething, but I talk about why not to use essential oils internally, especially for children, in my essential oils safety post.
Another suggestion is to dilute chamomile essential oil and rub it externally on the jawline. While this is probably less potentially harmful than internal use, it is recommend not to use any essential oils topically on children until the age of two, unless it’s an acute situation. Given that there are many other ways to benefit from chamomile’s nerving properties without using an essential oil, I can’t agree that there is an acute need to use an essential oil in this case.
If you do want to use chamomile essential oil for it’s calming effects, diffuse around your teething child for 20 – 30 minutes at a time.
I’d also recommend against using clove essential oil for relieving teething pain. It’s commonly used for tooth pain in adults, but according to Essential Oil Safety, it can be hypersensitive for children and is not recommended to be used for those under two. It is quite strong and requires a very low dilution rate for safe use. Again, given the other options for safe natural teething remedies, I don’t see the point in using something that is potentially problematic.