Homemade Teething Rings

Summary: Unsatisfied with the teething rings on the market, I made my own with surgical tubing and exercise bands.

WARNING: Be very careful when making your own teethers and always supervise your baby when using a homemade teether. If they can fit something in their mouth, it’s too small. If they can break it apart it needs to be redesigned. Basically, don’t be stupid and negligent.

My daughter kicking it in the grass with her home made teething rings. The one on the right is smooth and the left one is ribbed (for her pleasure).

My daughter kicking it in the grass with her home made teething rings. The one on the right is smooth and the left one is ribbed (for her pleasure).

As I discussed in a previous post my daughter has an intense need to chew.  She’s six years old now, and though more selective on how she expresses her oral inclinations, she’s still a put-things-in-your-mouth type kid. But hey, both of her parents are very oral so it’s no surprise that she came out that way as well.

Like most parents we tried about every teether on the market. She use them all to varying degrees but was not totally satisfied with any of them. She didn’t care for the knobby plastic ones that you freeze. Many of the other rings and chains were just too hard for any extended use.

She definitely enjoyed chewing on the wood shelving on our entertainment center as well as gnawing the face of her brown baby doll. As I examined her preferences, I came to the conclusion that she preferred things that have a little bit of give to them, but still retain their shape and provide a little bit of resistance.

Most of the teeters on the market were either just too hard too soft. So I started thinking, that would provide some resistance, have little or no texture, and bounce back into shape after repeated use?

Well  Thera-band excercise tubing and latex surgical tubing of course!

But how would I know that?

Five years earlier I was on disability due to tendonitis in my right hand and elbow from eight years of painting custom designs on ceramics and tiles at Marzi Sink factory. I also had an impingement in my right shoulder as my bone was rubbing up against my bursa. The tendonitis in my hand and elbow was ultimately cured by acupuncture after cortisone shots and rest had limited success. The bursitis was a different situation entirely as it was a result of an overdeveloped anterior deltoid muscle from years of holding my arm in front of my body while I painted the sinks. The only way to cure it was to strengthen the posterior deltoid muscles so it would pull the bone down and back into the socket, thus relieving the  pressure on the bursa. Trouble is, I was in so much pain I couldn’t do my exercises. So I got a cortisone shot in the shoulder and gave it another try.

The trick was to incorporate the client's fabrics, walpaper and deco tiles into our custom ceramic sinks

The trick was to incorporate the client's fabrics, wallpaper and deco tiles into our custom ceramic sinks. If you did your job right you could put the sample up to the sink and it should blend together perfectly. It took me 30 hours to paint this one. So glad it didn't crack in the kiln. It was a great job and I loved doing it but eight years of painting intricate designs inside sinks put me on disability.

I bought some Thera-bands and surgical tubing from Horsynder, a local pharmacy that specializes in rehab and adaptive devices. They had a great selection of bands and tubing and a bought a variety of resistance ratings.

Everyday I would connect the bands to the door and go through my exercises. They consisted of a variety of movements that involved rotations and pulling patterns and before long I could feel the rubbing on the bursa subside. I was impressed at how quickly it worked. Anytime I started feeling it rub the bursa again, I would just break out the bands.

So I got out my old bands and checked them over. Yep, this should work, and I headed over to Horsyners.

As I’m going through the boxes of surgical tubing, I notice these little one inch orange plastic pegs. They seem to fit very snugly and securely inside the tubing. I bring them up to the counter.

“How much of these orange plastic pegs?”

“Oh, we just get those in the boxes of tubing. We just toss them. You can have them.”

“Thanks!”

At home I’m figuring out what would be the best ring diameter and what interesting ways I can combined the surgical tubing with the Thera-bands. I start off with just making  one simple ring and use one of the orange pegs to secure them together. I have to lubricate the ends just to get them on. It was a very snug fit. Then I get some red Thera-band and tightly wrap it around a piece of surgical tubing, like a candy cane stripe, and again secure it together using another orange peg.

Looks good, time to try them out. I give them to my daughter and she just loves them. She would gnaw, stretch, twist, bend and slobber all over them. She used them for quite a while until one day she works one of the ends off the orange peg.  The other end of the peg  was still securely in the other end of the surgical tubing and seemed to be in no danger of coming out. My guess is she drooled on it so much that it re-lubricated the tubing and then through sheer brute strength she was able pull it apart.

I took it apart and cleaned it up and re-fastened it and it never came off again. Still it was a concern considering she did get off once before. If I had to do it again and I think I might just tie the ends or get a longer or thicker peg.

I though about marketing them and even ran the idea of a patent by my patent attorney friend. If I could just make sure that it would never come apart, they would be a  safe and attractive alternative to the hard plastic teethers on the market. Of course, being a new parent and also completely swamped with my own design business I just didn’t have the time to prototype the product and bring it to market.

And that’s the story of my homemade teethers. Below are some other photos guaranteed to make you go “awwwww”.

Homemade teething rings. Just surgical tubing, exercise bands and some creativity.

Homemade teething rings. Just surgical tubing, exercise bands and some creativity.

Homemade teether in a chain with store bought ones. She could switch back and forth depending on her mood.

Homemade teether in a chain with store bought ones. She could switch back and forth depending on her mood.

See, I told you so.

That’s it for now.

Further Reading:

An interesting selection of natural teethers.

A company that makes wood and cloth teethers.

Amazon is always a good place to start to find natural baby teethers

File Under: Making a Homemade Teething Rig – Teething Stories – Natural Teethers


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