Baby’s first tooth is usually a cause for celebration. But as teething gets underway, you may search for a way to relieve the pain for your crying infant. Among the most commonly used pain relievers are teething gels. Applied to baby’s gums, the gels can numb the area and offer relief. However, experts say that if these gels contain benzocaine, they should be avoided for children under the age of two years. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has even issued a warning to avoid benzocaine use in children of that age. Benzocaine is a local anesthetic contained in brand name products Anbesol, Orajel, Baby Orajel and Orabase, among others. Though effective, benzocaine has been known to cause methemoglobinemia, a rare and potentially fatal blood disease, in children under two years old that can reduce the body’s ability to release oxygen to the tissues and cause headaches, shortness of breath, skin discoloration, fatigue and an inability to exercise. According to the FDA, one dose of benzocaine is enough to trigger the condition, so it is best to avoid it altogether in the very young children most at risk.With this in mind and because teething pain can lead to other problems such as difficulty eating and sleeping, diarrhea and low-grade fever, you will need to explore other options to relieve your baby’s discomfort. Some natural remedies include
- sucking on a silicone teething ring or a clean washcloth that you have put in the refrigerator for a while
- a bottle or cup filled with fresh, cool water to provide relief
- feeding your baby cool, nutritious foods, such as sugar-free yogurt, cold fruit puree or applesauce, if the baby is old enough for solid foods
- using clean fingers to gently massage the irritated areas of your baby’s gums
A cuddle often works when all else fails.
These natural solutions can safely and effectively ease baby’s pain and restore calm, while offering you peace of mind.