Q&A: alternative teethers

Kate writes:

"My daughter is almost 10 months, and she’s teething and thankfully being pretty reasonable about it. But she just loves chewing on things, and the usual plastic teething rings just aren’t cutting it for her. There’s nothing she likes better than chewing on a cork-backed drink coaster; a leather handbag strap, or the timber baby gate. These things aren’t really convenient or safe though (finding her with little bits of cork in her mouth isn’t my idea of kid safe). She does regularly get a frozen flannel, and that’s great for 5 minutes.

Do you have ideas for alternative teethers? I found one suggestion on the net of using a large unstained curtain ring with the screw removed, which I thought was a great idea. I was so tempted to give her a leather doggy chew strap, until I heard they’re cured with formaldehyde….

I’d love to hear any suggestions from you or your readers…"

You could try the classic-but-always-relevant wooden spoon, which has the added benefit of having several different shapes and angles (handle, shank, and spoon itself).

Or you could get a carved wooden teether. I had one that was kind of a rattle, with a long handle and a ball inside two carved rings. My mom saved it and my older son teethed on it when we were at my parents' house when he was cutting a tooth. My wonderful brother-in-law gave us a carved rattle like this one that my son also teethed on quite often. (And look at this beautiful one shaped like a fish from the same site. Or this multi-media one with a wooden teething ring attached to a terrycloth body. Another store has just a plain wooden teether finished with beeswax.)

I couldn't find any kind of leather teething toys online (and am a little sorry that I did a Google search on "leather straps nontoxic"), but I'm thinking braided rope might do the same trick. You could look for a small verison of the braided dog chew toy I talked about in this post about stopping aggressive behavior in 2-year-olds.

You're already doing the frozen wet washcloth thing. Have you tried frozen mini-bagels? They're nice and hard and chewy, and absorb the drool.

My teething 10-month-old likes to chew on his leather Robeez-type shoes, but the dye's not good for him and I don't want him to shred his shoes, so I don't let him do it.

Anyone else have any ideas? Anyone who started a kind of sleep-away camp for teething babies would have a big business going, I think.