The drooling, the fussiness, the whole-fist-in-mouth episodes synonymous with those early months – all of this screams nothing but teething. I know what you feel like – and truth be told, there’s only a few things worse than seeing your baby uncomfortable or in pain like that.
Some babies start teething early, oftentimes at just two months of age. Lots of newborns out there are living proof of this! However, that’s more of an exception rather than the rule. Generally speaking, most babies start teething at between 3 to 6 months of age.
Unfortunately, teething can place quite the brunt on your little one. Most babies become unsettled and upset going through this phase, and it can take quite some effort to help them find their Zen again. Luckily though, there’s lots of simple remedies you can put to use to help make this phase a more bearable one – both for you and your baby.
Apart from natural concoctions that have stood the test of time and have proven just how great they are for relieving sore gums, there’s also a whole bunch of great teething toys specifically designed for babies to nibble (or bite with full force!) on.
At a time when everything goes straight to the mouth – edible or not, clean or otherwise – a toy aimed for the mouth is an easy fix for what is oftentimes a very challenging teething situation.
In this article, we’ll explain what teething toys are and how they work, whether or not your baby really needs a teething toy, when you’re best off buying ones, what to look out for and what to avoid when shopping for ones, and how to make sure your little one stays safe when using them.
Best Teething Toys for Babies – a Quick Look at Our Top 10 Recommendations
Note: When clicking on any of the above links, you’ll go to the product listing pages on Amazon, where you can read further information, see current prices and read customer reviews.
- Baby Banana Infant Training Toothbrush and Teether
- Nuby Ice Gel Teether Keys
- Nuby Silicone Teethe-EEZ Teether with Bristles
- Safety 1st Ellie Elephant Baby Teether by Mombella
- Bebe Cookie Teethers & Gum Massagers
- The First Years Star Teething Blanket
- Bumkins Nintendo Silicone Teether
- Vulli Sophie la Girafe
- Nuby Soothing Teething Mitten with Hygienic Travel Bag
- Hombae Wooden Teether Rings
Best Teething Toys for Babies – a More Detailed Look at Our Top 10 Recommendations
Now that you have a much better idea about what teether toys are, how they can be miracle workers for both you and your little one, as well as what you should look for when shopping for them – let’s have a more detailed look at what we believe to be some of the best teething toys for babies on the market today.
Baby Banana Infant Toothbrush and Teether
The amount of gear needed in child rearing is never-ending. We’ve actually had to dedicate a whole room to boxes upon boxes of baby stuff stored for any eventual sibling or relative.
It’ll actually be a huge relief when we do free up space – make space sister, the baby gear is in!
One thing I do know for a fact, though, is that it’s a huge plus when the items we buy can be multi purposed and are actually functional and purposeful for more than a month of baby’s first years.
The Banana Teether doubles up as both a teether and an infant toothbrush, perfect for hygienic care of gums and looking after those first early teeth.
As a teether, it also has quite a few pluses going for it.
First things first, it’s easy to grab, with handles mimicking those on a sippy cup. It’s also great for your little one’s development, seeing that when the time comes for a real sippy cup, they’ll be more than comfortable holding it.
The top end features nice and soft silicone bristles to soothe sore gums; it’s also safely made, which means that there’s almost no chance of any mouth injuries with this teether.
It’s dishwasher and freezer safe, too. So, if your munchkin is super fussy, and you know that not any regular teether would do, simply place this one in the freezer. The cool feel of the bristle on achy gums offers great relief.
The Baby Banana Teether is best for babies aged three to twelve months.
- Helps baby grow accustomed to holding things properly, making it easier to introduce a sippy cup later on.
- Soothing bristles also help introduce your baby to toothbrushing.
- Because the banana head is a bit on the long side, younger babies can gag if allowed to use it without supervision. As long as you’re supervising your little one’s usage of this baby teether, everything should be just fine.
Nuby Ice Gel Teether Keys
Please tell me it’s not only my kids who love to suck and gnaw on germ-ridden things? Keys, phones, and remote controls all have to be kept under lock and key in our household.
They’re simply a magnet for frustrated little ones who want to munch on something cool and hard. Unfortunately, keeping said items hygienic all the time is almost impossible, no matter how hard we try.
Cue in safe alternatives!
The Nuby keys teether offers a great alternative to the usual biting on hands or inappropriate things. Their colorful key design is attractive to little ones, as is the sore-gum relief they have to offer.
