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8 best teething toys to ease pain and provide a distraction from discomfort

Keep your baby comfortable and entertained with these soft, gentle playthings

Zoe Griffin
Friday 05 May 2023 11:27 BST
<p>From wood and silicon to rubber, these toys went down a treat with our little testers </p>

From wood and silicon to rubber, these toys went down a treat with our little testers

Our Top Picks

Teething can turn even the most good-tempered of babies into a cranky, crying, ball of fury. It can be distressing for parents to witness the pain and not know where to start to relieve it. But offering them a teething toy is a reliable way to alleviate the pressure on their gums and make them feel a little better.

Made from wood, rubber or silicone, and usually with a friendly toy or rattle on the end, a good teething toy will distract a baby from the stinging sensation in their mouth as they figure out what it can do. And when they push their gums down on a teether, it provides counter-pressure to a rising tooth and massages the gums, making the pain diminish. Anything with bumps or groves will increase the massage sensation and potentially prove more enjoyable for your baby at this stressful time in their lives.

Dentist Dr Kam Aulak, clinical director at New Hall Aesthetics, advises: “You need to be confident that anything your baby puts in their mouth is completely safe for them to use. The ideal teething toys are reliable, hygienic, safe and a bit of fun too.

There are many types of teether on the market though and you might want to try a couple of options first to see which suits your baby best. Dr Aulak says, “There are teethers that double as toys and some that can be put in the fridge. But never put a teething ring in the freezer, as this could make it too hard or cold for your baby’s soft gums. Never tie a teething ring on a cord or ribbon around your baby’s neck either, to avoid the risk of strangulation.”

From monkeys and giraffes to an adorable otter, there are a variety of toys that are fun to look at as well as pleasant for your baby to bite down on. These are the best of the bunch.

How we tested

We tested a range of teethers of different textures including wood, silicon and rubber, on a nine-month-old baby and a seven-month-old baby. The seven-month-old was experiencing pain growing his first teeth while the nine-month-old had two bottom ones and was in a state about the top front teeth. Each teething toy was tested for how well it calmed a baby, how much the baby enjoyed holding it and how easy it was to clean and sterilise in between usage.

Some of the toys that secured a spot in this round-up

The best teething toys for 2023 are:

  • Best overall teething toy – Matchstick Monkey teething toy: £10, Boots.com
  • Best value teething toy – Infantino lil nibbles vibrating teether: £7.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best rubber teething toy – Sophie La Giraffe teether: £16, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk
  • Best for older babies – Mam baby cooler and clip: £6.15, Amazon.co.uk

Matchstick Monkey original teething toy

Matchstick Monkey original teething toy.png
  • Best: Overall
  • Material: FDA-approved food standard silicone
  • Suitable for ages: From birth

Easy on the eye, simple for a baby to grip and good for the bank balance at £10, this cute monkey made us smile in many ways. Launched in the UK in 2016 after winning backing from Touker Suleyman from Dragon’s Den, Matchstick Monkey offers a range of teethers in different shapes and sizes but we found the original was the easiest for our baby to grip and use independently, even from a few months old.

The monkey is made from FDA-approved food-standard silicone, is dishwasher and sterilisation machine safe and the back of the head features soft bumps that are gentle on a baby’s sensitive gums. Both of our baby testers quickly worked out to direct the monkey’s head to where they were feeling pain.

For extra relief, Matchstick Monkey suggests applying teething gels or granules to the bumps on the back of the head to ensure they directly reach the source of the baby’s pain. This toy can see them through all stages of teething from the front teeth to the molars as the ergonomic shape means it can reach all areas of a baby’s mouth.

  1. £10 from Boots.com
Prices may vary
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Cheeky Chompers teething survival kit

Cheeky Chompers teething survival kit.png
  • Best: Teething kit
  • Material: Food grade silicone, plus 95 per cent jersey cotton and 5 per cent elastane in the neckerchew
  • Suitable for ages: From birth

Packaged like a first aid kit for babies, this cute animal kit features everything you need to combat teething troubles. If you’re a parent who likes to feel prepared for all situations, you’ll appreciate the choice offered by Cheeky Chompers to equip you with the right toy for their needs for all teething stages.

