Babies-Toddler Vivian | 07 Jan 2011 11:00 am

What Has The 1683 Austrian – Turkish War Got To Do With Baby Teething?

Baby teething has always been a time of anxiety for parents. Many have sought natural remedies to ease teething pains of their children. One such natural aid used to help ease teething pains was invented as a direct result of the 1683 Austrian-Turkish War.

The Turkish Ottoman Empire had, for centuries, ambitions to rule central Europe. In 1683, in an attempt to conquer the Hapsburg Empire, the Ottoman army laid siege to Vienna. They were eventually defeated, and legend has it that a local Jewish baker created the world’s first bagel as a gift for King Jan III Sobieski of Poland to commemorate the King’s victory over the Turks. The baked good was fashioned in the form of a stirrup (or horseshoe, tales vary) to commemorate the victorious cavalry charge; the name bagel originated from beugal (stirrup). But what’s this got to do with teething, you may ask? Well, for many years, the bagel has been used as a teething ring. Its shape makes it easy for infants to grasp and the firm texture makes bagels ideal as something on which babies can ‘cut their teeth’.

Bread has been used as a nutritious and safe teething aid for centuries. In the late 18th century the English physicians George Armstrong and William Buchan are on record in urging the use of breadē§rust as a teething dummy. Bannock bread is a traditional Scottish Highland bread – the name refers to griddle or girdle cakes made with oatmeal, barley meal, pease-meal. Special kinds of bannocks were baked to commemorate certain dates and events. Bannocks were baked for a child’s birth (Cryin’ Bannock), and there was a Teethin’ Bannock baked with a ring in it which was later used as a teething ring. Iceland has a type of branch bread: crisp unleavened bread made without yeast and designed to keep, and was often used as an excellent teething ring. German-speaking countries often used Lutschbeut, which was a cloth wrapped round sweetened bread.

Teething rusks aren’t something new. They were derived from the original zwieback bread. These bread slices have been baked a second time, making them crisp and dry. Teething biscuits aren’t new either. They declined in popularity somewhat as parents began to use pacifiers and teething rings made from rubber, latex and plastic. There has also been concern that they contained too much sugar and preservatives. But in recent years there has been a resurgence thanks to biscuits that contain very little or no sugar, are free of preservatives and are made from organically grown wheat and oats.

Using breads, rusks and biscuits as and aid to easing your child’s teething pains can be a great idea. Bread is wholesome and nutritious. Modern pacifiers and teething rings made from man-made materials aren’t. Neither are teething gels. It is true that some babies can be allergic to gluten which makes bread unsuitable for use as a teething remedy; if you have a history of gluten intolerance in your family your should probably avoid bread. If in doubt, consult your pediatrician.

Many different types of bread have been used for many centuries to ease infants teething discomfort. I’m sure you some of you will have heard of other types of bread that have been used. I’ve never heard of pita bread ever being used as a teething remedy; perhaps things might have been different if the Ottomans had been victorious in 1683.

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