If you’re fed up of buying teethers, only to be met with disinterest from your child, then this is might very well be your new go-to item. It’s one they would actually want to play with, as well as chew and suck on.
The keys are also filled with non-toxic PurIce gel, a technology that stays cooler for a longer period of time, providing gentle cooling to sore gums.
Both sides of the keys are textured, providing a cool resilient surface that soothes and stimulates safely. Simply pop in the fridge (not freezer) and offer to your little one.
If you’re looking for teethers for use at home, in the car, at grandma’s, in the stroller, and any one of the other million places you’ll be at in the foreseeable future – you can split the ring, leaving you with three teethers for the price of one!
This also helps tremendously on the grabbing front, in case your baby finds the whole set too tricky or too heavy to hold at once.
- Multisurface teething options with diverse textures that reach the front, middle and back teeth.
- Helps with coordination, and is visually stimulating.
- Not freezer safe, so cannot be placed in a freezer for quick cooling. The teether will get too hard in the freezer, and can become harmful to your baby.
- Cannot be sterilized.
Nuby Silicone TeeThe-EEZ Teether
One of the biggest headaches when out and about (and even at home) is safely and hygienically storing your baby’s teether when it’s not in use.
Unfortunately, many times, this involves a whole lot of plastic in the likes of Ziploc bags, as many teether options do not come with carry cases specifically designed to hold them.
This isn’t the case with the Nuby Silicone TeeThe-EEZ teether, though. It comes with a hygienic carry case to keep the teether clean when not in use.
The teether itself offers multiple chewing surfaces, perfectly sized and shaped for optimal control.
It can technically be used from birth, a huge plus if your little one starts teething earlier than their peers (as mine did). With most teether options recommended for three months and upwards, it’s good to know that top notch options for younger babies do exist.
Apart from this, thanks to the bristles this teether sports, it can also clean your baby’s gums and keep them in tip top condition. It easily reaches both the front and back teeth.
Made of soft silicone, this teether is ergonomic and bends easily, quickly responding to your little one’s needs.
It can be effortlessly cleaned in the dishwasher, but do not attempt to sterilize it. I did, unfortunately, sterilize a non-sterilizable teether once, and I ended up with a green glob of slime to clean up. Lessons learned, so don’t do the same mistake I did!
- Lovely carry case that makes it easy to store when not in use.
- Ergonomic design.
- Might be difficult to get it really cool, even if left in the fridge for some time.
Safety 1st Ellie Elephant Baby Teether
Babies go through many teething stages. First comes the furiously rubbing hand against gums stage, followed soon after by the bearing down on said poor hand.
As the first tooth spurts out, comes even more gnawing – this time with an ouch-factor if your little one tries to soothe herself on your hand or, way worse off, your breast.
Not all teethers are ideal for all teething stages (cue in more gear -argh!) – but, the Safety 1st Ellie Elephant Teether is.
Admittedly, it has a super weird shape, and spotting the elephant in the design takes some serious imagination. But, with that being said, it’s functional and does exactly what it’s supposed to do.
What’s best about this is its top end, which resembles a pacifier but instead sports a bristled end that provides immediate sweet teething relief.
Thanks to this shape, it’s super easy for your little one to bite on, and the handles also makes holding it much more straightforward than the case with other teethers on the market today.
This teether also skips on the commonly-slightly-big rounded shape that most others come in.
I’m sure rounded features are the bane of any teething baby’s existence, as in no way can they reach the achy part of their gums. This teether prevents this.
It’s also dishwasher and freezer safe, and made of 100% soft and safe silicone.
As for safety, it’s short, so there’s almost no way that your baby will gag themselves using it. (Still, that doesn’t mean they should use it unsupervised).
- Can be used well into toddlerhood.
- Very easy and comfortable to use.
- Features multiple textured surfaces for more sensory exploration, and works well for back teeth too.
- You’ll have to check the teether between each use to make sure that no area is on the brink of tearing. Unfortunately, it’s not the toughest baby teether out there, and some parents reported that their baby was able to bite right into it.
Hard and Soft Bebe Cookie Teether & Gum Massager
The material a teether you’re buying for your baby is made of definitely matters. It’s one item that would spend most of its lifespan in your little one’s mouth, so ensuring that it contains no nasty chemicals is essential.
The Bebe Cookie teether is not only mouthwatering to look at, but it’s also safe. If this doesn’t make you crave an Oreo right this very second, I don’t know what will!
