Caring for little teeth naturally

A couple weeks  ago my baby boy grabbed my finger and started gnawing on the knuckle (nothing new there). Only this time I felt a sharp little scratch, the beginnings of a tooth! While obviously excited at having reached another milestone, I was also a little apprehensive. Teething can cause grumpiness and restlessness. And now we also had to think about dental hygiene for babies! A kind of bizarre thought.

In NZ, when you take your baby for their 5 month community nurse checkup, you are gifted a baby toothbrush and toothpaste from one of their ‘sponsors’, one of the large toothpaste/brush companies (that shall remain nameless). I get it, Plunket need to get money from somewhere. They operate on a small budget and do great work for the community. However, being a bit skeptical, I tend to question the motives behind these types of commercially driven donations. I also wasn’t too keen on using the bright blue, sparkly toothpaste on my baby (which incidentally said from 6 years up on it), as well as a bulky plastic toothbrush in his mouth. It just seemed wrong. babyfinger-toothbrush

Luckily, on a recent trip to Aus I had spotted a natural brand of baby dental products, called Jack n Jill,  and had (seeing a bird in hand) snapped up some paste and a set of little silicone finger brushes. So I busted these out the other day, and turns out they are really easy to use! Easier than I imagine trying to use a normal toothbrush on a baby would be. They have soft sort of bristles on one side and bumps on the other to massage baby’s gums little. The only challenge was trying to prevent him chewing on it too much, ha! The organic banana flavoured toothpaste was also a hit (after some initial confused looks from the boy-o), and ended in a lot of lip-smacking.

I have looked to see whether they are available in NZ, and luckily you can get them at a number of online retailers as well as at Commonsense Organics.  Yay! Here’s to establishing healthy little teeth without unnecessary chemicals! Incidentally, since I’ve been breastfeeding, I’ve also switched to a natural toothpaste brand. Did you know some big brand toothpastes have an antibacterial agent in them called triclosan, which has been shown to have hormone altering effects in animals (according to the USFDA)? Although not known to be unsafe in humans, it’s still enough to put me off, and traces of this compound do make their way into breastmilk. Erring on the side of caution, I’m choosing to try to avoid products containing this ingredient.


Teething and feeding – natural alternatives

teethingbabySo the little fella is about five months old now,
and I’m expecting that at any day he might suddenly change from (almost) angel baby to a drooling, screaming nightmare! In any case, I want to be prepared for teething, and for the next stage of moving onto solid foods. However, I don’t want to give him yukky plastic teething toys or plates and cutlery that might contain harmful compounds like phthalates or BPA (Bisphenol A, a chemical used in plastic manufacturing). I mean, these things will be going frequently into his mouth (like a lot of things do already!) so I want to minimise any exposure if I can.

There are a range of alternatives to your regular plastic feeding and teething sets, for example I could go for stainless steel, plastics certified free from phthalates/BPA (still petrochemical based), silicone, or natural organic products made from wood, bamboo, rubber or latex. After some thought, I’m going to look into this third option to see what products are out there that are easily available to us mums in New Zealand. I think this could be the way to go because: A, they are plastic-free and B, made from renewable resources!

I’ve found some plates and cups by a company called Beco


Bamboo fibre plates…a natural alternative?

(that, incidentally, also makes pet products, I found out about them when buying a new water dish for my dogs) that look promising. They are made from bamboo fibre and are food safe. For teething I already have a couple of toys made from natural latex (eg Sophie la girafe) that he likes to chew on, and there are plenty of other non-plastic teething items that I can use, like a cold washcloth from the freezer! So we’ll test out a few of these options and see how it goes. We’re still a little ways off so I have some time up my sleeve to do a bit more research and see what I can find online. I’m also going to head to Commonsense Organics to check out what they have in their baby section as I seem to recall seeing some teething products there.


Example of a natural rubber teether

If you have any good suggestions for natural teething and feeding products or ideas, I’d love to hear about them!