Why Do Babies Like Teethers?

Baby Mouthing Toy Giraffe
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Babies like to put toys in their mouth. They chew, bite and munch on their toys. Why do babies like teethers so much? 

Teething is a process that many parents wait anxiously for, but dread, when it comes to their newborn's development. Anywhere from the first few months of age, through their first year of age, babies are often teething. Many parents believe their babies are teething when they start to drool.

Parents often search the child's mouth for their first teeth by rubbing their hands along their gums, looking and feeling for newly emerging teeth. Babies are given teethers. Teethers are toys that a baby can put into their mouth when new teeth are developing. 

It is true, babies do get some comfort and relief by chewing on toys, like teethers, when their teeth are growing in. Tender gums might feel better when a light pressure is applied. 

Just like every person is different, every baby is different. The types of toys that one baby likes, might be very different than another. 

Some parents prefer using teethers that can be chilled in the refrigerator, providing a soothing coolness to baby's gums if the child puts it in their mouth. Definitely be careful not to freeze the teether to long. It could hurt and be uncomfortable to a baby's delicate gums. Some teethers have vibration when a baby bites down on the toy which can also provide relief, too.

There are many other reasons though why babies like to put teether toys in their mouth to chew on. It is not always for relief when their teeth are emerging.

It is part of child development that babies will try to put things into their mouth at an early age. All that mouthing and munching actually encourages a baby to move their tongue inside their mouth.

This gives the child awareness of their mouth. These motions help to lay the foundation for learning speech sounds as babies begin to babble, while learning to say their first words, "mamama" and "dadada" and "bababa."

Since babies love to chew on items, especially when they are teething, parents should not be surprised if they bite on blankets, favorite stuffed toys, edges of baby books, keys, their fingers, or even their parents' fingers! Since babies like to chew and teethe on whatever they can find, there are even necklaces and bracelets that are designed for parents to wear that are a safe alternative for baby to teethe on.

Teethers are made from all types of materials. Some are made from rubber, silicone, plastic or wood. Teethers can be bought in different shapes, colors and sizes. Many toys also have different textures on them, to appeal to a child's individual interests. Many teethers are round, so they are easy for a baby to grip and hold before they bring it to their mouth. 

Always supervise a baby while they are using a teether. While choosing a teether, look for a teether that the baby will be able to hold and safely put in their mouth. A teether that is to big or too small, could be a safety hazard.

Do not use items that are not meant to be teethers as a toy, especially toys that have small parts that could fall off and be a choking hazard.  

An important thing to keep in mind while choosing a teether is to verify that it is safe for the baby to put into the mouth. Choose only phthalate and BPA free teethers for your child. Find out if the teether is made from non toxic paint. 

Do not buy used teethers used.  Lots of toy safety standards have changed over the years as companies create new toys that are designed to go into baby's mouth that are manufactured from safer materials that will not expose a baby to harsh, toxic chemicals. Consider buying new teethers with each baby.

Definitely create a good plan for cleaning and sanitizing teethers and rattles to reduce the spreading of germs, especially if there are other babies around who might want to put the toy in their mouth.

Keep sanitizing wipes handy in case the toy falls on the floor. Wash toys regularly with soap and water. Many toys can also be placed in the top rack of the dishwasher.

Article edited by Keriann Wilmot.