Babies explore the world through their mouths. It’s only fitting you’d try to fill it with objects that won’t cause them harm in the long run. This becomes even more important once they hit the teething stage. Sore gums will seek relief on any surface they can find, which is why teething toys exist.
Table of Contents
- What To Avoid with Teething Toys
- What to Look for in Non-toxic Teethers
- What About Homemade Teething Remedies?
- The Best Non-toxic Teethers
Unfortunately, traditional teethers can cause harm. They’re often made with brightly colored, highly questionable plastics and filled with liquid cocktails that might pose problems if little teeth puncture through them.
Thankfully, there’s a massive market of eco-friendly, nontoxic teethers available. These products promise to soothe little mouths without the risk of ingesting harmful compounds. But which ones deliver on these promises, and which are guilty of greenwashing?
Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best nontoxic teething rings for babies available today. There are many to choose from, ensuring you can make the right choice for your child.
What To Avoid with Teething Toys
Not all baby toys are as innocent as they appear. Parents usually have a budget in mind, meaning that many brands use the cheapest materials possible for their products. While these toys may technically be harmless at purchase, these products wear down over time when exposed to heat and saliva from all that chewing action.
This means that saving money in the short term can have costly effects over time if you’re exposing your child to harmful compounds. After all, even trace amounts of questionable chemicals can harm tiny digestive systems.
Here’s a closer look at the most common toxins found in baby teethers.
You won’t see phthalates listed on most packaging. Instead, they are labeled as ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’. They work to bind scents to products and make plastics more pliable.
A common compound in hard plastics, BPA is another estrogen mimicker.
While most plastics today are labeled as BPA-free, be on the lookout for any products with the recycling symbol ‘7’, as it’s a common sign of the presence of BPA.
Varnishes, Paints, Stains
Wooden toys may seem wholesome, but they’re often coated in potentially toxic paints and stains. Some might even contain arsenic or lead, two substances you DON’T want your little one ingesting. Be on the safe side and seek out toys decorated with plant and water-based pigments instead.
This cheap alternative to lead poses its own problems. Cadmium can cause developmental issues, especially regarding language and motor skills. Thankfully it’s almost exclusively found in metal coatings on cheap toys—so avoid giving your teething child metal to chew on, and you should be safe.
Though latex is technically a natural material (it’s made from the sap of the rubber tree), the stretchy material is a common allergen and could be contaminated with nitrosamines. Save your child the risk of developing an itchy rash and skip it.
What to Look for in Non-toxic Teethers
That’s a long list of compounds to avoid in baby teethers. Thankfully, there are plenty of nontoxic materials used that are safe for babies at every stage of development.
Many consider natural rubber as the safest option available for nontoxic baby teethers. The material makes for easy cleaning, and its natural anti-bacterial properties prevent mold growth, even when teether spends its life covered in drool.
The biggest negative to natural rubber is that teething toys made from it may lose their shape over time. This means you’ll need to replace the toys slighter more often than ones made from stronger materials, like silicone.
Food-Grade, Medical-Grade Silicone
Soft on tender gums but strong enough not to be torn apart, the silicone used in teething products is often made with a naturally anti-bacterial material that doesn’t hold onto foreign odors or fragrances. It’s also BPA-free, PVC-free, phthalate-free, and latex-free.
Not all silicone is created equal, so you should always seek out products labeled as food-grade or medical-grade.
Not only is organic cotton grown in environmentally sustainable ways, but this material won’t have been treated with bleaches and other toxic compounds. Just note you’ll need to wash these teethers more often, as moisture exposure can lead to bacterial growth.
Wooden teethers offer a stellar eco-friendly nontoxic teething option. The durable surface soothes sore gums, and most are naturally anti-bacterial without any stains or treatments. Most are strong enough to withstand vigorous chewing, but make sure you replace any wooden teethers that show signs of wear to avoid any splinters in the mouth.
What About Homemade Teething Remedies?
For the DIY mom, there’s no limit to the creative ways you can soothe a baby’s sore teeth. If the preferred teether isn’t anywhere to be found when you need it most, here are some alternatives to get you through a tough spot.
- Wet an organic cotton washcloth and put it in the freezer until it starts to hold its shape. Take it out and offer it for sucking—the cold will be soothing on sore gums.
- For babies who are starting to explore flavors beyond formula or breastmilk, a frozen fruit teether offers welcome relief. Cut some juicy produce into small pieces and fit it into a BPA-free fruit feeder. Leave it in the freezer for at least an hour before letting your little one chew on this age-appropriate popsicle.
