Teething is no fun for anyone. Babies try to manage the pain by chewing on anything they can get their mouths on… their crib, their hands, your fingers. And cranky babies can’t sleep very well, which may lead to cranky and tired parents.
That’s where teethers come in handy. Unfortunately, though, not all teethers are 100% safe for your baby. Depending on the material that they are made out of, they can actually be doing more harm than good.
There are a good number of non-toxic teethers though, and we’re here to show you some of our favorites.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I could be compensated if you decide to make a purchase. You can read my full disclosure here.
The Best Non-Toxic Teethers
This list of teethers is by no means comprehensive, but they are a great start for your baby’s first set of teeth.
Natural Rubber Teething Toys
What can we say about this giraffe that hasn’t already been said? She is practically a cult classic in the baby world. And for good reason! She is a great teether made of 100% natural rubber, and her long legs, big ears, and bumpy head make perfect sense… theses spots are made for your little one to chew on!
**Benefits: It’s safe (phthalate and BPA free), durable, and adorable!
Hevea is an eco-friendly company, and their panda teethers are made of natural rubber from a sustainable plantation. The soft and textured design makes it easy for your baby to hold, and the little legs are great for teething.
**Benefits: It’s eco-friendly, made of natural rubber (so it won’t give off any chemicals), and is easily accessible — you can buy it on Amazon!
Oli & Carol is a family-owned company based in Barcelona. Their line of natural rubber teethers is inspired by nature, and the collection includes avocados, watermelons, and even kale! The bright colors make them extra fun, and you can rest assured that these non-toxic teethers are hand-painted with natural food-grade dyes. These are a great way to introduce your baby to different types of foods while they’re also soothing their achy gums. They’re also 100% recyclable, which is always a plus!
**Benefits: They’re eco-friendly and made of natural rubber (so they won’t give off any chemicals).
Non-Toxic Wooden Teethers
PlanToys is another eco-friendly toy company, and they prioritize quality materials. The Natural Keys Rattle is perfect for your little one to hold and shake while also soothing their gums. Made of natural wood from rubber trees, this is an all-natural way to give your baby something to hold onto, and something to explore. PlanToys also makes other wood teethers, like this wooden ring and this set of blocks. They make a great stocking stuffer too!
**Benefits: It’s eco-friendly, made of natural rubber (so it won’t give off any chemicals), and easily accessible — you can buy it on Amazon!
Bannor Toys is a family-owned business, and their teethers are handcrafted in the USA! This company could actually go in two of our categories here because they make wood toys, rattles, teethers, and they also have a wide range of color choices for their non-toxic silicone teething toys. The silicone is high-quality, phthalate-free, and FDA-approved. The adorable rattles and teethers come in a wide range of colors, and they’re made with safe, non-toxic materials.
**Benefits: They’re eco-friendly, handmade in the USA, and have a wide selection of color choices.
The Baby Banana Brush is a teething toothbrush with a silicone tip and bristles. It’s super easy to hold, and even easier for your infant to chew on. They “eat” from the banana stem, so they can also be entertained and distracted while they’re teething away!
**Benefits: It’s easy to hold, has another use (brushing teeth), and is made of a safe material!
This teething necklace is stylish and functional, which makes it a great accessory for you and your baby. The whole thing is made of 100% food-grade silicone, and absolutely free of anything harmful like BPA and phthalates. That means you can wear it (which will make it easier to grab), and your baby can chew on it (which will make them feel better). Chewbeads also has a line of easy clip-on teethers, which are perfect for the carseat and stroller.
**Benefits: It’s stylish, made of safe material, and is easy to hold.
Non-Toxic Freezer Teethers
Sadly, we weren’t able to find a freezer teether that we could get behind 100%. That being said, Teetherpop offers silicone teething toys in bright colors, fun shapes, and interesting textures. They’re all BPA-free and phthalate-free, and the whole line is made of medical-grade silicone, which is easy to clean.
Unfortunately, these teethers do contain polypropylene as well, which is a type of plastic. Polypropylene has been subjected to a variety of tests, and it is currently considered safe by most researchers.
If you’re searching for plastic-free teethers, however, this may not be the best option for you. We’ve discussed polypropylene a bit more in our non-toxic toys article too.
**Benefits: You can freeze them (which comforts your baby’s sore, swollen gums), and give your baby a taste of something yummy!
Why You Should Look for a Non-Toxic Teether
With all the new products out there, it’s really easy to get carried away. There are lots of teethers that look so good, or sound like they’ll work so well… you just want them! But unfortunately, many of these teethers are made of harmful materials.
For some teethers, the chemicals they give off can actually be absorbed into your baby’s bloodstream. This can lead to developmental issues and behavioral changes.
It’s best to avoid these types of materials when you can — especially since there are plenty of great options out there that are safer!
