The first baby teeth are on the way and your little one has sore gums. They're screaming in pain all day long and you're pulling your hair out.
With most health professionals recommending non-medical treatments of the first port of call to treat teething pain, teething toys are usually the first thing parents try out.
After looking after bringing you a parents' guide to teething, we're looking specifically at teething toys. We'll consider what they are, how they help teething babies, the different types of teething toy, and what you should look out for when buying one.
What are teething toys?
While not all babies will suffer a large amount of pain, many teething babies experience a lot of pain and discomfort. Teething toys are designed to soothe sore gums and teething pain by offering counter pressure to the emerging teeth. Coming in all shapes and sizes, they can range from simple teething rings to teething necklaces and other, more extravagant items. And now, more than ever, they are designed to keep babies engaged in play and distracted from their pain.
There are three types of teething toys.
Considered to be the classic teething toy, teething rings can either be a single item or a ring with other teething toys attached to them.
Often found on places like Etsy or Notonthehighstreet, these are fashionable necklaces with large shapes that double as a silicone teether. We all know that babies love reaching and grabbing necklaces or lanyards to put in their mouths, to these necklaces are used to offer teething relief at the same time.
Other teething toys
It's hard to name this category because some in their own little field of teething toy. They could be an animal made from natural rubber, a TV remote, or a pacifier that squeezes small amounts of solid food into baby's mouth.
10 best teething toys
Here we go, let's look at our 10 best teething toys for babies (and toddlers, for that matter).
We should point out, we've purposefully excluded teething necklaces from this list. That's not to say that they don't work or they're not useful. They're just largely the same in how they work and the differences are mainly subjective in terms of how they look. So we've decided to focus on teething rings and other teething toys.
“We sent the holder and pink teether to daycare with the little guy. They loved it and said it was the nicest one they had seen. He does great holding it and gets so smiley when the coolness hits those gums."
The Not-Too-Cold-to-Hold teether from Fridababy focuses on chilled soothing, while uniquely preventing your child's hands from getting too cold. It comes with two double-sided inserts offer four different shapes and textures between them to massage sore gums. These are stored in the fridge and inserted into double handed holder that stays at room temperature.
- Room temperature holder
- Two double-sided silicone inserts
- Mixture of textures
“Sophie has been a staple in our house since we had children. All of my kids have loved this teether.
"Our dogs also love it, which is why I've bought about five of years."
Sophie The Giraffe, or 'Sophie la Girafe' to this French product it's correct name, has been a favourite teething toy since it was launched in 1961. Parents love Sophie just like they loved her decades ago.
Made from natural rubber, it is as much a toy as it is a teether. There are soft and bumpy parts around Sophie's body, which can soothe gums. There's also a squeaker inside making it a fun, enjoyable toy even if they're not teething.
- 100% natural rubber
- Mix of smooth and bumpy parts
“Perfect toy for a 4-5 month old. He's just about to start teething so he gnaws on this thing constantly. The gripper inside is absolutely genius. He can still drop if it his hand goes totally limp and he puts it down, but he usually hangs on pretty well."
The Penguin Buddy from Smily Mia is the best selling baby teething product on Amazon in the US. A totally unique concept, this cute little penguin requires baby to grip it from the inside (almost like a puppet), making it harder to drop and lose. It has an arm on either side which act as teethers but can also be used as dummies/pacifiers.
- Food grade silicone
- Nipple/teat-shaped soothers to mimic breastfeeding
- Easy-grip handle
“Over one year later and baby still loves these to chew and suck on. They are very easy to clean, are soft yet durable. He also loves the different shapes and textures."
This set comes with four free-standing fruit-themed teethers - orange, strawberry, grapes and peach - a teething ring and a bottle-shaped teether. All made from silicone, each toy can be chilled in the fridge for extra soothing for baby's teeth, while the teething ring and bottle offer different textures to help reduce the pain.
- Fruit shapes
- Multi-texture bottle and ring
“This is a perfect teething toy for my baby. It's not too bulky and it's a great size to hold onto. He loves it! This is a must buy."
This gorgeous teething ring from Akolik combines wood and silicone to create a super useful soother that is not to big and not too small. It has six small silicone circles sitting around the wooden ring, each offering a different colour and texture to offer relief from teething symptoms. The silicone ring can be removed for sterilisation in boiling water. There are also four different colour ways to choose from.
- Six textured circles
- Inner wooden ring
- Sterilising clean
“Such a fun toy for little ones! I love that it also doubles as a teether. I bought it for a road trip with my seven month old and he LOVED them!"
The Moonkie Stacking Rings could be described as a baby toy that doubles as a teething toy, rather than a teething toy that can be used as a toy. It consists of seven individual stacking rings of different shapes, sizes and textures, all made from silicone.
- Seven tier stacking rings
- Premium food grade silicone
- Range of textures
“Don't waste your money on other teethers. This one provides the comfort baby needs and deserves."
