Choose A Safe All-Natural Teether For Your Baby
Teething can be a painful process for both moms and babies. Babies put everything they can get their hands on, in their mouths. Then they chew with red flushed cheeks, swollen gums and drool heavily until chin rash appears. Lovely.
Not to mention the sleepless nights, inconsistent feeding, biting and grumpy tantrums. Most parents solve this unsettling teething troubles with a teether chew. But not all teethers are made equal. Stop and think about this. What do you really know about your baby’s teether?
Plastic Teethers – No More Please!
These are the most common type of teethers. Yet, they are also the most dangerous type. You want to avoid any plastic teethers that contain BPA, PVC or phthalates. Why?
- BPA or bisphenol-A is a plastics chemical that has been in use since 1957. Despite its long history, international concern about BPA only started to unfold in the last 5 years. BPA is known to mimic estrogen and disrupt endocrine development. It is particularly harmful for pregnant women, babies and young children. Although most regulatory bodies will tell you that BPA is safe in small quantities, baby product companies have started producing BPA-free plastics. This may be good news except for one thing. When a product is BPA-free, it has to contain other chemical plasticizers to make the product somewhat flexible. In most cases, plastic manufacturing companies have replaced BPA with BPS. Bisphenol-S is another form of plastic that is just as toxic – or more toxic than – BPA. It is hard to tell without substantial research conducted on BPS as compared to BPA. If you are just focusing on BPA-free products, you could be missing the bigger picture.
- PVC or polyvinyl chloride is the third most common plastic in the world and a known human carcinogen. Did you know that lead is used as a stabilizer in the chemical makeup of vinyl chloride? It means your baby stands a risk of being exposed to lead while chewing on a plastic teether containing PVC. In fact, there is no safe way to manufacture, use and dispose of PVC products; it is dangerous from production to disposal, no wonder it is also known as ‘poison plastic’. This is so bad you most definitely don’t want it in your baby’s mouth!
- Phthalates is what gives plastic that soft and supple consistency. Widely used since the 1950s to soften toys that would otherwise crack when bent or mishandled. While PVC is hard and brittle, phthalates can make a toy feel good for being soft and squeezy. Problem with pthalates is these chemicals do not chemically bind to the plastics they are added to; which means they leach and release toxins into the air or food or liquid. Babies who suck on teethers containing pthalates are in serious risk of ingesting a known carcinogen.
Even when a plastic teether is labeled as free of BPA, PVC and phthalates, read the label carefully. We already know another plasticizer alternative like BPS will be used. In some cases, ethylene vinyl acetate might be listed as well. Despite the fact that ethylene vinyl acetate is commonly used to make medical products, it was labeled as a possible carcinogen in 1995. Bottom line is avoid all plastic teethers .
Rubber Teethers – A Better Alternative?
There are many baby teethers in the market labeled as made from 100% natural rubber or all-natural rubber. This might be a great alternative except rubber contains latex proteins. Some babies may be allergic to latex or develop latex allergies with frequent and prolong exposure. An alternative to rubber is silicone. It is made from silicon – the second most abundant component on Earth and a chief component of sand. Silicone is emerging as the new essential material. According to FDA, silicone does not react with other materials or leach toxic compounds. Hence is considered hypoallergenic. Finally! A rubber alternative that is all-round safe for babies. Unfortunately in Singapore’s hot and humid weather, rubber and silicone teethers don’t store well in storage and can get mouldy. So if you are using silicone baby teethers, make sure to always keep them clean and dry.
Wooden Teethers & Natural Fabrics – Possibly The Best
When even rubber and silicone do not cut it for you, go with wooden or natural fabric teethers. Look for high-quality made from unbleached all-natural wood. Such teethers must be splinter proof and no sharp edges. Natural fabrics like pure 100% cotton or organic bamboo are great for doubling as baby’s hankie and absorbing all that drool!
A new variation of teether toys combining wood and natural fabric, to give babies a dual-textured teether to play with, is fast-gaining popularity. Brands like Seven Acre Toys (USA), Ringley (Canada) and Luv Lil B (Australia) have a great selection for these hybrid wooden teethers. An all-round winner for safe and natural teether for your baby.
In Singapore, you can find natural and organic wooden teethers at (in alphabetically order):