Homemade Teething Tea for Babies

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Written by Kate Tietje, Contributing Writer

I have tried all kinds of methods for soothing teething.

With my oldest two, we relied on Hyland’s teething tablets and then either chamomilla (my oldest) or belladonna (my second).  These worked.  We have also used an amber teething necklace with both my second and third.  The amber necklaces definitely seem to take the edge off for them, but when they’re just about to get a new tooth, they’re just irritable and achy enough not to sleep well and to be fussy.

We tried some homemade teething cream with my third, which is far safer than anything you can buy.  It worked, but of course it’s messy and it has to be reapplied more frequently.  Still, that’s a neat option!

We were still using teething tablets with our third, but began to notice a problem.  The teething tablets seemed to soothe edges of the irritability, but they also led to sleeplessness.  He’d be awake at all hours of the night, fussing and climbing on us and refusing to settle down.  He would not let me nurse or rock him to sleep.  None of us were getting any rest!  It took me a few weeks to connect this to the teething tablets, but finally I did — and we stopped using them.

I was left with no good options and some nights he was waking every hour and fussing.  I knew I had to find another way.

Jacob teething necklace

Jacob at 7 months with his teething necklace

The Teething Tea

I really like to use home preparations of herbal medicines (like my cold and cough lozenges).  I feel that these are safest because I source my herbs well and I completely control the ingredients in the preparations.  I don’t have to worry about any preservatives or artificial sweeteners or other weird stuff.  I can also choose the herbs that work best for my family.

My theory was this tea would help to calm him down and sleep easier, as well as taking away the achiness in his mouth.  And it worked.

The recipe:

  • 1 tsp. skullcap or catnip
  • 3 – 4 whole cloves
  • 1/2 c. boiling water

Let the herbs steep in the water for 10 – 15 minutes.  Longer is good if you have the time.  (Sometimes I’ll make it in the early afternoon and let it sit, covered, until bedtime.  I often make enough at once for 2 – 3 nights and put it in the fridge with the herbs still in it.)

Strain the herbs out and put the mix in a bottle or a sippy cup.  Add an ice cube to cool it to lukewarm.  Add a small amount of raw honey or grade B maple syrup to sweeten lightly.  (Don’t use honey if your baby is under a year old; mine’s 13 months so I use whatever I have close by.)

Offer tea to the baby, getting baby to drink at least a couple ounces in the half hour before bed.

How and Why It Works

The very first night we tried this, my son went from waking every hour to waking only twice!  Most of the time since then he wakes 1 – 2 times per night and often it is because he is wet, and he resettles very easily.  (My babies can’t stand wet diapers whatsoever, even if they are not *that* wet.)

Skullcap and catnip are both very mild, baby-safe sedatives.  They help promote restful sleep.  It seems silly to see catnip for people…but it’s a very nourishing herb!  I have used both several times and they both work equally well.

Clove is known to help oral pain (in adults too!).

The combination relieves the pain and helps the baby to sleep.  The tea is a little spicy, but my babies are weird and like strong, spicy, bitter, etc. flavors so Jacob has actually enjoyed drinking this (I even added ginger when he had a cold and he *still* liked it!).  If your baby is uncertain, you could make this into a tincture and use a very tiny amount, or simply add a bit more sweetener.

This has been a great solution for us because I know it’s safe, easy to make, doesn’t cause any side effects, and it works!

How do you help teething babies?

Top image by trophy geek

About Kate Tietje

Kate is a work-at-home mom to (almost) 4 kids -- Bekah, age 4.5; Daniel, age 3; Jacob, 1; and baby #4, due mid-March 2013. She is married to Ben, a wonderfully supportive husband! She blogs at Modern Alternative Mama, where she writes about natural health, real food, parenting, and all things “green.” She also recently launched Modern Alternative Kitchen, a site about traditional cooking, and is about to launch Modern Alternative Pregnancy. In her “free” time, she enjoys sewing, crafting, cooking, and playing with her children. Follow her on Facebook!

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Comments

  1. Cassi Adekunle says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I had a question regarding the amount and frequency of doses. Is it safe to use on an as needed basis since it is natural? My son is 7 months old and teething is killing us right now, but I don’t want to over do it! Thanks

    • Yes. These particular ingredients are very safe (not true of all herbs) so you can use as-needed. We found once a day usually was enough but it will depend on the baby. I start with 1/2 – 1 tsp. for really little ones and I give toddlers full cups to drink!

  2. Rashelle Gillett says:

    At what age is this safe to use? My baby is 3 1/2 mos.

  3. Autumn Myers says:

    I’m my son, my first, is two weeks away from turning five months old. He is teething right now. Nothing seems to work. Oral Gel seems to ware off too quickly. His teething toys are either too cold or not cold enough. He can barely hold things in his mouth and screams bloody murder until I get it back in his mouth for him. He is also up every hour to two hours right now. I would love to try something new like this. Is he too young for it?

  4. Hey there!! Am about to head out and get these ingredients for a poor little babe who’s teething terribly!! My son has been Jekyl and Hyde for the past few days!!
    I want to post about our experience with the tea. I was wondering if you’d mind if I reference your post as a source?
    Thanks!!
    Cyndi

  5. Can I use fresh catnip from the garden or does it need to be dried?

  6. Love this! We are going through teething with our 8 month old right now. I will make some tomorrow :)

  7. Hi, I have a 4 month old who is starting to teeth, my older daughter had her first 2 teeth around this age. Will the teething tea be ok far a baby so young? She has never used a bottle before so I don’t know if she will even try it. I’m just looking for anything to sooth her so she (and I) can sleep. Thank you!

  8. Need to try this. Sounds great!

  9. How awesome! We were running out to a bible study with our very cranky 6 month old when I made her a catnip tea to help her get through the evening. I like seeing that I’m not the only crazy herbal mama who thinks of these things. :)

  10. What age can you safely start this?

  11. My baby is only 4 months teething is this safe at that age?

  12. I have a couple questions. I’d like to make the tea – but I can’t find catnip and can only get skullcap in a tincture. Would that still work? Also, I was wondering how to know what amounts are okay for kids (mine is a little over a year). Is there a good resource to find out that info instead of browsing the internet for it?

    Thanks for the tea idea!

  13. never would’ve thought to make tea! I’m not a mother, but my friend’s mom used an ice-pack teething ring for all her children. She stuck it in the freezer and popped it out whenever they started fussing. Since it was basically an ice-pack, it helped numb the pain

  14. Could a 4-month-old drink this?

  15. What a cool idea! I love how simple it is! Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. Tamara Wilkins says:

    Thanks! Gonna try this. Also, where did you get the amber necklace?

  17. How much did you give your child? My breastfeeding baby will rarely drink anything but is like to try this!

    • Hi Betty,

      Pretty much what he will drink. :) Sometimes it is only a few sips, and sometimes he’ll basically finish the cup. He is older now though, 14 months, so he is used to drinking from cups, and he enjoys his bedtime tea.

    • This is great, I will have to try it. Betty, try those little medicine dropper/syringes. Mine use to get colic really bad so I would just stick the tip of the oral syringe at the corner of his mouth and slowly push the plunger down. He would drink the colic water the same time he was nursing. Good luck.

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