Despite its simple design, the Mini Cooler from MAM is very effective. The small, textured silicone area is filled with 100% purified water which can be cooled for maximum relief. The handle makes it easy to grip for little hands, and there's a super useful clip that will keep it attached to your baby's clothes.
- Curved shape helps reach back teeth
- Easy grip ring handle
- Clothing clip
“Different size nipple attachments are great, one purchase will definitely get you through baby's journey. Durable and will be able to use with next child. Easy clean and can throw it right into bottle sanitiser."
Certainly one of the most innovative products on this list, the NatureBond Baby Food Feeder helps to introduce solid foods while simultaneously soothing baby's teeth. It comes with a pair of three different-sized silicone teats which have tiny holes that allow small amounts of food into your child's mouth. The adjustable knob allows you to squeeze the food to the end of the teat and out of the holes.
- Adjustable knob to push food to the end
- Multiple teat sizes
- Easy to dismantle
“These were one of the few teethers I found that were freezable."
The Nuby Keys are another product that has been a staple in so many homes for so many years. It has three separate keys attached to a silicone ring. The ends of each key are made from silicone and filled with a special gel that can be placed in the freezer but won't freeze solid, make it safer for your baby's first teeth. The handles are plastic, meaning your little one's hands won't get cold.
- Multiple texture keys
- Easy grip ring
- Specialised gel doesn't freeze solid
“We have a six month old and she’s been obsessed with our cell phones and the remote lately. So when we saw these teethers we were excited and they work great! She gets the excitement of the remote and it’s something we don’t mind her chewing on."
Ideal for babies and toddlers who are already obsessed with the TV remote, this two pack of baby teething toys are brilliantly styled just like your own TV remote. Not only does your baby get relief from teething pain, you also won't have to fork out for a new remote. Designed with loads of different textures, the soft silicone used means the buttons on the remote can actually be pressed. There's also a hole at the bottom to use with the accompanying lanyard and clip. And, brilliantly, the back of the remote includes moulds for ice cubes.
- Brilliant, realistic design
- Pressable soft silicone keys
- Ice cube mould on rear
Key features of the best teething toys
There are certainly some things you should look out for when buying teething toys.
Historically, teething toys would have been made from wood. However, most modern baby teethers are made from natural rubber or food grade silicone. As they're used for babies mouths, it's important that they're free from harsh chemicals, so be sure to look out for 'BPA free silicone' or PVC free materials.
Some elements of baby teethers might be made of hard plastic, but materials that are too hard could cause more harm than good.
You'll also need to clean baby teethers so, for ease of cleaning, look for teething toys that are dishwasher safe.
Cold things are known to soothe baby's sore gums, so many baby teethers can be placed in the fridge. The cool sensation can ease some of inflammation around irritated gums.
A silicone teether can normally be placed in the fridge. However, the best cold teething toy is one that contains either water or a specialised gel that will stay cooler for longer.
Professionals recommend against freezing teething toys, because it means they become too hard for baby's teeth.
The best teething toys will have different textures over them to stimulate different sensations against baby's gums.
Size and shape
Size is an important factor when purchasing a teething toy. You need it small enough to fit inside baby's mouth but not so small that it presents a choking hazard. Sometimes the shape can affect how far your child can reach into their mouth. It also needs to be the right size for baby fingers to easily grip and hold.
Although it's often worst for babies, sore gums and pain can still be an issue for teething toddlers who have molars erupting. Their mouths are still small so a short teething toy might not be able to reach where they need it to.
Naturally, a choking hazard is one of the biggest concerns when buying something for a baby or toddler.
Thankfully, being made from silicone, most teethers are extremely durable and can withstand plenty of biting. That's what they're designed for after all. If, however, you notice any tearing in the material, it's best to stop using it immediately as it could tear completely and pose a choking risk.
When should I give my baby a teething toy?
The teething process begins at different stages for different babies. Most tend to see their first teeth emerge around six months, however this can be later or sooner.
Watch out for some of the main symptoms of teething to gauge when to give your baby a teething toy. They don't have to be screaming in pain, they could still be uncomfortable and benefit from a teether.
Do teething toys work?
They're not guaranteed to soothe baby's gums because it depends entirely on how your child is experiencing teething. Some poor children really suffer with teething and may need occasional pain relief to ease their suffering. Others, on the other hand, just need that little bit of counter pressure and relief that teething toys provide.
Are teething toys dishwasher safe?
Because most modern teething toys are made from silicone, they can usually be placed in a top rack dishwasher.
However, it's always best to check before you buy.
Can I give my child frozen fruit?
You might well know plenty of other parents who swear by giving their child frozen food when they're teething.
However, medical professionals always recommend chilled over frozen. The extreme temperatures of frozen food can cause more harm to your child at that age. If you like the idea of offering food alongside a teething toy, check out the NatureBond Baby Food Feeder above.