Toxins in Teethers
When you’re looking for materials to create a teether, many companies choose plastics or treated wood. While they may seem harmless at first glance, the truth is both of these materials can release harmful chemicals when exposed to heat and saliva (which they will be if your baby’s chewing on them). Here are some of the most used toxins that you should avoid when you’re looking for non-toxic teethers for your baby:
Bisphenol-A, or better known as BPA, is one of the most widely used toxins in teethers. You can spot BPA (and its replacements, like BPB and BPS) fairly easily because it’s used in most plastics. The problem with BPA and other related chemicals is that they release toxic substances when your baby’s saliva comes into contact with them.
Studies have shown that BPA can cause hyperactivity and developmental issues, increase the risk of heart disease and obesity, may cause fertility issues later in life, and increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
BPA’s use is already restricted from being used in baby products in the EU, China, and Canada. The U.S. FDA banned BPA from being used in baby bottles and sippy cups, but it’s still allowed in teethers and other toys, thanks to lobbying from food and chemical manufacturers.
Polyvinyl chloride, better known as PVC, is another material that can be found in plastic teethers. It’s a widely-used plastic, found in everything from shower curtains to food storage containers. And it’s used in a lot of children’s toys too.
This material releases a variety of different VOCs (volatile organic compounds) when it’s heated by your baby’s saliva, which can cause hormone disruption and a variety of other health issues.
Specifically, PVC releases phthalates, which have been found to cause developmental issues and behavior changes in children exposed to it.
PVC teethers also release chemicals like ethylbenzene, xylene, styrene, butadiene, and others — all of which are toxic!
Heavy Metals (Lead & Cadmium)
You may not buy a metal teether for your baby to chew on, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t dangerous heavy metals in the materials.
Lead and cadmium are two particularly dangerous heavy metals that can be found in treated wood and even some paints.
Since these two metals are so toxic, they’re not allowed to be used in children’s toys anymore… but since manufacturers aren’t all on the same page about what counts as a “toy,” you might still find them in teethers, especially if they’re imported from another country.
Lead is known to cause developmental issues, learning disabilities, and behavioral changes. An overexposure to lead can result in stomach pain, headaches, insomnia, and anemia.
Cadmium is also known to cause developmental issues (specifically in regards to language and motor skills), as well as kidney damage.
Pthalates are a group of chemicals that help make all kinds of plastics and synthetic materials more flexible.
Unfortunately, phthalates are so widespread that they’ve been shown to be present in the umbilical cord blood of most babies!
The main issue with phthalates is that they disrupt your endocrine system’s natural production of hormones. This can cause developmental issues, infertility, and a range of other conditions later in life.
Teethers made from latex can cause an allergic reaction in a baby, leading to a rash or itching and hives.
Before buying any teethers, especially if you or someone in your family has a history of allergies or other health issues, read the labels carefully.
Teethers made of treated wood are another big no-no.
Because they can often be painted with lead-based paint, it’s best to avoid these altogether.
Babies can also be exposed to arsenic with treated wood. In fact, treated wood is the main way that arsenic is introduced into our environment.
Not only can exposure to arsenic lead to cancer and other issues with development and growth, but it can cause skin rashes, nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
You likely won’t find teething toys with arsenic in them, at least not on your store shelves, but hand-made toys from a family friend could be contaminated. Ask what kind of wood they used, and say “no thanks” to anything made with treated wood (like pressure-treated lumber, plywood, or pallet wood).
When you’re out shopping for toys, avoid teethers that have been painted or stained, or look for a company that uses non-toxic lead-free paint.
What to Look For in Non-Toxic Teethers
Now that we’ve talked about what materials you should avoid, let’s discuss some of the materials you should look for in a teether.
Natural rubber teethers are generally the safest option for your baby. They’re free from lead, phthalates, and heavy metals.
They can be cleaned easily in case they get dropped on the floor or covered in drool. You won’t have to worry about them breeding bacteria since they have a naturally anti-bacterial property, and they’re soft and chewable… perfect for sore gums!
There aren’t many downsides to using natural rubber teethers, but keep in mind that they could lose their shape and firmness over time. This means you might have to replace them a few times in your baby’s first year of life.
Silicone teethers are a great option for babies because they’re BPA-free, PVC-free, phthalate-free, and latex-free.
They’re soft on baby’s teeth and gums, but strong enough to not be easily torn apart.
Some silicone is also made with an anti-bacterial material, which means you don’t have to worry about it holding onto bacteria or passing them onto your baby.
Just be sure to look for teethers that are made of food-grade silicone, since some “silicone” products contain other materials, like lead.
Organic cotton teethers are made from cotton that hasn’t been treated with any chemicals.
This means they’re completely free of any harmful substances for your baby, so you won’t have to worry about them ingesting or coming into contact with anything toxic.
Just make sure to wash organic cotton teethers before giving them to your baby, since cotton (even organic) can grow bacteria.
