Whole Parenting Family

Teething Gel: To Gel or Not To Gel? And Alternatives That Work

This is a biggie to address: teething gel! When your little babe or toddler is screaming with what appears to be teething pain, and your dad suggests rubbing a little whiskey on it, you respond: “They have oral gel for this nowadays, Dad!” But is that gel safe? Last year a number of warnings came out about benzocaine, the primary agent in oral baby teething gels, and the prognosis was not so great.

1) FDA & AAP warnings.

“The FDA has learned that benzocaine products can cause a serious life-threatening condition known as methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia (MET-hemoglobin) is a condition where there is a build-up of methemoglobin in the blood, which reduces the ability of the blood to transport oxygen throughout the body. ” Baby411.

“The FDA says benzocaine products should not be given to children younger than age 2 unless under the supervision of a health care professional. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving children with teething problems a teething ring that has been chilled in a refrigerator, or gently rubbing the child’s gums with a finger.” Read more specifics of the FDA warning here.

2) Alternatives.

A few articles from the Whole Parenting past: teething at night {Toddler Night Sleep Trouble} & teething {Teething Pain in Young Children}. And a few ideas:

a) a great teething biscuit recipe here from Weelicious!;

b) frozen breastmilk in cubes in a mesh feeder;

c) warm washcloth;

d) cold washcloth;

e) teething rings in freezer/ pacifier in fridge or freezer;

f) toys like Sophie the French giraffe that are totally safe plastic;

g) homeopathy! hyland’s teething gel is safe and effective sometimes, like all homeopathy; and

h) amber teething necklace (which has worked for us well, but again, is not guaranteed to work for everyone).


  1. ejones217 on January 10, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Excellent suggestions! I’d just read about the oragel business and promptly threw ours away in favor of Hyland’s homeopathic teething tablets. C likes the way they taste (unlike the oragel–for which he would clamp his mouth closed and turn his head and bat your hands–looking back, that should have been sign numero uno that it was no bueno). I actually tried the oragel on myself, and dang! It’s strong. I can’t even imagine what the adult version would do to your mouth! Oh my heck.

    Also, what’s your take on teething biscuits? I worry that bc C has teeth he could chomp off a choking hazard sized bite. Thoughts?

    Also part deux, the amber teething necklaces–does baby only wear them while supervised? I know, am a paranoid mama.

    • Novice Natural Mama on January 10, 2012 at 10:49 am

      I know! Oragel is scary.

      Teething biscuits. I waited until J had chompers and was about 9 months old. The chompers help them not choke on the parts they bite off. Also, depending on the biscuit brand, they breakdown really easily inside their saliva-y mouths so it’s not a hazard. I’d watch him very carefully the first time or two, and then see where it goes.

      Amber necklaces: they are positioned very close to the neck without being a choker themselves, so not long enough for the baby to play with them. J never plays with his. It’s usually tucked under his shirt so he doesn’t even appear to notice it. And only wear supervised, yes, of course! Good point.

  2. KateJ on January 10, 2012 at 11:08 am

    My kids all love the Baby Mum-Mum biscuits. They are made from rice powder, you can get organic versions, and they dissolve very easily. If a piece breaks off, it might gag the child a bit, but we’ve never had any episodes of actual choking–we just make sure that we are in the same room when he’s chomping on them.

    My 2 year old is rather attached to his amber necklace. I took it off of him last week so I could let the baby use it, and yesterday he noticed and demanded it back. Going to have to get another one for the 9 month old who is currently getting 4 teeth on top. I have heard that the most effective amber necklaces are the whiteish colored ones. Ours is a true amber color, but it still seemed effective.

    I recently bought a Teething Bling necklace, after fighting off my son’s attempts to teethe on my jewelry. He LOVES it, and I like that I don’t have to keep pulling my sleeve or necklace out of his mouth. There is also a sterling silver necklace that I have seen on a website that looked really cool and stylish too, but it was pricey. Teething Bling is about $20.

    • Novice Natural Mama on January 11, 2012 at 8:40 am

      Yes to the Mum-mum biscuits, though they do have evaporated cane sugar in them. And you’re totally right that’s the best biscuit to start with for safety concerns because they do totally dissolve!

      I love that about your 2 year old’s amber necklace! Ha! I don’t know anything about the color impacting the effectiveness, but sounds like something I should look into. Ours is a true amber color as well.

      I bought a teething bling necklace too, but J never really took to it. That is fabulous it works for yours!

  3. Vivian's Mama on January 10, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    What’s this new age crystal necklace you speak of?

  4. […] about teething here {Teething Pain in Young Children}, here {Toddler Night Sleep Trouble}, and here {Teething Gel: To Gel or Not to Gel}. What are the best teething toys, how do you even know […]