Teething can be a difficult period for both parents and their babies. During this challenging time, you’re probably looking for natural ways to soothe your little one.
Some parents swear by amber necklaces as a natural way to treat teething symptoms. These strands of amber beads look a lot like adult necklaces. They are widely available and inexpensive. They are designed for on-the-spot teething relief for young babies.
But despite the hype, the use of amber necklaces is discouraged by medical professionals. They haven’t been proven effective, and jewelry of any kind can be dangerous for your baby.
What’s Behind the Hype?
Teething is a natural phase every baby goes through. But at the same time, the ensuing helplessness can be unbearable as your baby goes through pain and discomfort. In some cases, it may seem like you have tried everything, but nothing works.
In such scenarios, it’s only natural to look into any product that promises relief for your baby. The amber necklace is one such product.
Amber necklaces first became popular in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Many celebrities have since endorsed them, and parents in the United States have taken notice. This jewelry is widely available online, as well as in big box stores.
Claimed Benefits of Amber Necklaces
Makers of amber necklaces claim that these products can help alleviate teething pain naturally. The idea is to slip the strands around your baby’s neck. Your baby can chew on the beads whenever they get the urge to tame teething-related pain and discomfort.
When your baby bites the amber beads, they supposedly release a substance in reaction to your baby’s body temperature. These healing substances then go back into the bloodstream, much like a medication.
Other unfounded claims include:
- decreased inflammation
- improved thyroid function
- increased respiratory function
- decreased risk of ear infections
Some parents are attracted to the ease of use of amber necklaces. This potentially is easier than having to find a special toy, or applying an ointment to a baby’s gums.
Risks of Amber Necklaces
Unfortunately, amber necklaces are largely too good to be true. Manufacturers of the necklaces may take extra care in tying the beads so they don’t come loose. But just one component of the necklace coming loose can literally mean the difference between life and death if your baby chokes on a bead.
Due to serious choking hazards, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly urges parents not to use amber necklaces. Babies who sleep with their necklaces on are also at risk for strangulation.
If you do decide to use amber necklaces for your baby, the AAP recommends the following guidelines:
- Never leave your baby unsupervised with the necklace on.
- Remove the jewelry before naps.
- Never let your baby bathe or go to bed at night with the necklace on.
- Consider a bracelet alternative to prevent strangulation.
Safer Options for Teething Relief
Dangers and inefficacy outweigh any potential benefits of amber necklaces, so it’s best to avoid them entirely. Talk to your pediatrician about other methods of teething relief.
You can try:
- rubbing your baby’s gums with a cool finger or spoon (never use anything frozen)
- numbing ointments like Orajel that are placed directly on your baby’s gums (avoid products containing benzocaine)
- pain relief medications like children’s acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
- rubber chew toys (choose ones that are specifically designed for teething relief)
- a cool washcloth for chewing
When to Call a Pediatrician
Despite the claimed benefits, your safest bet is to skip amber necklaces. Instead of relying on jewelry, try teething options that are safe for babies.
Unfortunately, there seems to be little a parent can do to make teething pain and discomfort completely go away. But some of the above methods should help.
Teething is unavoidable, but there are certain situations that require a call to your pediatrician. This includes excessive crying from severe pain, or a high fever that won’t go away. Teething pain is worse for some babies than others. Reach out to your doctor if you suspect that your little one is having an unusually tough time.