Are Amber Teething Necklaces Safe For Babies?

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It’s a new and growing trend among many moms lately.  Scroll through your social media feed, and you are sure to find a picture of a baby wearing an amber colored necklace somewhere.  I first started noticing them last year, and thought it was odd for young babies to be wearing such a thing.  Are they beneficial? Surely it must be a choking hazard, so why are so many moms choosing to have their babies wear them?

 

 

Amber teething necklaces can usually be purchased in health food stores, from smaller vendors, and online.  Whattoexpect.com shares the premise behind why moms think the necklaces are beneficial, and also gives a warning:

“Supposedly, when beads made of Baltic amber are worn against your baby’s skin, body heat triggers the release of a minute amount of oil that contains succinic acid, a naturally occurring substance in the body. When the oil is absorbed, fans of these beads say it has an analgesic effect on swollen, sore gums. Yes, it’s drug-free and natural, but there’s no medical proof that amber teething beads offer any true benefit. Combine that lack of evidence with the choking and strangulation dangers, and the necklaces have three big strikes against them. Bottom line: Save your money and maybe, your baby’s life.”

Australian mom Ashleigh Ferguson used an amber teething necklace, and was horrified when she went to check on her 21-month-old daughter during the toddler’s morning nap in February.

“Ellie is a really light sleeper so I was worried when she didn’t even move when I walked in. I rolled her over and saw she had got her arm underneath the necklace and twisted it around. I undid the necklace and took it off her straight away and thankfully she started to rouse.”

During sleep, Ellie had managed to twist the small necklace into a figure 8, the pressure of it leaving deep marks on her neck and arm left. They took more than 12 hours to disappear.

Ferguson was shaken by the incident and hates to think about what might have been.

“It could have ended so differently if I hadn’t checked on her and she had twisted it tighter, I just hate to think about it,” the mom-of-two said.

France and Switzerland have already banned the necklaces.

“The risk is two-fold — strangulation and choking,” said Dr. Natasha Burgert, a pediatrician in Kansas City, Mo., who has blogged about the dangers of amber necklaces. “And that’s not only for these teething necklaces. In general practice, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend that infants wear any jewelry.”

Many moms still swear by the beads, and there are lots of fans that won’t be dissuaded despite warnings. There are still tried and true methods of helping your teething baby with pain and discomfort.  Try these methods suggested from Whattoexpect.com instead:

Chewable toys. Wood, plastic, rubber…any of these materials will soothe aching gums thanks to the counter pressure of gumming. Textured surfaces tend to offer more relief, but any toys your baby likes are fine. (For safety’s sake, choose teethers — and all toys, for that matter — on the larger size. Not sure it’s safe? Any toy that can fit inside a paper-towel tube or toilet-paper roll is too small for your baby.)

Cold stuff. Chilling your baby’s gums provides some serious numbing action, which helps ease the ache and inflammation. Frozen wet washcloths (tie one end in a knot for better gnawing) work great, as do chilled teething rings (just make sure they’re not so rock hard that they could bruise tender gums). Also effective: chilled spoons and pacifiers, ice water in a sippy cup or bottle, and frozen bananas, applesauce, or peaches inside a mesh teether.

Massage. A mini rubdown might give a lot of relief, at least temporarily. Thoroughly wash your hands, then massage the sore spots in your baby’s mouth with your finger or knuckle — just be prepared to experience some jaws of steel!

Medicine. When your little one is having a really tough time and nothing seems to be working, ask your doctor about giving him a pain reliever.

Trendy?  Absolutely.  Cute?  Sure!  But, most experts and baby blogs/websites agree that these necklaces aren’t proven to be beneficial to babies, and are not worth the risk.

Does your baby wear a teething amber necklace?  Do you think there’s any risk involved?

 

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