This Bebe teether is made of high-end organic food grade silicone. Food grade silicone is highly resistant to damage, so your little one can really bite away to their little heart’s abandon without causing any notable damage to it.
It also doesn’t harden, crack, peel or crumble, making it safe for consistent gnawing.
Silicone is made from an abundant natural resource. It’s non-toxic, odorless, and unlike some plastics, contains no BPA, latex, or phthalates. Plus, when your little one’s old enough to no longer need chewing toys, you can dispose of it safely without placing excessive weight on the environment.
The Bebe cookie teethers are 2.5” in diameter and come in different consistencies to best soothe your baby. This particular pack contains one hard and one soft teether to satisfy your little one whatever her need.
This sensory teether toy was made specifically to help stimulate visual, motor and sensory development.
If picking up teething toys and pacifiers is the bane of your existence, it’s good to know that these cookie teethers come with a detachable cord that makes them easy to affix to a stroller or for a parent to wear.
However, as with any toy with a cord, it shouldn’t be attached to the teether when your little one is unsupervised.
- International lifetime warranty.
- No artificial enhancers used.
- Features ridges help with soothing gums.
The First Years Teething Blanket
Aren’t kids walking around with their favorite blanky the cutest? Most parents would say yes, but speak to one who’s child simply refuses to be a centimeter away from their blanket, and you’d be privy to a million and one reasons why it’s highly nonfunctional.
If your little one’s too attached to their blanky and uses it for everything from soothing themselves, chomping on it, to playing – The First Years teething blanket is an excellent option to consider.
This blanket was specifically made for teething – and, a blanky and a teether that also makes baby-approved sounds is a definite winner in our books.
There’s nothing more frustrating than watching your little one furiously gnawing at a regular blanket like a little puppy, without getting the satisfaction or gum comfort they’re seeking – but all of that changes with this baby teething blanket.
The First Years teething blanket features a colorful design with diverse textures and surfaces. It’s lightweight and easy to grasp, just as a regular blanket is.
If that wasn’t enough, it also squeaks and some parts of it make a crinkling sound, perfect for getting your little one’s attention and distracting them when you need to most.
Experience has personally taught me that babies far prefer loud toys over silent ones, which is another reason why parenthood is both messy and loud.
It also features an attached loop to prevent getting a full workout from picking it up from the floor when out and about – and we all know how much babies tend to drop their teethers on the floor, time and time again.
You can attach it to the stroller – a much better option than having your little one ruin the handlebar leather with their tiny (yet mighty) teeth. Been there, done that, and it’s not fun at all!
- Original concept; goes beyond regular teethers.
- Easy for little ones to hold.
- Ideally, it should be hand washed rather than placed in the washing machine. Use a gentle and chemical-free detergent when trying to get it cleaned, as your little one will be sucking on this.
- Since it’s fabric, it tends to get wet easily.
- Best air dried only. If your little one really takes to this teether, he has to wait for some time until it’s available again. Or, you can just buy multiple units and solve the problem that way.
Bumkins Nintendo Silicone Teether
The designs that toy and baby gear makers come up with nowadays are quite impressive, to say the least. Some, like the Bumkins Nintendo Silicone Teether, take you on a ride down memory lane.
This teether comes in the shape of the Nintendo game boy. If your baby loves this teether the same way we used to love that gaming console, then they could be set for hours.
Alright, alright – they won’t be able to play actual games on this one like we used to with the real Nintendo, but it’s still entertaining enough for them to keep busy for a long time.
The unique design of this teether makes it a great baby shower gift, especially for an unsuspecting new dad. Its fun and functional design makes it a loved-piece by babies and parents alike.
The teether features a textured back that provides soft pressure on gums, and your baby can also explore the shapes on the front of the teether.
For the uninitiated little one who’s more accustomed to seeing mobile phones rather than Nintendos, this looks and feels like a phone. Yes, we’re getting old, folks – and yes, your phone is safe from drool.
- Can be chilled for added teething relief.
- Can be boiled for sterilization purposes and added hygiene – a huge advantage, seeing that most teethers manufactured these days will melt if you try to do this.
- Bacteria-resistant – great when considering this will go in your baby’s mouth most of the time.
- Does not contain any petroleum-based plastics or toxic chemicals.
- Some people might find it a bit difficult to clean the button areas. While they won’t easily come off, there’s a gap between each button and the body of the teether that might make it a bit difficult for people to thoroughly clean at times.