Wood teethers are a great eco-friendly option for parents looking for non-toxic teethers, and their hard surface can help soothe sore gums very easily.
As long as the wood is untreated and un-painted, there won’t be any chemicals or toxins seeping into your baby’s mouth, and wooden teethers are naturally antibacterial too.
Of course, wooden teethers look pretty cute too. And they’re durable enough that they can become a family heirloom, passed down for generations.
Non-Toxic Teether Materials FAQ
Are Silicone Teething Toys Safe?
Silicone teething toys are an eco-friendly alternative to rubber and untreated wood teething toys, because they’re completely BPA, phthalate and latex free. This makes them safe for your babies to chomp down on. Just make sure you’re buying food-grade or medical-grade silicone because not all silicone is created equal, and some may contain lead or other toxins.
Is Rubber Safe for Teething?
Natural rubber is a safe material for teethers and other baby toys. It’s free of any harmful chemicals, such as BPA or phthalates.
However, rubber itself can be a choking hazard, and it also contains latex which some babies may have an allergic reaction to.
Just make sure to avoid teethers that are painted with latex paint, and always check the packaging to make sure your rubber teething toys are 100% natural.
Are Wooden Teethers Safe?
Wood teething toys are free from lead, phthalate and heavy metals and they can be cleaned easily in case they get dropped on the floor or covered with drool. Just make sure to only buy untreated wood teethers since treated lumber contains harmful chemicals that could seep into your baby’s mouth.
Is Wood or Silicone Better for Teething?
Both wood and silicone are good materials to use for teething toys, but it really depends on your preferences.
Untreated wood teething toys are free from lead and phthalates, and they can be cleaned easily in case they get dropped on the floor.
Silicone teething toys are completely BPA, phthalate and latex free, plus they’re eco-friendly and durable enough to last for generations.
DIY Non-Toxic Teethers
If you’re not into using store-bought teethers, there are plenty of easy and reusable DIY options that may work even better.
One great idea is to freeze an organic cotton washcloth. This will give your baby a nice, cold surface to chew on and it’s completely non-toxic.
You can also take a piece of hard organic fruit or root vegetables (like sweet potato or carrot), remove the skin if necessary, and let your baby gnaw on it. This is an excellent alternative to teething toys made out of plastic, and it will get your baby used to the taste of fruits and veggies. Just make sure to keep an eye on them while they have it in their mouths because it can pose a choking hazard if they manage to take a bite out of it.
How to Know if Your Baby is Teething
Teething causes many symptoms in babies and most of them are pretty obvious. Babies may start drooling more than usual and they often produce extra saliva, which can lead to a sticky chin and damp clothing.
Your baby’s gums may also feel swollen and tender, so you may be able to tell if your baby is teething just by touching their gums.
Teething can cause some discomfort in babies and this is when you may notice behavioral changes like irritability and problems sleeping.
Your baby may also start chewing on everything in sight, including their own hands.
When Should a Baby Start Using a Teether?
Babies can start teething as early as 3 months, but it’s usually around 6 to 8 months that they really start actively teething.
As soon as you notice the signs of teething, you can get some non-toxic teethers for your baby. That being said, many babies won’t understand how to use them until at least 4 months, so you may need to hold the teether in their mouth if your baby starts teething earlier.
What About Teething Meds?
Teething medications and teething gels (like Orajel) may seem like a quick and easy solution to the pain your baby is going through, but they’re not usually recommended.
One of the main ingredients in many teething medications is benzocaine. Benzocaine can be very toxic for babies, causing a sometimes fatal blood disorder.
In 2018 the FDA asked that companies stop making and marketing teething products with this ingredient. Unfortunately, there are still some on the market, so the FDA warns parents and caregivers against using any topical teething products.
This is why it’s best to stick to non-toxic pain relief solutions like cold objects, the non-toxic teethers mentioned above, and fruit/vegetable teethers.
Your pediatrician may also recommend using acetaminophen or ibuprophen to ease extreme teething pain. If non-toxic teethers aren’t “cutting” it, check with your child’s doctor to see if they recommend another option.
Are Teething Necklaces Safe?
There are a few teething necklaces (like Chewbeads) on the market made out of 100% natural materials that have been put through safety testing and come from reputable companies.
These products are generally made out of food-grade silicone, untreated wood, and/or natural rubber.
Amber teething necklaces, on the other hand, are made from Baltic Amber which contains a naturally occurring form of succinic acid. This substance has pain relieving properties, much like teething oils and gels, and many people claim that they can soothe your baby’s teething pain without the use of a teether.
The fact that amber teething necklaces are made of small rocks, however, may pose choking hazards to children. If you choose to use an amber teething necklace, keep an eye on your child at all times and don’t let them sleep with it.
We hope this article has been helpful in showing you the best non-toxic teethers for your baby. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on what they’re chewing because some of them can pose a choking hazard if not watched carefully, but otherwise there are plenty of great options out there to choose from!