Did You Know?
There are teething necklaces that moms can wear, which the child can grasp, gnaw, and suck.
Teething can be difficult, not just for the baby but also the parents. The pain and fever can cause you and your baby to spend many sleepless nights. From teething medicines to chewing toys, there are many ways to provide temporary relief to the child. One such alternative way of providing teething pain relief are amber necklaces. Made from natural Baltic amber, these necklaces are placed around the baby’s neck to help soothe the pain of teething.
So, how do amber necklaces work? The necklaces are made from Baltic amber, which is a fossilized plant resin from the Baltic sea. Baltic amber contains between three to eight percent succinic acid, which is believed to have an analgesic effect. When the necklace is worn, the skin’s warmth helps release succinic acid. Marketers selling these necklaces claim that the amber apparently soothes red inflamed cheeks and gums, and stimulates the thyroid gland to reduce drooling. Are these claims genuine, and are these necklaces placed around the baby’s neck, wrist, or ankles safe for the child?
One of the main dangers of putting any cord, string, or necklace around a baby’s neck is that it poses a strangulation risk. Some people believe that they can mitigate the risk to the baby by placing the necklace when he/she is awake and under supervision. Others tie the beads around the wrist and ankles when the baby is sleeping. However, accidents can happen, and you are advised never to put anything around the baby’s neck. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend any form of jewelry for infants.
Moreover, if the baby manages to snap the necklace, the beads can pose a choking risk. A child may accidentally swallow the bead and choke on it. Some vendors say, the necklaces are safe because the string is knotted between each individual bead, so even if the necklace breaks, only one bead falls off. However, even a single bead can cause harm. In addition, small parts can break off and cause choking as well. Since most of these necklaces are made by unidentified vendors, there are no manufacturing standards associated with these products.
Unlike other teething aids like chewable toys, parents are advised not to let their babies chew the amber necklaces. This is the reason amber teething necklaces are made short enough so that they do not reach over the baby’s chin. However, teething children are quite tenacious about finding something that they can chew on. Even if you place it under the child’s clothes, he/she can pull it and end up snapping it. Placing it around the wrists and ankles makes it easier for them to gnaw on.
According to the vendors who sell these necklaces, the necklace with beads made of Baltic amber when worn against a baby’s skin, utilizes the body’s heat to release minute amount of oil that contains succinic acid. This acid is believed to possess not only analgesic but anti-inflammatory benefits as well. There are, however, no medical proofs substantiating these claims. Succinic acid is produced in the body (and in plants) as part of the citric acid cycle. It is also used as a food acid in the food and beverage industry. There have been no scientific studies to substantiate the anti-inflammatory or general analgesic properties of amber. On the contrary, in bulk, this acid is regarded as a skin and respiratory irritant.
Moreover, even if they did possess analgesic properties, it is unlikely that mild heating could release enough acid to soothe the pain associated with teething.
Based on the lack of efficacy and the potential for harm, it is safe to say that amber teething necklaces are unsafe for babies. Teething can lead to an extremely unhappy child and frazzled parents, but avoid falling for these false claims that can do more harm than good. Instead, soothe teething pain by using medically-approved creams that can be applied directly to the gums, or use teethers or frozen washcloth to ease the pain.