Teething Tips for Peaceful Parents

By Jenn Sanders © 2017

Teething is one of the major milestones in your baby’s first year of life. It will change their adorable gummy smile and open up the door for your baby to experience the various textures and flavors of solid foods.

As exciting as it is seeing that first pearly white tooth, sometimes teething comes with pain and discomfort that can affect your baby’s mood, appetite, and even sleeping patterns. The following natural tips will aid you in keeping your baby comfortable and happy during this process.

Frozen Treats 

Inflammation of the gums, or even cheeks, is a pretty common symptom of teething. You might find that your baby is pretty fussy and shows signs of experiencing pain. Frozen healthy treats are a great way to help keep the inflammation down.


Solids foods should not be introduced to your baby till at least 6 months of age. Breastmilk popsicles are perfect for babies under 6 months. They will not only help with reduce the pain and inflammation, they will also provide your baby with the best nutrition!

These popsicle molds are great for little hands. Just wash the molds before use, fill them with expressed breastmilk, and set them in the freezer for a few hours.

If your baby is at least 6 months of age, you can change it up by making frozen fruit treats. Bananas are a great option because they no pose no choking hazard and they can easily fit into one of these teethers.

Essential Oil Remedies

Essential oils are made from herbs and have great medicinal properties that can help your baby through the discomforts of teething. Chamomile and lavender are herbs with great soothing and pain relieving properties.

Chamomile is an herb that has been used for centuries to help relieve children’s discomfort. It soothes pain, digestion issues, and can even help them sleep soundly. To apply this remedy, try making a batch of chamomile tea and waiting until the tea is room temperature to rub some of it along your little one’s gums and the inside of their cheeks.

Lavender essential oil will definitely come in handy when your baby is unable to sleep. The oil will relieve the pain and help your baby get some rest. To soothe their sore gums, dilute the essential oil using a carrier oil like olive or coconut oil, then using your fingertip, apply the solution along the outside of the baby’s cheek and jaw. You can also dilute the essential oil and apply it to the back of their neck, wrists, and the bottom of their feet.

Teething Accessories 

Fortunately, nowadays it is very easy to find natural, non-toxic teething accessories. They can be made from anything from unfinished wood to food grade silicone.

Another option is an authentic amber teething necklace. The necklace can be worn around the neck or even as a bracelet or anklet. These necklaces have become a popular option because they are effective, non-toxic, and beautiful to look at.

Baltic amber necklaces even contain healing properties due to the high level of succinic acid contained in the amber. The succinic acid is release when the amber is warmed up by your baby’s skin. Once the acid is absorbed into the skin, the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties will help your baby feel much better. The amber necklace also helps relieve sore and swollen gums, and can even brighten your baby’s mood.

A baltic amber necklace is most effective when it’s worn while in consistent contact with the skin. It can even be hidden under clothing or worn as an anklet (not on a baby's wrist as this will be put into the mouth). Be sure to select a baltic amber necklace that is sized for a baby - this makes a difference as it is not long enough to reach the mouth, or pose a choking hazard, but rests just below the chin. In addition, baltic amber necklaces should only be worn while your baby is under adult supervision.


Not only is it important to keep your baby comfortable while their first teeth are making their debut, it is also important to begin practicing oral hygiene. You can even begin before their teeth begin to emerge. The gums are a very important part of overall oral health. Massaging your little one’s gums keeps oxygen and blood flowing to the area, and helps maintain health gum tissue and nerves. You can gently massage their gums with a clean finger or damp washcloth. Once the cute little teeth start to erupt, you can then introduce a soft bristle toothbrush to clean their teeth twice daily.

Teething is a natural part of your baby’s life. At times it might seem hard for them and the entire process might even throw you for a loop, but rest assured that with patience, cuddles, and lots of love, your baby will get through it and you will have a few more reasons to smile.


Fetal Lungs Protein Release Triggers Labor to Begin

Babies know when and how to be born.
Each one knows when s/he is ready for life on the outside.
Let's not rush them.
Let's trust them.

