Since babies love to chew on things like blankets, stuffed toys and baby books, the teether is a better and safer option for babies than choosing their own object. Babies start teething between 3 to 12 months of age. As the tooth develops, it pushes through the baby's gums causing local irritation, swelling and pain. Teething is a very stressful and difficult stage of development with the added problems of sleepless nights, grumpiness, biting, heavy drooling and inconsistent feedings since sucking from the breast or bottle feeding brings more blood to the area causing pain.
Teethers give the baby a safe object to bite that temporarily relieves pain. It is designed for easy grasping and can fit in the baby's mouth. When the baby first starts teething and before teeth erupt through the gums, softer teethers are needed to keep the delicate gums from bruising and can be refrigerated to temporarily numb the gums. Teethers should never be frozen. After the teeth come through, a textured or rubber teether massages the gums around the new teeth. They are flatter with bumpy surfaces that encourage the baby to bite down on them. Teethers need frequent cleaning and sanitizing to prevent the spread of bacteria and checked for broken pieces that the baby could choke on. One piece teethers in popular animal shapes are designed without areas for bacteria and dirt to accumulate and shaped to prevent choking.
There are a variety of shapes, sizes, textures, materials, colors, safety and effectiveness of teethers. Most importantly, they need to be free of toxic chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, paints and polybrominated diphenyl ethers that can impair learning and brain development.
Teething rings, pacifiers and other teething objects should easily fit in the mouth and not have small parts that could choke the baby.