The best teething toy
It's exciting to see your baby's first pearly whites peek through their gums. As cute as they are, babies need relief and stimulation during oral development, which is why teething toys are so important.
Teething toys help babies get used to their growing mouths and provide pain relief, stimulation, and motor skills development. In addition to learning how to bite and chew, babies also get practice holding the items they're chomping, which aids their grabbing skills. Teething toys are soothing because they provide an outlet and because they're often in the form of friendly, recognizable characters.
If you're ready to let your little one start chomping, read our buying guide to help you choose the best teething toy. We're including our favorite teether, Vulli's Sophie la Girafe Teething Toy, which has helped hundreds of thousands of teething babies since 1961.
Considerations when choosing teething toys
Types of teething toys
Rings: Teething rings have simple ring or integrated hoop designs. They're typically made from rubber, wood, or food-grade plastic. These make for good low-cost buys or to serve as a backup teether in your baby bag or handbag.
Cooling teethers: Cooling teethers can be refrigerated to provide soothing relief to sore gums. They're usually filled with liquid or gel -- it's a good idea to stick to teethers made with sterilized water in the event they puncture. They're excellent for babies who need advanced relief beyond basic chewing.
Soft teethers: Soft teething toys are cuddly, hug-friendly options. These have fabric or plush elements and often come in the form of stuffed animals with teething parts like paws or feet. They're easy for babies to grab and light enough to carry or drag.
Teething mittens: Teething mittens are texturized with child-safe rubber nubs for chewing. They're a good choice for babies who enjoy binkies or nibbling on fingers. These mittens do double duty and prevent babies from scratching themselves with their fingernails.
How teething toys help your baby
Relief: Teething toys aid in stress and pain relief. Babies are too young to understand what's going on with their mouths, so they can be frustrated without an outlet. Teething toys let babies explore different sensations and textures which are soothing and relaxing in nature. Babies also experience stress relief with teethers since they can gnaw at them at their own pace for prolonged periods of time.
Development: Teething toys also assist with motor skills and oral development. To use their toy, babies have to independently hold it, encouraging the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. The act of teething -- chewing, biting, gnawing, and tongue movements -- prepares babies for eating foods with new textures.
For the most part, teething toys are made from plastic, rubber, silicone, or wood. The safest plastic for baby toys is BPA-free and food-grade. Rubber is incredibly durable and easy to clean but it contains latex, which can be problematic for babies with allergies. Silicone is a popular alternative, especially since it's hypoallergenic and latex-free. Wood is an all-natural material choice, but it's a bit challenging to sanitize.
Teething toys must be approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and undergo rigorous lab testing to meet safety standards. With that said, do your due diligence when comparing baby toys.
From a physical standpoint, check that teething toys don't have sharp points or small pieces babies can swallow. On a chemical level, confirm the toy is manufactured with food-grade paint and is free of harmful chemicals. Another thing to check is whether the teething toy you're considering has been recalled recently. Some toys are reengineered to be safer, so choose the most up-to-date model where possible.
Simple, single-shape teething rings and cooling teethers cost between $3 and $15. Integrated plush teethers run you between $5 and $20. If you're going the teething mitten route, expect to spend between $7 and $20.
Q. Why are there so many different types of teething toys?
A. Simply put, each baby has different needs and preferences when it comes to relief and stimulation. There are a variety of different textures, shapes, and grabbing styles to cover oral, visual, and motor development as well.
Q. What's the best way to clean a teething toy if it falls on the floor in a public place?
A. You might want to hold onto it until you get home and can thoroughly clean it, or you can carry baby-safe cleaning products for this situation. The most important thing is to make sure your baby doesn't put a fallen toy back in their mouth.
Teething toys we recommend
Best of the best: Vulli's Sophie La Girafe Teething Toy
Our take: A blast from the past that has made two generations of babies happy during teething.
What we like: All-encompassing sensory shape of a giraffe. So many shapes to nibble. Easy to hold.
What we dislike: Hefty price tag, but the quality justifies it.
Best bang for your buck: Manhattan Toys' Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teething Toy
Our take: Entertaining little ball that's budget-friendly. Brightly colored and easy for little hands to hold at any angle.
What we like: Rattle is engaging while babies grab and chomp on the pliable loops. High marks since it can be refrigerated.
What we dislike: Works better for back teeth.
Choice 3: Bright Starts' Snuggle Teether
Our take: Cute and cuddly to snuggle with or nibble on.
What we like: Budget-friendly. Great rubberized texture. Easily becomes a beloved buddy during teething stages, for parents and kids alike.
What we dislike: Frequent washing makes the crinkly middle area deteriorate over time.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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