Sophie the Giraffe Teether
Sometimes, in the expansive realm of baby things comes a product that millions immediately fall in love with. And, we’d be lying through our teeth if we say we never fell for one such item ourselves.
The Sophie the Giraffe teether is definitely on top of that list. If there ever was an artsy teether, this would be it. Luckily, it’s also safe and great for a little munchkin’s development.
Admittedly, this teether is more on the expensive side when compared to other options available on the market these days, but it’s worth the higher price tag if you were to ask me.
It does make a lovely baby shower or new baby gift if you’re searching for something to give a family member or friend, and its packaging is beautiful.
Sophie the Giraffe has been in production for the last 55 years, which speaks volumes about it, really.
This teether is easy for your little one to hold – babies can grab it either from the feet, the neck, or the head, and they’re all a good width for little hands.
They can choose where they feel like biting – the bristles on the neck are an added plus.
It’s made from 100% natural rubber that also smells nice. The scent of natural rubber is lovely, and it helps your little one identify the teether and soothe herself with it. The rubber is from the Hevea tree, and is phthalates and BPA-free.
The way Sophie the Giraffe is designed, coupled with its soft texture and numerous chewable parts, stimulates soothing physiological and emotional responses.
Each piece is uniquely hand painted with food paint. The paint does fade with time, but it’s safe and poses no risks whatsoever to your little one.
This teether actually comes with a QR code to authenticate your Sophie, so you can be sure that you bought the real deal and not a fake knock-off.
- Lovely smell that babies love and are attracted to.
- Easy to get little hands around the giraffe’s neck and feet.
- Squeaks – a favorite feature that has stood the test of time for many babies.
- Younger babies will need some help using Sophie the Giraffe. It’s slightly long for young babies, which means it can be more difficult to control.
- Neck area is somewhat weak, and I’m always checking to see if it’s tearing apart on my baby’s units.
- Can’t be submerged in water, which means that cleaning it is a bit tricky. Soaking in water will stop the squeaking mechanism. Instead, you’ll need to wipe it down with a cloth and mild soap.
- Easier to drop on the floor than other baby teethers.
Nuby Teething Mitten
Plenty of teethers are annoying for babies to use simply because they do not provide the appropriate hold for a baby’s developing motor skills.
For younger babies, offering help with holding their teether, or picking it up from the floor more times that we can count is pretty normal.
It’s these reasons (and much more) that make the Nuby teething mitten a great option to consider.
To start off, this is a marvelous design idea, even more so when considering how kids love to put everything in their mouth. Sometimes, even when you present a teether, they would still prefer to munch on their hand as they can control it better.
With the Nuby mitten, all you have to do is place it on your little one’s hand and allow them to gnaw away at it. There’s no chance of it falling off, or the baby being unable to direct it to their mouth.
It sports multiple teething surfaces, and the end bit is heavenly for babies. Another plus is that it acts like a regular mitten, preventing scratches on the face.
It can be worn both on the right and left hand, depending on your baby’s preference.
This mitten teether comes with a hygienic travel bag that can also be used when washing the mitten in the washing machine.
- Great for babies who are too young to hold a teether. Yes, some babies start teething super early – sorry mama!
- Machine washable.
- Makes a crinkling sound to garner more interest.
- Since it’s fabric and will find itself in your baby’s mouth for most of the time, it’s bound to get wet and icky. Cleaning it involves a wash, so there’s no quick wipe down and go option.
- As per the manufacturer’s instructions, it can only be used from 3 months on, as it’s quite big to go in smaller mouths.
- Not something you can cool off in the fridge, because your baby’s hand will also get uncomfortably cold wearing the mitten.
- Not all babies will take to having something on their hand to wear, especially older ones. So, it can be a hit or miss at times.
Hombae Wooden Teether Rings
Wooden toys are seriously in fashion right now, and for a very good reason.
They’re beautifully timeless, last much longer than their plastic counterparts, and are much kinder on the environment. What’s there not to love about them?
We did recently build up a lovely collection in our house – that is until my baby turned into an opinionated toddler and we had to give in to plastic Peppa Pigs and Barbies …
The Hombae Wooden Teether Rings are beautiful little items that provide much-needed soothing to achy gums.
They’re made of untreated, unsealed beech wood. Natural wood is non-toxic and chemical-free, and has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It doesn’t attract dust, and a huge plus is that bacteria cannot survive on its surface.
