Amber teething necklaces seem to be a miracle cure for upset babies that just need some relief from the painful process of cutting teeth. But these necklaces may not be as safe or as effective as parents might think.
When our teething baby is hurting, we as parents want to do everything in our power to make the pain go away. Every child experiences teething, of course, but some are able to endure it better than others. Over the years, strategies for helping your child get over the pain of teeth have expanded and changed. Orajel, once thought of as a great way to numb your child’s gums through the hardest part of teething is now a big no-no due to the risk of developing Methemoglobinemia.
Amber teething necklaces, which made their appearance several years ago and have been growing in popularity, are now being hailed as potentially dangerous. Are they? Aren’t they? Let’s look at amber teething necklaces and see if they’re unsafe, ineffective, or as miraculous as some believe.
What is an amber teething necklace?
Genuine baltic amber is fossilized tree resin, better known as sap. Amber produces Succinic Acid, which used to be used as an anti-inflammatory. It’s also been said to create an analgesic (pain reducing) effect. Baltic amber necklaces are made when these amber beads are strung together, and many parents claim that when their infants wear these teething necklaces, it helps relieve teething pain, teething discomfort, helps to control drooling, helps to reduce inflammation in baby’s mouth and has general healing properties.
The only problem is, they also pose a choking hazard if beads were to come off, as well as they pose a significant strangulation risk.
Do amber teething necklaces really work for teething pain and teething symptoms?
People’s opinions about the effectiveness of amber teething necklaces varies. There is no concrete scientific evidence that says amber teething necklaces will reduce your child’s pain. However, some parents strongly support the argument that these necklaces not only reduce pain but also reduce drooling and help soothe and comfort the child.
In my 20 years + working in child care centres, I have seen some parents who swear by the effectiveness of these amber necklaces, but I have also had to warn these parents of the dangers they pose. I also never allowed these children to sleep with these necklaces on and I communicated to all staff about the dangers these necklaces can pose. I have never used one with my own son and I believe there are better alternatives out there when it comes to managing teething pain and drooling.
Amber teething necklaces are said to soothe your baby’s teething pain due to succinic acid found in baltic amber. When the amber necklace is placed around your child’s neck, the succinic acid slowly seeps into your child’s skin and into their bloodstream. Supposedly your child’s body heat initiates this process. When the oil enters the bloodstream, it’s said to help with pain relief, inflammation, and even drooling.
Are amber teething necklaces safe?
Amber teething necklaces can possibly be safe if monitored and used correctly, but they can also be deadly. In 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned against teething necklace use. Within the last five years, medical experts have strongly advised against using teething necklaces, and if you do, monitor your children very closely. Amber teething necklaces can pose two dangers: strangulation and choking.
These necklaces are not made for children to chew on. A bead could break or pop off and become lodged in your child’s throat, posing an extreme choking hazard. You can read my article HERE on the importance of having First Aid knowledge. Strangulation can also occur if the child is not closely monitored and if the necklace is worn during inappropriate times, such as when your child is sleeping. Unfortunately, strangulation warnings came at a high cost after Danielle Morin lost her 18 month old son, Deacon.
While at daycare during naptime, Deacon’s amber teething necklace strangled him as he slept. Morin arrived at her child’s daycare to the sight of fire trucks and emergency vehicles. She was then informed that her son was rushed to the emergency room when the workers found him unconscious. Tragically, Morin’s son was pronounced dead five days later. Upon further investigation, Morin’s son was wearing an amber teething necklace that did not have a breakaway clasp but instead had a screw clasp, meaning even if pulled upon, the necklace would not come off. Morin now uses her TikTok platform as a place to share her story and the dangers of your child wearing an amber teething necklace.
Are people still buying amber teething necklaces?
Though there is continuously increasing research leading to the safety hazards of amber teething necklaces, they are still on the market and parents still see them as a viable option for soothing their baby’s teething pain. Luckily there are amber necklaces that are made with breakaway or pop clasps; this way, if the necklace tightens on your child’s neck, theoretically they are able to pull on the necklace and it will pop open the clasp, relieving them of the pressure. In addition, a seller of amber teething necklaces suggested making sure your child is correctly fitted – not too tight or too long – for his/her necklace.
That being said, The Australian Dental Association and Red Nose strongly recommend not using amber teething necklaces, France and Switzerland banned pharmacies from selling said necklaces, and Ireland and Canada issued consumer product safety warnings, not to forget the above-mentioned FDA warnings.
Can amber teething necklaces be used safely?
Yes, amber teething necklaces can be used safely. Make sure your child’s necklace has a breakaway clasp, is properly fitted to not be too tight or too long to get caught in things, and never let your child sleep with their necklace on. Children who are wearing these necklaces must also be constantly supervised, to ensure they are not chewing on the necklace or the necklace is not causing any other problems. You can read about Baby Sleep Safety HERE.
Where can you buy amber teething necklaces?
Amber teething necklaces can be bought online at popular sites like Etsy and Amazon, department stores like Target, children’s stores, and boutique shops. Places to buy amber teething necklaces are numerous so if you decide to purchase one for your child, make sure you put forth the research before buying.
Amber teething necklaces are still widely used by parents hoping to soothe their baby’s teething pain. However, there isn’t any scientific research that shows these necklaces are actually effective against pain, inflammation, or drooling (as some parents and sellers claim). Amber teething necklaces have also been recently hailed as a potential danger to babies and toddlers due to the risk of choking and strangulation. Danielle Morin’s son was a tragic example of the harm amber teething necklaces can pose. It’s also a good reminder of the importance of knowing your D R S A B A C D!
Many countries have either banned the selling of such necklaces or put strict warning labels on them so consumers are aware of the risks. Though amber teething necklaces are gaining negative popularity, they are still being bought and sold at a rapid rate. If you as a parent have decided to test the effect of amber teething necklaces on your child’s teething pain, remember to research how the necklace will fit your child and if it has a breakaway clasp, when purchasing. Closely monitor when your child is wearing the necklace and never let your child wear it when sleeping.
Hopefully, the necklace has a positive effect and dulls your child’s pain; if not, remember there are other options that can help your child’s pain and discomfort during teething.