Are natural teething remedies just hocus pocus?

When my first baby was cutting his teeth, a girlfriend put me onto an absolute game changer.

“Have you heard about the secret teething gel they make at the pharmacy up the road?” she asked.  “They don’t put it out on a shelf, so you only find out about it by word of mouth and MY GOD, it’s like a little bottle of magic.”

The mainstream stuff hadn’t really worked for us and after another night of almost zero sleep, the news that the local pharmacy was bootlegging a solution right there under the counter was music to my ears. I almost broke the land speed record to get there.

“I’ve come about the teething gel,” I said to Barb, the sales assistant.

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“Ah the gel!” You could tell she loved this part of her job. “So, it’s made here on site from our own special recipe and it’s all natural - no chemicals or synthetics – and you need to use it very, very sparingly. It’s 29.95 a vial.”

$29.95?!  Like, as in, twenty-nine dollars and ninety-five whole cents? Five cents shy of thirty dollars for teething gel? And, sorry, but a vial? Where were we, Hogwarts? I had visions of a dungeon hidden down some rickety stairs under the pharmacy floor, full of smoking beakers and bubbling cauldrons and a wizard whose sole job it was to make the gel.  And for that price, he’d want to be doing a hell of a job.

“I’ll take one,” I said, half expecting Bootleggin’ Barb to open one side of her white coat and let me choose my vial right off her person.

Cathy Jubb. Image supplied.

As it turned out, that gel was indeed the shizzo. I tested it when I got home that morning and couldn’t taste my lunch two hours later. If the house was burning down, I’d have grabbed that gel and then the family photos, that’s how good it was. We absolutely sailed through the rest of teething. We punched teething right in the face and knocked out it’s own pearly whites. And I made it my life’s mission to let every parent of every baby within a 200km radius know about the magic gel.

Then the pharmacy changed hands. And from what I could tell, they must’ve boarded up the dungeon and sacked the wizard because under the new ownership, there was No. More. Gel. (And just quietly, Barb looked like her job satisfaction levels were starting to become pretty numb too.)

But when our second son started to pop the old incisors, I didn’t want to go back to the over-the-counter stuff. The thing I loved most about the under-the-counter stuff was that it was all natural. Well, lies - the thing I loved most was that it nuked all feeling in a kid’s mouth, giving us precious sleep - but the all natural thing was pretty great, too. So I made it my new life mission to find another effective, non-chemical teething remedy. I Googled. I read. I researched.

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I asked my health nurse. “I’ve heard that clove oil is a natural numbing agent. Do you think I could…”

“…burn and blister your baby’s tender gums like all the research says?” she butted in. “Yes. Yes, I absolutely think you could.”


I asked my sister. “What do you reckon about those amber teething beads?” “Meh,” she said. “It’s never really been proven they make a difference, but I guess there’s no harm in trying. Unless you count a blatant choking hazard as potential harm.”

I asked my mum's group girls. “Whatever you do”, one said, “don’t give him a frozen carrot to chew on. My friend did that and a piece broke off in the baby’s mouth and the baby breathed it in and turned blue and nearly died.”

I didn’t want my baby to turn blue and nearly die. Or actually die. I just wanted some comfort for the little gum-gnashing, fist-chewing, fire-cheeked beast.

natural teething remedies
Image via iStock.

Finally, I asked the actual Yoda of motherhood – my own mum. (Know it all, she does.  Ask her first, I should’ve!) “Mum, surely back in the day before we all resorted to tubes of chemicals, there must’ve been a simple, failsafe natural teething remedy?”

“Of course there was,” she said. “There still is. And you already have heaps of it, so you can stop looking everywhere for an elusive magic cure. Just give him one large dose of this every time he cries. It’s called ‘extra cuddles’.”

Extra cuddles to comfort a teething baby? Now that’s some real wizardry right there.

Do you believe in natural teething remedies?