Pseudoscience or super solution? While there are many teething remedies for babies on the market, including the recent headline-making Sophie the Giraffe toy, amber teething necklaces may be the most hotly contested baby product in recent history.
The teething necklace for babies, which is made of Baltic amber, is said to alleviate pain and inflammation associated with teething. The amber beads are either worn as a necklace around the child’s neck or as a bracelet on their wrist or ankle. The string of amber beads is not meant to be chewed for teething, but rather to be worn against the child’s skin.
Riding the wave of the natural, organic craze, the oh-so-cute amber teething necklace for babies has exploded in popularity in recent years. But is it all it’s cracked up to be? Is there any science backing these necklaces? And are they safe?
We’ll answer these questions and more.
Thumbnail Photo: Flickr / lkonstanski
How Do Amber Teething Necklaces Work?
Teething necklaces made from real amber are said to be helpful pain and inflammation relievers due to succinite, a substance contained in the amber. Ambersos.com, one of the most reputable online retailers of the raw Baltic amber teething necklace, explains that “Baltic amber is the only type of amber you should use for healing. It is worn against the skin. The warmth of the skin against the amber will allow the body to absorb the healing element in amber.” The site goes on to explain that “the healing benefit of amber has been known about since ancient times. Amber has been used throughout Europe for generations.”
Do Amber Teething Necklaces Work?
The success of amber teething necklaces is largely a matter of opinion, since babies can’t articulate whether they work or not. But moms are deeply entrenched on both sides of the argument, with some swearing they’re a lifesaver and others proclaiming them “the newest and cutest baby strangulation device” (Jennifer Taylor for Momtricks, 10/19/16).
Science largely agrees with the naysayers on this one, though. In his groundbreaking article “Amber Waves of Woo,” Dr. John Snyder details several misconceptions about amber teething necklaces. “Though Baltic amber does contain succinic acid, there is no evidence that it has analgesic effects at any dose, let alone the minuscule amounts that might conceivably enter the body through this route.” He goes on to say that “there is no evidence that succinic acid is released from amber on contact, or that warming it to body temperature would facilitate this. If it was released, there is similarly no evidence for transdermal absorption.”
Despite this, many moms feel that the Baltic amber teething necklace has made a huge difference in their home. Alyssa Queensberry from Green Bay, Wisconsin, says, “It works wonders! He has 10 teeth and is the happiest kid on the planet.” Megan Boyles of Newport News, Virginia, agrees: “We loved them. Our boys used them until their 2-year molars were through. I did think they worked well to reduce pain.”
Are Amber Teething Necklaces Safe?
Others aren’t so sure. Moms who’ve decided to skip the amber baby teething necklace fad feel equally as strong as their necklace-using counterparts, and for a variety of reasons.
Sarah Pankenier, mom of three and a Pediatric ICU nurse from Ashburn, Virginia, says: “I would never use an amber teething necklace. It is a definite ‘no’ for safety. I think sleeping with it on or wearing it in a car seat would be the most dangerous.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with her, strongly cautioning parents against the use of jewelry of any sort on a baby or young child. On the website healthychildren.org, pediatrician Natasha Burgert says that “the risk is two-fold: strangulation and choking.” Though the number of incidents is admittedly low, there was one death possibly attributed to an amber teething necklace in 2016, and a near miss in 2015 when a sleeping toddler got her arm lodged between her necklace and her neck.
Alternative Teething Remedies
Sadly, amber teething necklaces are not the only teething remedy that have come under fire lately. Orajel and Anbesol both contain benzocaine, a numbing agent that has been associated with a condition called methemoglobinemia, which occurs when oxygen in the blood falls to dangerously low levels. More recently, several brands of homeopathic teething tablets were found to contain “inconsistent levels of belladonna,” a poisonous, plant-based substance.
There are several safer teething remedies to relieve baby’s painful gums. Try a cold washcloth wrapped around your finger, a plastic teething ring, or a mesh teether with cold or frozen fruit. Or, if you really want to opt for a necklace, why not a necklace for mom? We’re in love with these top-rated Beabies Silicone nursing/teething necklaces! The large silicone beads are meant for teething babies to gnaw on without the risk of having it around their own neck.
Where To Purchase An Amber Teething Necklace
If you do decide to try an amber necklace for teething, be sure to purchase from a reputable source. This is important for several reasons. First, if you’re going to spend money on a teething necklace for baby, you want to know that it’s made of real amber. If you’ve already purchased one, use these tests to determine whether it’s real or not. Secondly, a good-quality raw Baltic amber teething necklace will have individually knotted beads and a breakaway clasp.
We found three online retailers with solid reputations and good reviews:
1. Balticcreations.com – This company, found both online and in Missouri, sells a wide variety of products, including raw and polished amber. They have necklaces and bracelets in a variety of sizes, including for adults.
2. Knickernappies.com – This is an online retailer that specializes in cloth diapering and related accessories, but they also sell amber teething necklaces with a good reputation for quality among parenting forums.
3. Amberartisans.com – According to their website, their “products are exclusive, 100% natural Baltic amber and are assembled and polished entirely by hand. Our master craftsmen employ centuries-old techniques to perfect each amber bead.”
Although there is rising controversy regarding amber teething necklace safety, most parents who use them tend not to worry too much since the beads are individually knotted and the clasp is designed not to catch. Despite these safety features, parents need to consider whether the benefits outweigh the risks before purchasing an amber teething necklace for their baby.
What’s your opinion on amber teething necklaces? If you use one, has it worked wonders to reduce pain and fussiness in your baby? Please SHARE this article with others who may be deciding whether or not to use a teething necklace.