We've long known that a mammal's lungs are the last organ to develop inutero before it is baby's time to exit. Disrupting this normal process (and initiating/inducing labor to start before a baby triggers labor on his/her own) frequently causes a cascade of complications - from difficulty in latch, poor breathing, increased infection, decreased immunity, under development, failure to thrive, and an increase in SIDS.

Now, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers have found that it is in fact the fetal lungs themselves which provide the signal to initiate labor.

Drs. Carole Mendelson, Jennifer Condon and Pancharatnam Jeyasuria published findings that a substance secreted by the lungs of a developing fetus contains the key signal that initiates labor.

The protein released from the lungs of a developing mouse fetus initiates a cascade of chemical events leading to the mother's initiation of labor. This research, which has implications for humans, marks the first time a link between a specific fetal lung protein and labor has been identified, said Mendelson, professor of BioChemistry and Obstetrics and Gynecology and senior author of the study. Their research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and is currently available online here.

The initiation of term labor is carefully timed to begin only after the embryo is sufficiently mature to survive outside the womb. Previous studies suggested that the signal for labor in humans may arise from the fetus, but the nature of the signal and actual mechanism was unclear. In this study, researchers found that the key labor triggering substance, surfactant, is essential for normal breathing outside the womb.

"We found that a protein within lung, surfactant, serves as a hormone of labor that signals to the mother's uterus when the fetal lungs are sufficiently mature to withstand the critical transition from life in fluid to airbreathing," said Mendelson.

"No one really understands what causes normal or preterm labor. There may be several chemical pathways that lead to labor, but we think that this surfactant protein, which is also produced by the fetal lung in humans, may be the first hormonal signal for labor to begin," reported Mendelson, who is also co-director of the North Texas March of Dimes Birth Defects Center at UT Southwestern.

In humans the signaling protein, called surfactant protein A, or SP-A, also helps immune cells, called macrophages, fight off infections in the lungs of children and adults by gobbling up bacteria, viruses and fungi that infiltrate the lung airway.

"Women who go into preterm labor frequently have an infection of the membranes that surround the fetus, and the number of macrophages in the wall of the uterus increases with the initiation of preterm labor. When women go into labor in their own time, at term, they also have an increase in macrophages in the uterus," Mendelson said.

This led the researchers to investigate whether there was a connection between what happens during normal labor at term and in infected mothers who go into early labor.

Mendelson continued, "This also raised the question: If bacterial infection can cause increased macrophage infiltration of the uterus in preterm labor, what is the signal for the enhanced macrophage migration to the uterus at term?"

In mice, the developing fetal lung starts producing SP-A at 17 days gestation; full-term delivery occurs at 19 days. The developing human fetus starts producing SP-A in increasing amounts after 32 weeks of a 40+week normal gestation, at which time the baby's lungs are essentially developed. As the fetus "breathes" amniotic fluid in the womb, the protein is released into the fluid.

"The SP-A protein binds to macrophages in the amniotic fluid, macrophages that come from the fetus itself," said Dr. Jennifer Condon, a postdoctoral researcher in BioChemistry and the study's lead author.

The macrophages, activated by the protein, make their way through the amniotic fluid to the wall of the uterus. Once embedded there, they produce a chemical that stimulates an inflammatory response in the uterus, ultimately leading to labor.

Researchers also found that injecting a pregnant mouse with SP-A before day 17 of the pregnancy caused the mouse to deliver early. Injection of pregnant mice with an antibody that blocks SP-A function caused them to deliver late. This would cause us to believe that women who carry babies post 42 weeks (as is common in some family lines) may do so because the necessary SP-A function is happening at later date in gestation (starting at 34 weeks instead of 32 weeks, for example).

Identifying the receptors on the macrophages to which the SP-A protein binds will be the next step, Mendelson said. "We think that bacteria may be binding to the same receptor on the macrophages to cause preterm labor in women. The bacteria mimic the function of SP-A, initiating the chemical reactions that lead to premature labor. If we knew more about this receptor on amniotic fluid macrophages, we may be able to design therapies or inhibitors to block preterm labor."

Other researchers participating in the study were Dr. Pancharatnam Jeyasuria, a research fellow in internal medicine and former fellow Julie Faust, now a medical student at Texas A&M University.

