October 6, 2016

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt offers parents tips for teething babies in light of new FDA warning

baby looking into the camera with uncertainty(iStock)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to parents that homeopathic teething tablets and gels may pose a risk to infants and children. The FDA advises that parents stop using these products and dispose of any in their possession. More information on this warning is available here.

Vanderbilt physician Anna Morad, M.D., says while teething is sometimes uncomfortable for babies, it’s a natural process and one that rarely requires over-the-counter medication.

“Teething discomfort will pass with time and patience,” said Morad, assistant professor of Pediatrics and director of the newborn nursery at Vanderbilt. “Given the safety concerns regarding certain teething tablets and gels, parents should consider other methods to soothe their baby and consult their health care provider if their baby is not improving.”

Signs of teething include drooling, chewing on objects, irritability and tender gums.

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt offers these tips to soothe a teething baby:

–          With clean hands, gently rub your baby’s gums. The pressure and touch can help relieve pain and offer comfort.

–          Give your baby a clean washcloth soaked in cold water to put in their mouths. Contact with extreme cold can cause injury to the baby’s mouth, so avoid frozen things, but a cool cloth can be soothing to the gums.

–          There are many teething toys on the market that are safe and effective for babies to chew. Look for products that are free of BPA/phthalates and avoid gel or fluid-filled options.  Additionally, a clean toothbrush can be easy for babies to hold and chew.

–          Cold foods such as chilled pureed fruit can provide relief and distraction.

–          For older babies who already have some teeth and have been introduced to solid foods, allow them to chew on hard foods such as carrots or crackers.

–          If your baby is inconsolable after exhausting other options, an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be administered, but always consult with your pediatrician first and be diligent about proper dosages.

Morad urged closely monitoring your baby when he or she is eating or chewing on anything, to avoid choking.

Additionally, amber necklaces or bracelets are sometimes used by parents of teething babies, but there is no scientific evidence that these products are effective for teething, Morad said. They can be a choking or strangulation hazard and babies should always be carefully supervised if they are used.