Written by Kate Tietje, Contributing Writer

I have tried all kinds of methods for soothing teething.

With my oldest two, we relied on Hyland’s teething tablets and then either chamomilla (my oldest) or belladonna (my second). These worked. We have also used an amber teething necklace with both my second and third. The amber necklaces definitely seem to take the edge off for them, but when they’re just about to get a new tooth, they’re just irritable and achy enough not to sleep well and to be fussy.

We tried some homemade teething cream with my third, which is far safer than anything you can buy. It worked, but of course it’s messy and it has to be reapplied more frequently. Still, that’s a neat option!

We were still using teething tablets with our third, but began to notice a problem. The teething tablets seemed to soothe edges of the irritability, but they also led to sleeplessness. He’d be awake at all hours of the night, fussing and climbing on us and refusing to settle down. He would not let me nurse or rock him to sleep. None of us were getting any rest! It took me a few weeks to connect this to the teething tablets, but finally I did — and we stopped using them.

I was left with no good options and some nights he was waking every hour and fussing. I knew I had to find another way.

Jacob at 7 months with his teething necklace

The Teething Tea

I really like to use home preparations of herbal medicines (like my cold and cough lozenges). I feel that these are safest because I source my herbs well and I completely control the ingredients in the preparations. I don’t have to worry about any preservatives or artificial sweeteners or other weird stuff. I can also choose the herbs that work best for my family.

My theory was this tea would help to calm him down and sleep easier, as well as taking away the achiness in his mouth. And it worked.

The recipe:

  • 1 tsp. skullcap or catnip
  • 3 – 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 c. boiling water

Let the herbs steep in the water for 10 – 15 minutes.  Longer is good if you have the time. (Sometimes I’ll make it in the early afternoon and let it sit, covered, until bedtime. I often make enough at once for 2 – 3 nights and put it in the fridge with the herbs still in it.)

Strain the herbs out and put the mix in a bottle or a sippy cup. Add an ice cube to cool it to lukewarm. Add a small amount of raw honey or grade B maple syrup to sweeten lightly.  (Don’t use honey if your baby is under a year old; mine’s 13 months so I use whatever I have close by.)

Offer tea to the baby, getting baby to drink at least a couple ounces in the half hour before bed.

How and Why It Works

The very first night we tried this, my son went from waking every hour to waking only twice!  Most of the time since then he wakes 1 – 2 times per night and often it is because he is wet, and he resettles very easily. (My babies can’t stand wet diapers whatsoever, even if they are not *that* wet.)

Skullcap and catnip are both very mild, baby-safe sedatives.  They help promote restful sleep. It seems silly to see catnip for people…but it’s a very nourishing herb! I have used both several times and they both work equally well.

Clove is known to help oral pain (in adults too!).

The combination relieves the pain and helps the baby to sleep. The tea is a little spicy, but my babies are weird and like strong, spicy, bitter, etc. flavors so Jacob has actually enjoyed drinking this (I even added ginger when he had a cold and he *still* liked it!). If your baby is uncertain, you could make this into a tincture and use a very tiny amount, or simply add a bit more sweetener.

This has been a great solution for us because I know it’s safe, easy to make, doesn’t cause any side effects, and it works!

How do you help teething babies?

Top image by trophy geek