The teethers come in a convenient pack of four to keep your little one excited about a ‘new’ toy every single time.
They’re well designed for comfort and ease of biting and gnawing, and once your little one is past the teething age, they can easily be used as a toy.
The package makes for a wonderful environmentally-friendly gift, too. There’s something special about wooden toys – they’re timeless and can quickly become a keepsake to pass from one generation to the next!
- Attaches easily to pacifier clips.
- Right size for a little one to hold on their own, without presenting a choking hazard.
- Safe and won’t splinter.
- Environmentally friendly – these natural wooden teethers are biodegradable, which means they leave no negative impact on the environment when it’s time to dispose of them.
- Excessive dropping can actually break the teether.
Baby Teething Toys 101
So, what exactly are teether toys? In short, these are toys that your baby can safely chew on to relieve gum soreness from soon-to-emerge teeth. Biting on a teether provides sweet relief, as it helps break down some of the gum tissue and helps the tooth to grow out of the gum.
Nowadays, there’s countless options for teething toys that you can pick and choose from, a far cry from the wet cloth on baby’s gums used years ago.
However, you should know that not all chewing toys out there are equally suitable for your little one, and – even worse – some of them might not be safe to use.
Teethers can be made of wood, rubber, silicone, plastic or fabric – but finding the best one for your baby can sometimes be a trial and error process, dependent on their specific likes and dislikes, as well as what proves to be most effective for them.
Does My Baby Need Teething Toys?
As noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), teething occasionally causes mild irritability, crying, a low-grade temperature, drooling, as well as an urgency to chew on something hard.
In other words, teething can bring on extreme fussiness in your little one – and we all know how challenging it can get to bring happiness to a fussy baby!
To counter the swell and tenderness of the gums around your baby’s new teeth, the AAP suggests gently rubbing or massaging their gums with a clean finger. Another option is to massage your little one’s gums using a damp cloth, as this will work to relieve some of the discomfort.
In other words, this basically means that there are alternatives to teething toys if you would prefer not to use them – for any reason that may be. Nonetheless, the AAP agrees that teething toys remain a helpful tool to have.
Take it from me, any help you can get during your baby’s teething phase is going to be useful. We’re not just talking about your baby’s comfort levels, we’re also talking about making all of this less stressful to you – the parent.
Why Should I Buy Teether Toys for My Baby?
If you’re still unsure about whether or not you really need to buy teether toys for your baby, the following is a list of reasons why you should definitely consider doing so.
Unlike some of the other methods outlined above, a baby teether toy can give more control to your little one as they can move it and bite on it as they please – stopping when they feel like they’re good to go, and intensifying when they feel like they need to dig in deeper.
Hygiene & Safety
Let’s face it, babies put everything in their mouth.
This is actually an integral part of your child’s development, as this encourages them to use their tongue, building awareness of their mouth in the process. It also helps with speech development.
Having a designated toy specifically made to go in your baby’s mouth is a great alternative to having them chomp on just about anything that comes into sight – clean or dirty, safe or not.
The good news is that most teething toys made nowadays can be cleaned easily. There’s more peace of mind in knowing that your baby is chewing on something clean that’s been designed for this very purpose, rather than any random bite-worthy object they find lying around.
Sanitizing wipes are also going to become your teething toys’ best friends, so get ready for that!
Fun and Entertaining
Teething toys are fun and appeal to babies. After all, they’re toys!
Having something that makes them happy – at a time when all they wish to do is cry their pain away – will prove to be very effective.
Not only do teething toys provide comfort and entertainment to your baby, they also offer some very important peace to you. I think I speak for you as well when I say we all appreciate a moment of peace and quiet, right?
When Is My Baby Ready for Teething Toys?
According to the AAP, most babies get their first tooth at six months of age. However, teething can start much earlier than this, as the baby’s gums prepare for the emerging teeth.
Most babies start teething at around three months of age, so it’s a good idea to have a set of teething toys lying in wait for when the first signs of teething appear.
As a benchmark, you will probably be fine buying a set of teething toys when your baby is two months of age. As we always say, being prepared early on beforehand is key to a less stressful parenting life.
If you’re super eager to get everything in order before the baby makes their grand entrance, then that’s completely fine as well.
There’s no hard and fast rule that you shouldn’t buy a teething toy before your baby is born.
