What to Know About Amber Teething Necklaces

The FDA warns parents not to use these products

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If you’ve spent any time around babies or toddlers recently, you may have seen a handful of them (if not more) wearing amber necklaces. These necklaces aren't just for accessorizing—many people believe that Baltic amber necklaces can help with teething pain. They’re not meant to be chewed or used as toys, just simply worn.

Of course, a child wearing anything around the neck naturally sets off some alarm bells, and you might be wondering about the safety of the necklaces. It is important to note that the FDA does not condone the use of amber teething necklaces; however, some people still use them. Learn more about both sides of the issue.

Why They're Used

Teething can start as early as 3 months and can be very uncomfortable for a baby or toddler. The gums can be inflamed and tender, and a slight fever and general irritability are not uncommon. Sleep disturbances, excess drooling, pulling on the ears, and lots of crying can be hard on both baby and parent, which is often what sends parents to try products like amber necklaces.

Baltic amber is made from fossilized tree resin. Amber contains succinic acid, which is released when the amber is warmed. Proponents of the amber teething necklaces say that when the necklaces are worn, the body heat warms the amber, releasing the succinic acid, which then gets absorbed into the skin.

It’s said that succinic acid is a natural analgesic, or pain reliever, and can also help boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.

This has not been empirically proved, so much of this is just word of mouth and anecdotal. There are no studies proving that the necklaces are actually effective at relieving pain.

Do They Work?

Despite the claims that succinic acid helps to relieve pain, there are no medical or scientific studies showing that amber or amber necklaces work. The FDA recommends that parents do not use amber teething necklaces at all.

According to a press release by the FDA, it's "warned that they [amber teething necklaces] should not be used to relieve teething pain in children or to provide sensory stimulation to persons with special needs, such as autism or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)."

This is because there have been reports of death and serious injury (strangulation and choking) to both babies and young children as a result of the necklaces.

Additionally, succinic acid is supposedly released into a baby's bloodstream while he/she wears the amber necklace. Not only is the quantity of the acid the baby will absorb not known, but the FDA has not considered the "safety or effectiveness" of succinic acid, according to the same press release.

Safety and Considerations

Some parents decide to try the necklaces anyway. It's worth noting, however, that they are not recommended. In addition, there is always the risk of choking if your child bites off a bead and swallows it, or infection or injury to the tooth could result if your child bites a bead and breaks a tooth, or a piece of the bead lodges itself in the gums.

Still, it's important to know the possible risks and then take steps to reduce any harm if you or someone you know decides to use an amber teething necklace.

Most importantly, do not let your child wear the necklace to sleep or while napping.

There are various tips to keep in mind if your child were to wear an amber necklace.

  • Supervise your child when he/she wears the necklace.
  • Make sure the necklace is the correct size. When around the neck, it should not be long enough for the child to bring it to his/her mouth—you should be able to fit two fingers between the necklace and the child’s neck, but the necklace should not be long.
  • Make sure it is real Baltic amber, and that the stones are raw and unpolished so the acid can escape.
  • Make sure each bead is separately and individually knotted, with proper safety clasps like a pop clasp safety release.

If your child is having a hard time teething, talk with your pediatrician. They might be able to provide you with some tips or tricks you haven’t thought of yet, as well as examine your child to ensure that what’s going on is just typical teething woes.

Alternatives

It can be hard to watch your child struggle with teething, but there are many things you can do to help make it less painful for them (and for you). Try these alternatives to amber teething necklaces.

  • chew teething toys made especially for teething babies and toddlers
  • damp washcloths that are twisted and frozen—this helps soothe inflamed gums
  • lightly massage sore areas with your (clean) knuckle or finger
  • ask your pediatrician about medicine you can give (like infant Tylenol or Motrin) when nothing else seems to give relief—avoid numbing gels or creams
  • if your child is older than 6 to 9 months, a slow-flow sippy cup of cold water might be soothing to sore gums

A Word From Verywell

While you may see babies and young children with amber teething necklaces, it's important to recognize that these products are not recommended by the FDA due to the serious threats they pose to a child. There are many helpful alternatives to the necklaces for a baby's teething pain. Try the ones listed here, or speak with your doctor to determine the best and safest alternative for you baby.

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