Are Teething Necklaces Safe for Babies?
October 19, 2020Teething necklaces have grown in popularity in recent years, as they are designed to help alleviate discomfort for babies as their teeth begin to come in. However, the FDA warns parents that these necklaces and similar products may pose a safety risk for babies and toddlers.
What are teething necklaces?
Teething necklaces are small necklaces intended to help relieve pain and discomfort associated with the teething process. They are also sometimes used for sensory stimulation in young children with special needs such as autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD), or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD.)1-2
These necklaces and bracelets are beaded jewelry, and the beads are usually made of amber, wood, marble, or silicone. While they are marketed to help relieve teething pain and aid in sensory development, most experts say that they are not safe for babies and encourage parents to find alternatives.1-2
Manufacturers and promoters of these products also claim that amber beads have a pain-relieving property that activates once the baby’s body temperature warms them. Promoters also claim that teething necklaces help stimulate the thyroid gland to control drooling and reduce inflammation in the ears, throat, stomach, and respiratory system.1-2
There is no scientific research or evidence to support these claims.1-2
What the Experts Say
Teething jewelry for babies is not illegal to make or purchase; however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made an official statement in 2018 saying these products pose significant choking and strangulation hazards to babies and toddlers.1 The FDA made the official warning after receiving reports of children choking on beads that broke off and of an 18-month-old being strangled to death by an amber necklace during a nap.2
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also does not recommend that infants wear teething jewelry.2-3
Alternatives to Teething Necklaces
Leading experts in infant safety and healthcare recommend choosing alternatives to teething jewelry to help relieve discomfort.
Both the FDA and the AAP recommend using the following1-2:
- Plastic and rubber chew toys that are large enough to not be choking hazards
- Cold washcloths (not frozen)
- Teething rings that are cooled or partially frozen (frozen solid teething rings are too hard for a baby’s mouth)
- Gentle massage on your baby’s gums (remember to wash your hands thoroughly before and after)
- Doctor-recommended medicine (numbing gels, sprays, and creams that contain benzocaine are NOT recommended for infants)
Parents who insist on using teething necklaces should follow these recommendations2:
- Always closely supervise children while they are wearing teething jewelry and never leave them unattended while wearing them, even for a short period of time.
- Always remove the teething jewelry when the child is sleeping (day or night.)
- Consider having your child wear wrist or ankle jewelry instead of a necklace. This won’t eliminate a choking hazard, as the beads can still fall off, but the risk of strangulation will be much lower.
If you have any additional questions or concerns regarding your baby’s teething, discomfort, or recommended products, consult your pediatrician.
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