You might wish to steer away from packing it in your hospital bag though – I’m guilty as charged, thinking it would be great for my newborn to have a toy ‘to play with’. Well, that’s first-time parenthood for you! Anyone relate?
Are Teething Toys Safe for Babies?
There’s no definitive “yes or no” answer to this question.
When used properly and when the right teething toy is purchased, then yes, teether toys are perfectly safe for babies. On the other hand, if misused or the wrong type is used, then teething toys can put your baby’s safety and well-being at risk.
Unfortunately, the market nowadays is ridden with items advertised as teething toys – but which have not been appropriately tested or cleared. It’s very important that you do your research on these products beforehand and steer away from them, even if they look absolutely gorgeous and seem like they’ll do an excellent job with your kid.
If you’re not sure about how exactly you can tell good from bad, don’t worry – that’s what we’re here to help out with!
The sections below outline what you should look out for in a baby teether toy, as well as what you should avoid in teething toys you buy for your baby.
What Different Types of Teething Toys Are There?
As with just about every other baby item you’ll need over the months and years, there’s endless types to choose from.
Here’s what you’ll very probably come across when shopping for baby teething toys.
Silicone Teething Rings
Silicone baby teethers are simple, round, and effective.
Silicone is often dishwasher safe and can be easily sanitized, which makes it an excellent option for parents who don’t want to (or can’t) spend an eternity on hand-washing their baby’s teethers.
The round shape also makes it easy for your little one to get a good grip as well.
If you’re looking to get a teething ring specifically designed for emerging back teeth, though, then this might not be a suitable option for you. A round teething ring makes it difficult for your baby to reach sore gums at the back.
Cotton Teething Rattles
Options made with organic cotton are now available, making this option a kinder one overall.
They’re soft and cuddly and can also double up as a soother if needed.
The only downside that comes to mind is that they can easily get wet as your baby drools all over them, and multiple washes won’t likely be very kind to their structure and firmness.
Wooden Teething Toys
Any wood used for teether toys should specifically be made so that it does not splinter.
Colored wooden teething toys are nowadays painted with safe paint too, so there’s no worrying that your baby is sucking on nasty chemicals. Always double check first that this in indeed the case for whatever painted teething toy you’re considering buying for your baby, though, as you can never be too sure.
They’re a great environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic teething toys and are also very easy on the eye.
The downside to them is that younger babies can (and tend to) easily drop the teether on their face, and wood is considerably heavier than plastic.
Some teethers are filled with liquid, providing the option for extra cooling in the fridge or freezer.
While they can be helpful in soothing teething pain, you should also be aware of the possibility that your little one will bite through and expose the liquid.
It is for this reason that the AAP does not recommend their use.
What Should I Look for When Buying Baby Teething Toys?
First things first, The AAP recommends firm rubber teething rings. The American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends teethers made of solid rubber, as well as avoiding any liquid-filled teething rings or plastic objects. The latter two can break and present a health hazard.
Apart from this, here’s a list of what you should look for when buying teething toys for your baby.
Chewing toys come in all sorts of different sizes.
A toy that’s too big will be too difficult for your little one to grab hold of, which makes them even more frustrated because they’re unable to really control what they’re biting on.
On the other hand, a teething toy that’s too small can pose a serious choking risk. If you think the whole teething toy can fit in your baby’s mouth or you’ve actually seen them do it before, it’s time to go bigger.
Easy to Clean
Whatever teething toy you go for will be constantly going in and out of your baby’s mouth.
There will be falls, hiding under the couch, and – possibly – even being stolen by a naughty sibling or two.
The point is, any teething toy will need serious washing up on a regular basis, and sometimes even multiple times a day.
Buying one that can be easily washed, without fancy nooks and crannies doubling as germ-storage, is best to ensure that your baby is not putting any nasties in their mouth.
If you still sanitize everything for your little one, a teething toy that can go in a sterilizer (or one that is at least dishwasher-safe), is definitely a plus.
In connection with the earlier point, and in a bid to save you countless washing up trips, we also greatly suggest that any teething toy you opt for makes it possible for you to clip it on or attach it to your baby’s outfit.
Easy to Hold
Your baby will want total control over their teether, so a teething toy with a round grip would be easier for them to hold.
Teethers with a straight handle are trickier to use in the early months.
Long vertical teething toys, as opposed to rings, are best for older babies as they require a bit more skill to handle.
