I could never understand on one hand we insist on sterilized feeding bottles and boiled water for our kids, then on the other hand we hand them unsanitary teethers & chew toys.
Most of them are reused without properly disinfecting them. Often they touch unclean surfaces & hands and the babies tend to drop them multiple times. Some of the chew toys are filled with water to provide chilled soothing touch to the 4-8 month old who in pain due to fresh set of teeth. These fluid filled toys cannot be even boiled and wiping them with alcohol often ruins their colorful design patterns.
What I do is give fruits as chew toys. It could be a small piece of peeled carrot or a slice of apple. These are clean, healthy and nutritious for the baby and I can replace them with a fresh set every 5-10 minutes (which is the average attention span of most toddlers). I would be worried if any plastic or chemicals leached out of the commercial chew toys, but fruit juices from the natural toys are always welcome.
However care needs to be taken before preparing a chew toy from fruits:
1. the fruit/vegetable selected should be hard, smooth and consistent. So that you don’t have to worry about the toy damaging the tender mouth of the baby also its is hard enough that it does not disintegrate in the mouth (and pose a choking risk)
2. The seeds, splinters (esp of the apple core) needs to be manually removed, these pieces might get dislodged and choke
3. Clean the fruit and peel its outer surface
4. Ensure that the fruit is big enough that the baby cannot choke on it, yet it is small enough that the baby can play with it.
5. Adult supervision esp. till the day that your kid is old enough to eat
6. Choose tasty fruits which are easy to digest. Even though your kid has not developed teeth, his jaws will be able to squeeze some juice out of the fruit.
7. Consult with your doctor (I am not a certified medical practitioner)
8. There are some commercially available mesh that you can use for the fruits (optional). Otherwise the the peel around the slice of an orange is also safe enough (natural and economical)
For a kid who is fed on milk only, a fruit can be a refreshing change.