The research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

If you are an expecting mother or physiological birth advocate who trusts birth and the woman who owns it, you're welcome to join The Birthing Group: FB.com/groups/Birthing

Swimming, Suits & Mesh: Cut the Lining of Your Child's Suit to Decrease Irritation Potential

By Danelle Day, PhD © 2010
Originally published in Tidewater Parent Magazine

Summer is here! And with the warm and sunny days come trips to the local swimming pool, beach and lake. Every year at this time something surprising happens to many little tykes sporting their new swimsuit -- it's something that no one talks about, and often leaves parents perplexed as to what is really going on. It is what I lightheartedly call the "mesh monster" in our child care classes. That is, the mesh lining in many swimsuits or boys swimwear is simply not a good match for the developing genitals of babies and children, and the results are something we see each year, especially among boys.

For boys who are no longer intact (i.e. they were circumcised), the extra sensitive glans (head) of the penis is left exposed, as is the meatus and opening to the urinary tract. The friction of a mesh liner can quickly exacerbate irritation, inflammation, callusing, chaffing, soreness, and may even cause blistering. In addition, the mesh assists in holding sand, salt, algae, and the bacteria that comes with these water-elements close to the genitals - further increasing chance of irritation or infection - not a good thing when striving to avoid UTIs (urinary tract infection) and other discomforts that can occur, especially in early childhood.

For boys who remain intact, the glans and meatus are protected (one function the foreskin serves) but the mesh liner of many suits is just big enough to allow for a trapping of the prepuce (foreskin). Ouch! The same also occurs with many girls (and adult women) each year if their suit or underwear is not made of solid, 'closed' material - the labia, and even external parts of the clitoris, may become pinched in mesh of any kind. Most cases of skin entrapment go unreported, but in 2006, the journal of Pediatric Emergency Care reported on three such cases when children ended up in the ER with penile injuries due to their prepuce becoming pinched in the mesh lining of their swimsuits.

No matter a child's sex, keeping wetness, sand/salt/debris from the ocean or lake, or chemicals of a pool close to the genitals is not a good idea. It throws off the delicate balance of pH and healthy microflora, increases irritation, and is cause of countless "redness" reports each year (commonly diagnosed as 'balanitis' at a physician's office). For this reason, do not have your child swim in underwear or items that don't allow for quick drying and 'breathing.' Use real swimsuits (or cloth diapers without inserts) made of fabric that wicks away and dries quickly. And when prepping this year's suits, cut the mesh liner from the suit before use. This is quick and simple to do - grab a scissors and carefully cut along the stitched-in ridge at the top of the suit. Your child will thank you, and you'll have less redness, irritation, and potential skin entrapment to deal with.

If redness does occur: coconut oil and Calmoseptine are two quality items that will not increase risk of yeast overgrowth, or further throw off pH and microflora balance of the genitals. Coconut oil alone (with some air dry time and warm water only baths) will be enough to soothe inflammation in some cases. If not, Calmoseptine will take care of everything, quickly. You can purchase at tube upon request at your local pharmacy. Always be sure to rinse with clean, fresh water post-swimming.

To prevent redness that repeats itself: apply Calmoseptine ahead of time to 'at risk' areas of the body. This is typically especially the case where swimsuit material (or a diaper, underwear) rubs on or touches the body. The Calmoseptine will serve as a barrier cream and reduce the irritation during swimming summer days. Again, be sure to rinse briefly with clean water after swimming in a pool, lake or the ocean.

If skin entrapment in a liner that was left in place occurs: GENTLY, slowly, and carefully apply vaseline or another slippery ointment if you have some nearby; stretch or tear the mesh with a tweezers or your fingers, if you are able, and/or use a scissors to cut the mesh away from the body, using extreme caution not to cut the ultra sensitive tissues of the genitals. Sliding into luke-warm water will also allow for relaxation, and a change in blood flow - potentially loosening the mesh grip on tissues as well. Post-freeing, apply Calmoseptine and/or take a soak in warm water (with Epsom salt if desired) to reduce inflammation and support the body in healing itself.

Related reading at the Intact Care Resource Page

Public Service Announcement by Intact Indiana

Public Service Announcement by Intact Utah

Public Service Announcement by Intact Asheville



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