A British family business, founded by two mums who’d been through the teething process multiple times, it’s clear this brand cares about babies and their parents. The website offers an incredible amount of free advice about teething and the survival kit comes with a QR code that parents can scan for even more practical solutions and tips. It also features five milestone cards, which you can use to snap photos with your baby, such as “my first tooth” and the back of the cards feature remedies or teeth charts, which you can tick off when each tooth arrives.

Our baby testers loved the cute hippo chewy toy but parents will appreciate the neckerchew, which is a thick bandana-style bib with a chew at the end. It’s a practical solution for the extra drool that a baby produces while teething and they can chew on the end of it too. Finally, the kit includes a starter flexi-brush toothbrush to gently massage and clean gums and new teeth.

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Kaloo home my rabbit teething ring

Kaloo home my rabbit teething ring.png
  • Best: For cute design
  • Material: Beech wood and silicone
  • Suitable for ages: From birth

Beautifully packaged and with a cute rabbit top, there’s an air of luxury about this teething toy, even though it’s just £11.99. It’s great for gifting, as it comes in a lovely box and parents are sure to appreciate the rabbit’s cute but minimalist aesthetic.

Out of the box, the mix of soft coral and beech wood looks calming and gentle on the eyes. If a baby, not long out of the womb, is confused and shocked about the sensations in their mouth, they won’t always appreciate a brightly coloured toy that dazzles their eyes. Hand them this, and they know exactly what to do. The silicone is lovely and soft, which would give relief for a little one’s gums, with the bumps adding an extra level of massage. There’s also the option of a wooden fox top.

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Fisher Price twist and teethe otter sensory baby toy

Fisher Price twist & teethe otter sensory baby toy.png
  • Best: Sensory teething toy
  • Material: BPA-free plastic
  • Suitable for: Three months plus

If you have a curious baby, who loves to keep busy and is constantly working out what things do, the Fisher-Price twist and teethe otter toy will stimulate their minds so they’re not thinking about pain. It features flexible rings that are easy for little hands to grasp, shake and twist for engaging sensory play. We loved that there are multiple teething options on the same toy. One day your baby could put a ring in its mouth and another day they might use one of the fish or star beads for gum relief. You can let your baby be the guide.

With so much to do, shake and twist, it also helps to develop a baby’s fine motor skills. The rattle beads reward your baby’s shakes with fun sounds while the otter has a fabric tail for extra sensory play. Made from BPA-free plastic, it’s easy to keep clean, but has a harder feel than silicone toys.

  1. £9 from Very.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Infantino lil nibblers vibrating teether toy

Infantino lil nibblers.png
  • Best: Value teething toy
  • Material: Silicone, BPA-free plastic
  • Suitable for ages: Three months plus

For less than £8, Infantino has upped the game in the world of teething toys and developed one that vibrates. There’s no need to switch it on or off, rather it reacts to pressure on the leaf or stem part, and gently shakes to provide extra counter pressure to a pesky tooth that’s fighting its way through the gum.

The vibration is extra soft, so not at all overpowering for babies, but it can take some getting used to. At first, our tester did drop it when it started vibrating. However, it’s worth sticking with as it doubles up as a first toothbrush. The bumps on the leaves act as mini toothbrush bristles to lift up grime in a baby’s mouth and the soft flat leaves of the apple can reach all parts of a baby’s mouth.

  1. £7 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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Sophie la giraffe teether

Sophie la giraffe.png
  • Best: Rubber teething toy
  • Matrial: Natural rubber
  • Suitable for ages: From birth

Among parents and grandparents, Sophie is famous. She’s one of the very first teething toys to offer a fun way to help babies and their carers through this developmental milestone, being made in France since 1961. And she’s still a hit today, with our testers reaching for her in the toy box, even when they didn’t appear to be suffering with any teething symptoms.

Sophie is no ordinary giraffe and no standard toy. She’s designed to awake baby’s five senses. Her squeaker stimulates hearing and keeps baby amused and her scent of natural rubber makes her easy for your child to identify amid all other toys. Natural rubber also feels soft and flexible in a baby’s tiny hands and means no man-made chemicals will be going into your baby’s mouth.

