Let’s get something straight. Amber baby teething necklaces are NOT safe. Moreover, they are absolutely useless.
Why do you need to avoid teething beads?
For some babies, teething can be a painful and long process. My little one had his gums swollen when he was four months old. His first two teeth – upper central incisors – came through the gum simultaneously when he was 4.5 months old. He suffered from runny nose, sleepless nights, nursing issues (he was exclusively breastfed then), irritability and excessive salivation. He drilled nonstop and chewed anything he could reach. Like most probably your baby’s is doing now.
When parents see their baby suffering, they feel lost. Not all of them are ready to use pain relievers each time their baby becomes fussy and is crying. They seek solutions that would make their baby calm and happy again. They are usually cheap: a Baltic amber teething necklace on Etsy would cost your about $6 with free shipping. Some of them would also look incredibly cute around your baby’s neck.
Popular belief ascribes Baltic amber with antibiotic and anti-inflammatory effect, with an ability to boost the immune system and have positive effect on heart, nervous system and kidneys. However, the only thing you can find behind this magical “healing” effect of amber is pseudoscience. And here is why.
The claim is that amber contains a substance called succinic acid that has some analgesic effect. The bad news is that succinic acid can be released from amber if it is heated to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit or about 200 degrees Celsius. Amber can never get heated to such temperature on your baby’s neck. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence that succinic acid can be absorbed by the body and relieve pain even when somehow applied to the skin. Therefore, amber does not work any better than placebo.
Meanwhile, what is now officially confirmed is that amber baby teething necklaces are NOT safe for children.
In December 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released an official warning about the choking and strangulation risks of teething beads. Necklaces worn around baby’s neck can suffocate them. Babies can also break the necklace and swallow the beads which may cause a choking hazard. The above-said is true not only for amber teething necklaces, but for any type of jewelry. Here is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding wearing any type of jewelry on your kid that contains small parts.
You can always consider safer alternatives to ease your baby’s teething discomfort
Cold helps numbing and can ease the ache and inflammation of gums. Many kids love teething rings. Keep teething rings cool, but not frozen. Otherwise, give a frozen ring few minutes to warm up or thaw it. If teething ring is too hard for your baby, dump a washcloth in a cold water, freeze it and give it to your baby to chew.
Massage of gums is a very gentle method to give your little one a lot of relief. Never forget to wash your hands beforehand.
If your baby is having a really bad pain, you can give him or her a dose of acetaminophen, but only after consulting with your baby’s pediatrician.
What you are not recommended to do: Although older generations of parents used alcohol to soothe teething pain, current medical recommendation is that no amount of alcohol is thought to be safe for infants. Some over-the-counter soothing products are not safe either. In 2018, FDA made a safety announcement about risk of serious and potentially fatal blood disorder from oral over-the-counter benzocaine products used for teething and mouth pain. According to the same statement, such products provide little to no benefits for treating oral pain.
If after all you still think of using amber to ease your baby’s teething discomfort, consider buying wrist or ankle bracelets and avoid wearing beads on your baby’s neck. Always supervise your child when he or she is wearing an amber bead and remove it while your baby is sleeping.
How did you ease your baby’s teething pain? Share your success story with us.