Once your little one has mastered the art of grabbing things and can control whatever they’re holding, teethers with a handle allow them to reach deeper in the mouth, easing gum soreness all around.
Regardless of the make and shape of the baby teether toy you buy, it absolutely must be durable – unless you don’t mind buying replacements pretty frequently.
After all, it will have to withstand continuous chomping and chewing – and that’s not exactly an easy feat!
At the end of the day, this really boils down to personal preference.
Most babies love anything that makes a sound, while others don’t really care about it that much, and what lights the fire within them lies elsewhere.
Teething toys that make sounds add to the entertainment factor we touched on in a section above.
Even better, some teething toys also incorporate music – and we all know how much babies love music.
These teether toys help pique their interest more if they don’t seem to be too interested in more standard ones, and will also help promote further development.
In any case, though, we wouldn’t blame you if you decide to skip on the squeaky noises altogether.
As we’ve seen, the AAP recommends firm rubber teething rings.
If you opt for plastic, wood, or any other material instead, read the package label carefully to ensure that no nasty chemicals secretly reside within the toy.
More information on the chemicals you should steer away from is included in the section below.
Proper texture on a teething ring is heavenly for your baby’s sore gums.
Some rings even come with soft bristles for your little one to rub their achy gums on and provide teething relief.
The majority of teething toys made nowadays are actually freezable, but not all of them. The purpose behind this is to help with soothing gums, offering more relief for your little one.
Unfortunately, though, the AAP does not recommend their use as they might be too hard for your baby to bite on and might cause more harm than good.
There’s no limit to creators’ imagination here: teething toys come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes.
From teethers resembling food, to phones, keys, and animal shapes – there’s something to meet just about every baby’s interests!
Phone-shaped teethers are especially great for toddlers – they’re a personal favorite of mine – as I like to think about them as an insurance policy against my own phone being covered in dribble.
Teething toys that come with appropriate carrying cases make it easier to lug around.
With a carry case, you can be sure that the teether remains clean and is not left wandering around in the deep abysses of your baby bag.
What Should I Avoid When Buying Baby Teething Toys?
Not all teethers are created equally, and not all of them are manufactured and tested in the same way either.
Believe it or not, there’s plenty of baby teething toys on the market today that you should arguably never let your little one near – at all.
Here’s a list of what you need to avoid when teether-shopping.
Liquid-Filled and Freezable Teethers
WebMD advises staying away from teethers filled with liquid, since these can leak if your baby happens to be a tough biter.
Freezable teethers are also dangerous because these can be too cold or too hard for your baby, possibly resulting in oral damage.
These are not toys per se, but your baby doesn’t really know the difference and may easily regard teething jewelry as such.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against the use of teething necklaces and bracelets.
Usually made of amber, wood, marble, or silicone, these teething toys present a choking and strangulation hazard.
Interestingly, the safety and effectiveness of teething jewelry in treating teething pain have not been established as well.
Scarily enough, the FDA has received reports of deaths and serious injuries from their use. If the necklace or bracelet breaks, the small beads can easily enter a child’s airway and cause them to choke.
While you may be watching your little one like a hawk, the possibility of the necklace becoming tightly wrapped around your baby’s neck is still a reality, and it only takes a few seconds to cause some serious damage.
Apart from this, teething necklaces can also easily get caught on another object such as a crib, presenting a strangulation hazard.
Concerns regarding the use of teething jewelry do not end at only choking or strangulation. Reports have also been presented of children injuring their gums from biting down on the jewelry, at times even leading to infection.
Pediatrician Jeffrey Bourne explains that while amber necklaces contain a substance called succinic acid which is supposed to go through the skin and create an analgesic effect, their effectiveness has not been proven. Bourne sees no substantial benefit to them – and they can pose a choking and strangulation hazard.
Don’t fall for the hype straight away – an item marketed as a great and effective teething device doesn’t always mean it truly is, and even worse, it doesn’t always mean that it’s necessarily safe for your little one.
Do your homework beforehand and read through the materials a teether is made of.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report in 2017 in which it outlined the case of a baby who suffered lead poisoning after chewing on a teething bracelet. The bracelet had metal beads which contained lead, and which the baby had been chewing on to ease gum soreness.
In this case, the teether was said to be a ‘homeopathic magnetic hematite healing bracelet’ bought from an artisan at a local fair.