- If you haven’t yet tried a wooden teether, consider letting your child chew on a wooden kitchen spoon. Look for high-quality models, as they’re the most likely to be sanded smooth for minimal risk of splinters. Just know those little teeth can do some damage, so only offer spoons you’re comfortable getting a few marks on.
The Best Non-toxic Teethers
Here’s our list of the ten best nontoxic teething toys available today, ranked according to how much we recommend them.
Highlights: Free of BPA, PVC, and phthalates, this line of natural rubber teethers is offered in a variety of different animal shapes babies are sure to love.
Baby brand Caaocho offers an all-natural product line of teethers made from pure, natural rubber. Parents can choose from a whimsical sheep and goat, or an orange grippy fish. Each is BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free and has all its holes sealed to minimize mold growth inside.
The orange fish offers a flexible design that can reach the back gums. It’s built with different textures throughout for tactile exploration and sensory stimulation for tiny fingers. In the same way, the lamb and goat legs are just long enough to reach those sore spots in the back of the mouth, and the big eyes (painted with nontoxic paint) draw your baby’s attention.
Customer reviews show babies grow attached to these animal-like teethers and often treat them like a favorite toy. The lack of holes offers peace of mind for parents concerned about mold growth. However, some buyers note that Caaocho’s natural rubber can smell for several days after purchase, so you might want to let the toy air out before giving it to your child.
Highlights: Made in the USA using non-toxic silicone that’s free from odors, this ergonomic teether doubles as a sensory stimulant for teething babies.
Don’t let its simplicity fool you; this transparent teether will quickly become a favorite. Moonjax teethers are made in the USA from odor-free, nontoxic silicone and are designed for durability while still providing babies with a satisfying teething experience.
The ergonomic design keeps little ones entertained and acts as a sensory stimulant. You can even pop it in the freezer for the days when little ones need a little extra relief. And since it’s dishwasher safe, cleanup couldn’t be easier.
Customer reviews show this toy is best suited for the littlest teethers. The smaller size makes it easier for them to fit in their mouths, and the multiple prongs offer many grippy surfaces. This toy is simple enough that you can give it to the three-month-olds to keep them entertained, but it’s likely not stimulating enough for older children.
One unexpected downside? The transparent design can actually make it blend in with the surroundings, so you might struggle to find it in the toy box.
Highlights: Under the Nile receives high marks for their GOTS-certified organic Egyptian cotton products – now offered as teethers in different shapes!
Skip wood and rubber toys altogether for your little teether with these stuffed fruits and vegetables, made entirely from GOTS-certified organic Egyptian cotton. Under the Nile specializes in nontoxic baby accessories, including clothing and bedding. Everything is machine washable (wash on delicate and tumble dry on low), and the low-impact, metal-free dyes won’t bleed.
This tiny carrot, strawberry, and asparagus make for a squishy soft comfort object that baby can suck on. Or, go with the variety pack for an adorable organic veggie crate. Note that while these tiny toys can offer comfort for babies, they lack the resistant form of rubber or silicone teethers and won’t help as much with teething pains.
Parents online rave about the cute simplicity of these tiny toys and marvel at their surprisingly sturdy design. A few noted a strong chemical smell upon delivery but wrote that it seemed to disappear after a few hours and may have been the wooden packaging. In a few cases, some of the stitching came loose, but parents wrote the repairs were an easy fix.
Highlights: Made from solid maple wood, these teethers are shaped perfectly for little hands, and easy to clean.
Go back to the basics for your baby with this simple teether made from maple wood. It’s cut from solid hardwood in Vermont and sanded smooth to ensure it won’t irritate little mouths. Each teether arrives in a unique, organic shape that’s just the right size for little hands to grip, and they are easy to clean with a damp cloth.
While it might seem unnatural to hand your baby a chunk of wood to chew on, customer reviews show that this teether is a surprising favorite for little ones. Babies as young as three months old can handle the teether, and they are durable enough to last through multiple siblings if that’s your goal.
In a few cases, parents received teethers with sharp slivery spots and didn’t feel comfortable giving them to their children.
Highlights: Food-grade paint and natural rubber from the latex of the Hevea tree make up these cute teethers from a brand that’s been around for years.
This classic baby shower gift is a favorite for a reason. Sophie is made in France from 100% natural rubber that’s entirely safe for babies to chew on. The bright spots boost sensory perception, and the long limbs are easy for little ones to position into the sore spots along the backs of their gums.
Customer reviews show Sophie hasn’t changed at all in decades and remains a nostalgic throwback for new parents. Many rave that babies are captivated by Sophie and chew on her for hours at a time.
