Teething biscuits: Does your baby need them?

My daughter is almost six months old. She already has two lower teeth. My mother suggested that I give her teething biscuits. Is that safe or necessary? She already enjoys cereal, fruits, and veggies.

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Babies all mature at different rates. This is true even for the ability to chew and swallow. For some six month olds, a properly chosen teething biscuit would be perfectly safe, yet for others, especially those who have not yet started solids, it would not. You will have to use your judgment and knowledge of your daughters chewing ability.

Because you already have her on solids, it may be fine to introduce them to her. Does she eat any other finger foods such as Cheerios or toast? Is she able to hold onto something to chew? If she does, then you can certainly try a teething cracker.

Judicious selection of an appropriate teething cracker should include testing to be sure that chunks that could cause choking don't readily break off of the cracker as you try to teeth on it. Mimic a baby gummy and scraping with their few teeth. If the cracker stays intact while dissolving away as a baby gnaw on it, then it would make a good teething tool. Zwieback crackers have these characteristics, also, a stale bagel acts as a great teething biscuit. Be careful if you make some yourself that they fit this description.

Are they necessary? Certainly they are not from a nutritional standpoint. There are other ways to get the nutrition offered in a teething biscuit. That does not mean they can't contribute nutritionally to a baby's diet, because they can. They may be a good source of complex carbohydrate and energy as well as some B vitamins and minerals.

From a developmental standpoint, they can help baby practice feeding them self. They provide relief from the teething irritation, and they can be a great thing to give a hungry baby to pacify them as you try to get their dinner on the table. They won't be able to eat enough of it to interfere with a mealtime appetite, but it will perhaps give you a few extra minutes to make sure you a putting together a really healthy meal for baby.

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