Pros: great for oral-motor therapy!
Cons: doesn't really cut the mustard as a baby teether
On the advice of another mom on a parenting web site when my oldest was a baby, I ran out and got her The First Years Massaging Action Teether, which was supposed to be a miracle cure for the crankies when my daughter was cutting her molars.
Imagine my surprise when she hated it. It was too heavy and awkward for her little hands to hold well, and got dumped into the bottom of the "baby toy" bin. Of course, I somehow ended up with yet another one for my older son when he was a baby that again made it to the bottom of the toy bin. Imagine my surprise when I saw these in a catalog for kids with sensory issues some two years later. I dug them out, and they've been kicking around ever since.
~&~ The Basics ~&~
The First Years Massaging Action Teether had a very basic original design: a large, chunky plastic handle with a soft, chewy texture star top. The star's bottom two points sat on the base, and the top three points had different textures: one a raised line design, one a raised dot design, and one a recessed line design. The star also had an inset molded smiley face, and came in several color combinations. We have one that has a royal blue handle and yellow star, and another with a purple handle and teal star.
When baby chomped down on one of the three top points, the teether would vibrate, ostensibly providing relief to a teething baby. The battery was a non-replaceable battery to ensure safety for little ones, so this was a truly disposable item.
The newer design has a rounded handle shaped more like a baby rattle, which might be easier for babies to hold, but still has the same soft textured star shape on top and non-replaceable long-life battery.
~&~ Parents Perspective ~&~
As a baby teether, this was a complete bust. The handle was too clumsy and heavy for little hands, and the star shape was too wide for baby to figure out how to get it in his or her mouth. Getting the star points to vibrate took more fine motor skills than either of my older two had. The area that controlled vibrations was just too small.
Then my son presented with speech delays and my daughter with feeding issues as a result of their sensory integration issues, and one of the things suggested for both of them was oral-motor stimulation. We bought spin-pops and held vibrating toys up to their cheeks, and then one day, my son emptied the toy box and found The First Years Massaging Action Teether and I found him wandering around the house chomping on it and giggling.
Of course, if my son had one, my daughter had to have one as well, so I dug out the other, and discovered that I had much less arguing about taking time to work on oral-motor stimulation. Best of all, I don't have to offer lollipops as much any more, as this is a sugar-free way to get therapy done at home with little to no arguing.
~&~ Kid Value ~&~
We only have the old style The First Years Massaging Action Teethers, so I'm not sure how well the new design would fare with my toddlers. Pictures of it that I've seen make it look much more like a baby toy than the old-style ones do. As it is, I have no trouble getting my two to use these.
The greatest thing is that my children enjoy using these teethers to do their own oral-motor stim, which helps me out a great deal in terms of having to do it for them, and arguing about doing it. The fights are gone, and they'll often sit and watch a short video while chewing away on these.
~&~ Availability ~&~
The old-style The First Years Massaging Action Teether is still available through at least two therapeutic outlets: Innovative Therapists International (http://shop.azstarnet.com/cgi-bin/iti.storefront) and Abilitiations (https://www.abilitations.com/index.jsp).
The odds of winning a multi-state Mega-Millions Lottery Jackpot are 1 in 135,145,920. The odds of having a child with autism? 1 in 166. This review was written for Autism Awareness Month. For more information, please visit http://www.unlockingautism.org.