In recent years, Sophie has come under scrutiny for her potential to grow mold inside. This is a common feature of any baby toy that comes in contact with moisture and, in most cases, poses minimal health risks for your child. Just keep this toy as clean and dry as you can, and it can serve your family well through multiple teething phases.
Highlights: Made from BPA-free silicone, this teething toy offers numerous different textures to choose from, and is suitable for children as young as three months.
Small but far from simple, this silicone teething toy is satisfying to touch and suck on for little mouths. Every prong of the star is a different texture, and it’s possible to “pop” the toy on any flat surface for interactive play, whether that’s in the car, the bathtub, or at a restaurant. Never worry about misplacing it—a hole on the top prong can connect with a pacifier clip.
Because of the ultra-flexible material, this toy might not offer the same mouth satisfaction as other teethers and might be better used as a distraction toy than a pain reliever. It’s suitable for children as young as three months, meaning that babies can grow into it. Best of all, Poppies are made in America by a small family-run company from medical-grade, BPA/PVC-free silicone.
According to customer reviews from skeptical parents, this toy lives up to the hype. Some even found themselves stealing it for use as a fidget toy because the suction and popping sounds proved so satisfying.
Highlights: A budget pick with multiple handholds and grippy surfaces perfect for relieving gum soreness, this BPA-free silicone option is a hit thanks to how easy it is to clean.
Cheap yet effective, this silicone baby toy offers multiple handholds and grippy surfaces for relieving sore gums. It’s shaped like fingers to give babies that soothing tactile sensation of sucking on a caregiver’s hands. And since it’s priced under $7, you can easily keep a few backups on hand to calm a crying fit on the go.
Caregivers love how easy this toy is to clean since the 100% food-grade silicone design means it’s safe for the dishwasher, microwave, and even a baby bottle sterilizer, if you prefer. And that’s good news, as the silicone material tends to attach itself to every little fuzzy and dust particle it comes in contact with.
Another thing to note, this toy’s slim design makes it more likely than other teethers to get chewed through. This increases the chance your little one may accidentally swallow some of it, but the silicone material won’t pose any risks to their digestive system.
Highlights: Hevea rubber and natural food-grade dyes are the primary materials in these produce-themed teething toys.
Based in Barcelona, this baby toy company remains family-owned decades after its founding. The brand’s line of natural rubber teethers includes many whimsical designs, including kale, watermelon, bananas, avocados, carrots, and more. The toys are made in molds without built-in holes, eliminating the chance that mold can grow inside.
Parents love the bright colors of these whimsical toys and appreciate that they have a long lifespan for holding kids’ attention—as they age, the toys can transition from teethers to play kitchen equipment.
Each is made from natural Hevea rubber and hand-painted with natural food-grade dyes for extra safety. Who knows? Letting your little one teethe on healthy veggie toys might just make introducing them to their diet a little easier later on.
Note: counterfeit Oli and Carol products are common, so make sure you buy from a reputable seller.
Highlights: Massage sore gums while acting as a toothbrush at the same time with the Baby Banana Teething Toothbrush; parents enjoy its ability to introduce babies to the feeling of having a toothbrush in their mouths early!
Help encourage healthy dental hygiene at an early age with this cute banana teething toy that also acts as a toothbrush while gently massaging sore gums. It’s tiny but easy to grip, making it suitable for babies at just three months old. Parents can even use it as an extra gentle toothbrush to help babies get used to having one in their mouth, making it easier to prevent those toothbrushing tantrums in the toddler years.
Made in the United States, the banana contains 100% food-grade silicone that is BPA-free and phthalate-free. Don’t let the simple design dissuade you—this teether was a longtime favorite for my toddler.
Just beware that the silicone material and bristled banana tip tends to be a magnet for dog hair, so you’ll want to clean this regularly before letting your child put it in their mouth.
Highlights: Offered in a wide variety of designs, these teethers made from non-toxic wood and solvent-free paint double as toys for curious babies beginning to play.
You’ll be surprised how long these simple wooden toys entertain small children. Made in Germany from nontoxic wood, Haba’s heirloom-quality toys and games will foster developmental skills from birth on. Each wooden toy is made from sustainably harvested wood and decorated with water-based, solvent-free paints that are safe for sucking on.
Customer reviews praise Haba toys, claiming that they succeed in keeping young kids entertained, often even better than electronic options. Babies will happily drag them all over the house and enjoy chewing on the smooth wood.
Choose from a wooden rattle/clutching toy, a cheerful whirligig, a sun-shaped clutching toy, and many more, including a full range of silicone toys designed to soothe sore gums.