More Australian mothers than ever before are giving the thumbs up to Baltic amber teething necklaces for curing more than just a little teething pain.
Baltic amber has centuries of history with traditional medicine in Europe, and more recently the use of amber for teething relief has become popular in many other parts of the world, including Australia.
Although naysayers have called the amber teething necklace a mere placebo, many parents who have used them are convinced with the results. BellyBelly forum member, det, says this about amber teething necklaces:
“I swear by them – my two year old son has gotten through teething without a mumble with his teething necklace on. I actually notice it when i take it off rather than when he has it on. It is also ace to help with nappy rash and that dribble rash they get around their mouths.”
How Are Amber Teething Necklaces Made? What Are The Benefits?
The beads on the necklaces are made of amber, which is fossilised plant resin from the Baltic sea. The resin is polished and made into a necklace. The beads are not stone and quite small in size, making them lightweight.
Many websites have started to pop up promoting the health benefits of amber, specifically for teething babies, offering the necklaces (and anklets) for sale. You can even purchase matching amber necklaces for mum and baby, in colours ranging from buttery yellows to earthy browns.
Baltic amber has been used for centuries for teething and is renown for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. This is how it's said to be helpful for soothing red inflamed cheeks and gums.
In addition to assisting with reducing pain, drooling (for which amber is said to work by stimulating the thyroid glands) and irritability that is often associated with teething, Baltic amber is believed to help relieve eczema, speed up wound healing and stave off ear and throat inflammation, amongst other ailments.
“Love love love them. Miss 3 year old has gotten a mouth full of teeth with no medicinal pain relief at all and has been wearing one since she was around 4 months old. I understand she might just be an easy teether but I didn’t want to take the risk and remove her necklace. Plus she loves it so that’s a bonus!” — BellyBelly Forum Member, Sarah
Amber is also said to help with concentration and the body's reflexes. It offers an energy boost and has positive effects for the nervous system and the heart. Because these little wonders come from nature, they are also good for the environment, and are a great alternative to synthetic pain relief medications, reducing exposure to the ingredients contained in teething gels.
You may assume that babies need to chew on the beads to get relief – but the effects are actually said to come from the beads touching skin, when body heat causes the amber to release succinic acid. The acid isn't exclusive to amber – its found in many plants and animals. The beads should NOT be chewed at all and the necklace should be short enough so that it cant be placed into the mouth.
“LOVE IT!!!! My two year old daughter had 16 teeth by her first birthday and never had any medication to help with pain because she didn’t need it!! She’s never been a dribbler either.” — BellyBelly Forum Member, skybie
Are There Any Downsides to Amber Teething Necklaces?
There are a few of things to consider about amber teething necklaces.
Firstly, although many mothers are finding amber teething necklaces to be effective, not all mothers do. Some report no change after using them.
However there are two points to make here – one being to make sure you buy genuine Baltic amber. Some people have reported being sold plastic or glass beads (which was being fobbed off as amber), which would have zero effect. Several amber retailers now offer guarantees and certificates of authenticity to reassure their customers.
Another minor consideration is to expect to get a few questions or comments about them, as amber teething necklaces are not yet widely recognised in Australia. Some people may assume the necklaces are an unnecessary accessory for such a young child, just like pierced earrings. In this case, the best thing to do is to compare amber teething necklaces to using copper or magnetic bracelets which people wear for arthritis or pain.
Thirdly, those unfamiliar with amber teething necklaces may be concerned with the safety of the necklaces – specifically the choking hazard if they break and the beads fall off.
It’s definitely worth a try if you want to give something natural a go, before pharmaceutical gels. There are always other things you can resort to for teething relief if Baltic amber doesn’t work for your baby.
Are Amber Teething Necklaces Safe?
Just like any necklace, there is the possibility that it may break if enough force is used, however makers of teething necklaces do their best to ensure their products are as safe as possible, and it is unlikely your baby will have the strength to break it themselves. Most amber teething necklaces are made so that the necklace is knotted or double knotted either side of each bead – so if the necklace does happen to break, only one of the very small beads will fall off. Even if the bead is swallowed, amber is non-toxic. Europeans started using amber in traditional medicine long ago.
Also, clasps on amber teething necklaces usually consist of a screw clasp for added safety. Because the beads are supposed to sit on the skin and not be chewed, the necklace length is usually short – so they don’t hang down like usual necklaces, which would make them easy to catch on things. Most younger babies don’t even realise its on or go to grab it.
The Queensland Government Office of Fair Trading offers the following tips:
- Supervise the infant when wearing the necklace
- Remove the necklace from the infant when the infant is unattended even if it's only for a short period of time
- Remove the necklace from the infant while sleeping during the day or overnight
- Do not allow the infant to chew on the necklace
- Always seek medical advice if you have any concerns about your child's health and well being
- Read more of our members think of amber teething necklaces in our teething forum.
Amber Teething Necklaces And SIDS
We have addressed this issue in another article, Amber Teething Necklaces and SIDS.
There was a hoax going around the internet (early 2013) about an amber teething necklace causing a case of SIDS. Amber teething necklaces do not cause SIDS – it is simply not true. Babies through Eastern Europe have been wearing them for centuries.
The proven biggest increased risk factors for SIDS are unsafe sleeping conditions, if the baby is not breastfed or where the parents are smokers. For more information check out our article on SIDS and SIDS Risks.
Make sure you get yourself informed and buy a quality teething necklace – if its cheap or doesn’t reassure you of it’s strength and authenticity (genuine amber, not plastics), its probably worth giving a miss.
Looking For An Amber Teething Necklace?
Check out the BellyBelly Directory for amber and other teething products here.