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Ivy Wild Kids teething ring

Ivy Wild Kids teething ring.png
  • Best: Silicone teething toy
  • Material: Food grade silicone
  • Suitable for ages: Three months plus

If you’ve ever handed keys to a child and seen their fascination with how the chains interlock, you’ll appreciate just how much fun they’ll get out of this teething ring. It consists of three rings that interlock. In vanilla yellow, duck egg blue and dusty pink, they’re calm and soothing to look at. Each ring features a bead for the baby to chew on or to play with, depending on how much pain they’re in.

For less than £10, you’re getting a toy that develops their fine motor skills as well as helps with the teething process. As the loop is slightly open, you can clip it to the bar of a buggy or pram to ensure teething relief is always to hand, as you never quite know when it will strike. Dishwasher-safe and fast-drying, it’s a joy to keep clean and looks as good as new after every wash.

The teething ring set is out of stock at the moment, but the brand has confirmed it will be back, so keep an eye on its page.

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Nuby banana teether

Nuby banana teether.png
  • Best: For ease of grip
  • Material: Silicone
  • Suitable for ages: Three months

The slim design of this banana-shaped toy is highly appealing for little hands. When placed into a pile of teething equipment, the yellow design and slim shape meant that this was the toy that was reached for first. The peel at the sides makes it easy for little ones to chomp down and they’re long enough to be able to reach the molars at the back when a child enters that stage of teething.

It doesn’t take up much room either, making it ideal to pack in your changing bag for use when out and about. Popping it in your baby’s steam steriliser next to the baby bottles will keep it safe and hygienic between uses. For a fiver, you can’t really fault it. Just make sure you don’t store it in a toy box with larger toys, as the slim shape could make it easy to misplace.

  1. £4 from Nuby.com
Prices may vary
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Mam baby cooler and clip

Mam clip and cool.png
  • Best: For older babies
  • Material: BPA and BPS free plastic
  • Suitable for ages: Two months plus

Mam has designed a simple but effective toy that can be stored in the fridge so you have something soothing to hand when your baby needs it. The unique shape perfectly reaches the back teeth as they come through. Babies can hold the ring and direct it to the backs of their mouths, allowing you to see where the pain is coming from and offering some reassurance that the discomfort is being soothed.

We loved the clip, which meant that the toy never got dropped on the floor even when it was discarded. Mam has been an expert in baby safety for over 40 years and it’s these little details that give that away. Founded in 1976 by the Austrian plastics engineer Peter Röhrig, the mission is to create extra-safe baby products that combine attractive, innovative design with proven medical benefits. It may not be as friendly to look at as a toy with an animal-shaped head or a rattle but it does the job of soothing gums brilliantly.

  1. £6 from Amazon.co.uk
Prices may vary
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FAQs teething toys

Dr Kam Aulak has some advice about the signs of teething and other ways to help your baby through the process.

What are the signs of teething?

One of the common signs of teething is constant dribbling. This can give your baby a sore rash on the chin or around the mouth. Gently wipe the dribble from your baby’s mouth from time to time to help prevent pain or soreness associated with a skin rash or irritation.

How can you help a teething baby?

Aside from teething toys, you could try crunchy (healthy) fruit and vegetables such as carrots or pieces of apple which can be chilled in a fridge. Note we need to avoid sugary foods, which can quickly decay a baby’s brand-new teeth. Rusks and teething biscuits aren’t recommended either, because they also usually contain sugar.

Also, try a clean wet flannel that’s placed in the fridge. Let the baby chew on the cold flannel which helps soothe their sore gums. Always remember to never leave a baby unattended with teething toys/ rings, food or wet flannel as they are potentially a choking hazard.

Massaging your baby’s gums in a circular motion with a clean finger can help provide some teething relief, too.

The verdict: Teething toys

A delight to look at and with clever bumps that calm a baby in seconds, the Matchstick Monkey original teething toy is the best £10 you’ll ever spend. However, if you’re looking for teething equipment that will last them from birth until three and offer reassurance for parents, you can’t beat the Cheeky Chompers teething survival kit. The Mam baby cooler and clip will also grow with them and offer safe and effective relief for many years.

Ensure you rest easy with the help of our best baby monitors round-up, from video to audio models

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