Point is, a teether might look all cute and might be marketed as a natural way to soothe teething pain, but buying products that have not been properly tested can lead to dangerous outcomes. This is especially true for anything your baby’s going to be putting in their mouth – edible or not.
This should be a no-brainer, really. After all, teething toys are meant to go right in your baby’s mouth, so you should be absolutely sure they don’t contain any harmful material.
Specifically, look for BPA-free and phthalate-free indicators on the packaging, as well as non-toxic paint.
Phthalates are added to plastic to soften it, but studies have shown that it can leach over time, leading to ingestion. They’ve already been banned in Europe, and most phthalates have also been banned from being used in children’s toys in the United States.
Phthalates appear in children toys as DEHP, BBP, DBP, DINP, DIDP, and DNOP. When tested on animals, they’ve been found to affect reproduction and development, as well as the liver and thyroid.
It’s wise to check the packaging to ensure that your little one’s exposure to nasty chemicals is kept to an absolute zero – or at least bare minimum levels that aren’t enough to pose any health risk to your baby.
Passing down teethers used by older siblings, inheriting ones from other family members or buying used ones from others should be a complete no-no.
Apart from the risk of spreading germs and bacteria (as well as chances of mold-growth on the inside), toy safety standards have changed through the years.
A teething toy that would have passed as safe considering regulations that existed a couple of years ago, may have undergone studies or had incidents reported since then, rendering it unsafe in today’s world.
Nowadays and with every passing year, new toys are made from safer materials that limit your little one’s exposure to harsh chemicals.
This is always a developing landscape that progresses as science advances and more studies are carried out on products like this, so it’s extremely important to stay up to date on today’s safety regulations – not those set years ago.
How Many Teething Toys Should I Buy?
It’s a good idea to have more than one teether at the ready for whenever your baby needs them.
Keep in mind that most babies are quite picky when it comes to teethers, so there’s no guarantee that they’ll like one or two specific teething toys you buy for them.
With a small selection you buy for them to experiment with, it’s more probable that your child will find at least one that they like.
If your child has shown a strong interest in one particular teething toy and remains adamant on using it at all times, it’s a good idea to have a spare in store – or even a few spares of the same type/design in store. This wards off all that seemingly inconsolable crying if this special teether of theirs is somehow lost, soiled or damaged.
Tips for Using Teething Toys Safely
- Do not leave your little one unattended when using a teething toy.
- Do not offer teething toys with small parts.
- Do not freeze teether toys.
- Do not place wooden teething toys in the fridge to cool off. The cold can expand the wood, making it less effective.
- While not officially recommended, if you do opt for a teething necklace, ensure that your baby is not wearing it when unsupervised, or when put to nap or sleep. You’re better of getting a teething necklace that you wear around your neck, not one your baby wears around their neck.
- Clean teething toys often and check for mold growth.
- Dispose of teething toys that have mold.
- Prevent siblings from using the same teething toy. Every child of yours should have their own set of teething toys which only they use.
When to Stop Using Teethers
Most pediatric dentists agree that prolonged pacifier use can interfere with a child’s dental health and oral development. The same applies to teethers, given that these too go in the mouth.
Before the age of two years, most issues with baby teeth can very well resolve on their own within 6 months of stopping the use of teethers. Beyond that, though, chances are you’ll likely need a dentist’s help.
So, your toddler should not continue to use teethers beyond the age of two years.
It’s best to consult your child’s pediatrician if your toddler is still seeking out a teether beyond this age, so they help you figure out why this is happening and advise on what you need to do to fix the situation.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed with all the baby teething toy options out there, as well as all the rules and regulations when it comes to their use and safety considerations.
It’s also normal to go out of your way and buy the absolute best baby teething toys available out there, only for your little one to completely refuse them.
As with most things aimed for baby, what makes a teething toy great depends much on personal preference. Besides making sure you’re giving them something as safe as possible, there’s not much you can do to make them like it or even accept it. Sometimes it’s a hit, while other times it’s a miss.
A teething toy that one baby won’t even look at, might very well become the holy grail for another baby. Well, no one ever said this parenting thing is easy!
The bottom line is this: as long as you opt for a teether from a reputable manufacturer that adheres to the latest safety standards and regulations and you keep close tabs on your little one whenever they’re using it, you should be all good to go.
Soon enough, that gummy smile will turn into a toothy grin before you know it! Happy parenting – they’re only so little for a super short while, so enjoy every minute of it while they’re still so tiny!
Product photos: © Amazon.com