I’m not one of those moms that freaks out over every. single. chemical. I’d say on the “natural health mom” scale I fall somewhere between “will vaccinate my child” (though, slowly, which I’ll explain in a future post), and “won’t use baby orajel”.
While I do try to keep things as natural, organic and chemical-free as possible, I recognize that the conventional solutions aren’t always the enemy; they’re not always that bad. But if there’s a more natural way — a way that’s just generally considered better for our LO, we’re going to go for that. Even if slightly less convenient. Even if the conventional solution isn’t that bad. Why not?
And, believe it or not, there’s usually a pretty good reason (if not several pretty good reasons) to opt for the natural solution anyway.
So let’s talk teething and Orajel…
[Click Here to Jump to List of Solutions]
The teething phase took me and my husband by surprise. Our son needed painful gum relief at just 4 months! We had the baby chew toys on hand and chilled them but they were not doing the trick. Fast forward 24 hours and it got bad, guys. Heartbreakingly bad. Run-to-the-store-at-11:30pm bad. In fact I ran to the store with such urgency that I hadn’t yet researched what to do! #MomFail -but all the books and articles said I had another month to research natural teething solutions. I was still on the chapter about the 4-month sleep regression and BAM!
I knew of only one solution when I headed to the store at 11:30pm — the solution we’ve all heard of for decades: Baby Orajel. I was 100% skeptical but being a first time mom with a child screaming in pain I — just like you — would have done ANYTHING to make him feel better. Add: When I gave it a quick search I was inundated with information and lengthy posts and too many options that I just did not have time to comb through. This was an emergency. (And this is actually why I added the option above to just jump down!)
So, the big question: Why am I so against Baby Orajel? After all, it’s been used for years upon years how bad could it be?
If you could have been a fly on the wall as I had this very conversation with my step dad. He was actually over for dinner the night after we had “the episode,” the first teething meltdown that resulted in the 11:30pm drugstore run. (It should be noted that my step dad is a dentist and very pro numb the mouth.) I said, “I just researched a lot about baby orajel and we’re not going to use it — I’m actually surprised they still make it!”
He responded with the firey you’re-always-too-worried-about-chemicals comments I’ve come to expect and love, so I pulled up the research. Upon reading it he said, “Oh that can’t be true, Casie, why would they still sell it?!!??!!”
My response: EXACTLY!
And the research I’m referring to isn’t speculation on some crunchy organic-pushing website — it’s on the website of the FDA in addition to many others. It says:
But the use of benzocaine gels and liquids for mouth and gum pain can lead to a rare but serious—and sometimes fatal—condition called methemoglobinemia, a disorder in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream is greatly reduced. In the most severe cases, says FDA pharmacist Mary Ghods, R.Ph., methemoglobinemia can result in death.
And children under 2 years old appear to be at particular risk.
Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first warned about potential dangers in 2006, the agency has received 29 reports of benzocaine gel-related cases of methemoglobinemia. Nineteen of those cases occurred in children, and 15 of the 19 cases occurred in children under 2 years of age, says FDA pharmacist Kellie Taylor, Pharm.D., MPH.
And the warning is echoed over and over. On other FDA pages, on Center4Research, on BabyCenter, and on Mayo Clinic. And while the science says enough, I’d like to also point out that it must be SO WEIRD for a baby when suddenly their mouth goes numb and they don’t know why. I couldn’t imagine!
Okay… the solutions. Here are the 3 best natural alternatives to baby orajel that my research turned up. There are others I’ve heard of that are better for babes when they’re older but — I only have one kid and he’s only 4.5 months, so I can’t quote, unquote recommend what I haven’t tried. As he grows I’ll be sure to fill you in!
(#1 is my favorite!! I think you’ll agree.)
As always, top, bottom, left right.
1. Fruit Feeders.
These are the best!!! I tried NatureBond first and they were great. I kind of want to get these lideema one’s next though because I like that the handles are bubbly. (#sensorystimulateallday)
As you may have seen on my IG, I like to put up some avocado and then freeze it. This way I always have avocado on hand to pop into a fruit feeder as needed. Jacks LOVES these. They not only help him feel better but they allow him to gnaw on something that’s low sugar and nutritious — the fats in avocado are particular good for babes and can even help them stay fuller longer.
The one word of caution I give on these is that the parts are little and there are many &mdash the nipple(s), the a little ring that holds the nipple down, some other little topper that pushes the fruit inside down. You just have to be on your game when cleaning and storing these.
2. Rings + Fabric.
What’s great about the DIY one is that you can remove that fabric, wet it and then put it in the fridge for a little. The babe will appreciate the combination of pressure and chill! The wood that these are made with are untreated and have passed CE/EN71-3/EN71-2 certificate. And the fabric has crinckle inside so, two birds.
3. Camilia Teething Drops.
Jacks seems to really like these and I love that they’re so easy to use. We can keep them on hand for when we’re on the go and they seem to work like a charm! Unlike other natural herbal solutions, such as clove, these can be given to babe as early as one month old. (Clove isn’t recommended until your LO is 2 years.)
Camilia teething drops are basically a blend of German Chamomile plant oils, Chinese rhubarb plant oils and Poke plant oils. Together, they do the trick. And they must be pretty tasty too because Jacks gets excited to see the packet coming at him now!
*WHEN BABE IS OLDER*
My browsing turned up some other fun and reportedly effective options to consider for when your LO is a little older.
The Babyganics Benzocaine-Free Gel Teething Pods are said to be great! And I can fully support the ingredients. They contain clove as an active ingredient so I’m holding off a little, but obviously it’s a great natural alternative to the benzo-business. The directions say consult doctor if your LO is under 4 months old, so I’ sure they’re fine (and made for!) your 6, 7, 8 mo. old but I figure if you’re having success with the other options why go there?
Apparently the Nuby teething tablets are great, too, but obviously not a good solution if choking is still a concern (then again, I feel like choking is always a concern? I’m a grown “adult” years old and still worry for my life every time I drive and eat at the same time…)
Lastly, THIS GADGET! I can’t wait until Jacks can steady his hands and hit the bullseye every time. This fruit feeder looks like a really good one and can hold a little more food in the reserve. Genius!
Side Note: I DO NOT endorse teething necklaces. The theory is that these amber teething necklaces, which they make for baby or mommy, release succinic acid found in Baltic amber, which is said to relieve pain. But A- I’m not putting a necklace around my babe’s neck (it would get lost in the rolls! also it just doesn’t feel safe). And B- selfish mom moment, but I wear too many necklaces and this is not a habit I want to encourage. It’s actually a habit I’m currently trying to break!
I have also heard essential oils work great, especially chamomile and copaiba. It’s not that I am against these by any stretch, I just don’t have time to test and mix and worry about concentrations, etc. If interested in going this route there are some awesome tutorials on using them for babe but read carefully cause many say “not for children under 2” or “make sure you use [this much] to dilute” and so on. So many kudos to the mamas who have the time and patience and energy to do this! Maybe some day 🙂
Good Luck out there if you’re in the midsts of teething meltdowns! Just remember to parent with compassion. XOXO!