As parents there is nothing more difficult than seeing our little ones in pain or discomfort–it’s hard on them and on us. And teething babies are often uncomfortable: drooly, irritable and fussy.
You may have heard that amber teething necklaces are an effective way of soothing your little one during the teething process. The Baltic amber beads in the necklaces contain a substance called succinic acid. According to lore, when the beads are worn against the skin they warm, releasing the succinic acid and providing pain relief. (Note: the child is not supposed to actually gnaw or chew on the beads.)
Unfortunately, though it would be nice to find a simple, natural fix for teething, amber necklaces are not it. There is no scientific evidence that these necklaces have any effect at all on children. Worse, they pose a serious strangulation and choking threat. Most of these necklaces are purchased online, providing no guarantee that they are actually made with Baltic amber or with strings strong enough to keep them from breaking.
Whether they are genuine or not, infants and young children should never wear any type of jewelry around their necks, especially when sleeping or otherwise unattended. Anything around the neck of a child could potentially strangle the child, while beads could break off and be swallowed or cause choking. Don’t be drawn in by anecdotal stories. The risk to your child by these necklaces far exceeds any benefit.
On the positive side, there are natural, effective ways to ease the pain of teething. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:
- Chew toys. Plastic and rubber toys are great for soothing aching gums.
- Cold things. For help numbing and easing the ache and inflammation, try using damp washcloths that have been twisted and frozen (tie one end in a knot for better gnawing). Avoid teething rings that are frozen solid; they are too hard for children’s mouths.
- Massage. A light, gentle rub or massage might give your little one a lot of relief. Remember to wash your hands, then massage the sore areas in your baby’s mouth with your finger or knuckle.
- Medicine. When your baby is having a really tough time, ask your pediatrician about giving a dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol). Note: Numbing gels or creams that contain benzocaine are not recommended for infants.
Teething woes pass. Don’t waste your money and risk your child’s health on bogus products such as the amber teething necklaces.