Have you ever wondered how some of those home remedies for teething came about? When I look at it, it seems an awful lot like trial and error fueled by frustration. But maybe it’s like that with anything for parents seeking advice.
Anyhow, we were struggling to help our little one overcome her teething pain. Already sleep-deprived, this added to the feeling of desperation we had as parents. For each step forward, another milestone developed. Just as we started to settle into a nice sleep routine those teeth started punching through her gums.
So, looking for options, we came across vanilla. As you probably know it’s available widely in bean form and as an extract. I wasn’t sure what to think, so I decided to explore each in a little more detail. Like I said, we were desperate to help soothe her aching gums. Could it be possible that vanilla extract helps teething babies?
Vanilla’s Healing Potential
Next time you’re at the pharmacy stop and read the labels on the teething remedies. Notice anything unexpected? That’s right, vanilla. While some tout vanilla on the packaging, most do not. However, you’ll be surprised at how many of these preparations use some variant of vanilla.
Many homeopaths tout vanilla’s unique properties. While the science is not fully in on some of these uses, it can’t be denied that vanilla’s medicinal use has a long and standing history. The claims that are most useful to your baby are several. First, it has known antibacterial properties that can help the immune system. That’s always a plus, especially when baby is in daycare.
Vanilla is also known to soothe anxiety. It is relaxing. And when your baby is in the throes of teething, anything helps. Vanilla baths are very common. For me, it’s a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Sorry, I had to get that in!
All kidding aside, vanilla is also a digestive aid. Now, when baby is teething, she’s certain to have some tummy problems. All that anxiety and crying is no good for little bellies. A little vanilla can help keep her belly calm.
Finally, vanilla is known to have anti-inflammatory properties. This is crucial for teething babies. It’s the source of her pain, and vanilla can act on it just like over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. All this in a natural delivery free of any known side effects.
The Whole Bean
So you’re probably wondering, how do I go about this? Sure, you could scrape a pod into baby’s yogurt. Or scrape out a bit of the pod and massage it over her gums. Even the inside of the pod could help. It’s a value-added approach: the vanilla combined with a gentle massaging of the gums. Which is it? You may never know. But if it works, don’t question it.
I found this method to be just all right. Honestly, it was tedious. So instead I opted to put the beans into her yogurt. I also froze the vanilla yogurt and she loved it! The cold and the vanilla were a great combo.
Look around your kitchen. What are her favorite foods? Consider adding vanilla to those foods.
Have you ever tasted the stuff? It doesn’t go down easy. I couldn’t imagine getting it into her mouth without a fight. Baked into a cookie it’s perfect. But on its own, not so good. But some people swear by it. And I think I know why. Vanilla extract is typically 35% alcohol by volume. Compare that to most whiskies or vodkas which come in at 40% alcohol by volume.
I remember my mom saying how they would put “a little whiskey” in her bottle when her and her brothers were teething. And I bet they slept like a baby afterward. I know that my parents watered down this step for me by merely rubbing a bit of whiskey on my gums when I teethed. According to them, it worked. I try not to think about it.
Which makes sense because alcohol is known to relieve pain. So that localized introduction of vanilla extract to your baby’s gums is no different than rubbing whiskey on her gums. No matter how I look at it, I couldn’t in good conscience place a product with that amount of alcohol into her mouth. I’m not alone on this, either. All the medical literature I’ve seen, and my own pediatrician, recommend against using alcohol for pain relief while teething.
So put the bottle down until baby’s asleep. Then pour yourself that drink. Trust me, I know you’ve earned it.
Other Forms of Vanilla
All right, we’ve covered the basics. While I think that vanilla in its purest form probably offers the best pain relief, there are other ways to get your vanilla in for teething pain. Walk down the baby aisle at the supermarket and all sorts of vanilla-flavored teething biscuits will stand out.
Find a product she likes and go with it. Is the diluted amount of vanilla worthwhile? Maybe, maybe not. But the chewing action of the biscuit will go a long way to helping that tooth break on through.
They also taste good. Really—try one!
But vanilla doesn’t need to be used in a vacuum. Keep it as part of your teething repertoire. The tried and true methods still work: the frozen washcloth, teething rings, and soft fruits. All do the trick.
Try this for added benefit: infuse the washcloth with vanilla. It’ll taste good and release some of the bean’s anti-inflammatory goodness into her gums.
To Bean or Not to Bean: does vanilla extract help?
That really is the question. Vanilla is touted as having properties that can help teething babies. In my experience, I found that slightly higher concentrations of the bean worked best.
I couldn’t tell if the vanilla in teething biscuits offered any significant improvement to my daughter’s pain. Again, I found that vanilla worked well when used in conjunction with other methods. Drop the extract.
The bean, that is the recommendation.
Emily Anderson is a mother of three children, all under the age of 10. Located in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Emily is a full-time mom and part-time blogger, jumping in front of the computer screen when the kids are occupied or sleeping. She started this blog in April of 2019 and is proud that the blog is now paying for itself. If you want to know about her journey as a blogger, check out out her personal digital journal or her post about failing her way to blogging success.