Q&A Café: Amber Teething Necklaces
This post is part of the Alternative Mama Q&A Cafe series. If you have a question you’d like answered by Alternative Mama and by fellow readers, please feel free to submit one via the Contact page above, with Q&A in the subject line.
This weeks Q&A Café question comes from reader Michelle, who is expecting her first child (congratulations, Michelle!):
“I have a couple of friends who use Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces and swear by them for pain relief to the child. They put them on their children as soon as they started teething and leave them on 24 hours a day until teething complete (although one doesn’t have to leave them on constantly for them to work, apparently). I would like to use a natural approach for relief to my child such as this, but am struggling with the concept of putting a crystal beaded necklace on one so young, particularly leaving it on 24 hours a day. I am aware that crystal beaded anklets are also available and have the same effect but, again, it concerns me (my concern, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, is from a choking perspective – necklace getting caught, necklace/anklet breaking leaving small crystal beads accessible to small, curious minds).
I have spoken, to a degree, with my friends about them (and in no way at all am I condemning them for their decision to use them) but the only thing that has come out of it has been “you, as a mother, will have to decide what is right for you and your child”. However, I would love some insight/opinions/thoughts/help into this matter from a wider range of people as I’m sure it will enable me to make a more informed decision.”
Thanks so much for your question, Michelle! Amber teething necklaces are becoming very popular with parents and are a subject that is discussed frequently on our facebook page and others like it. I am glad to have the opportunity to write an informative post about amber teething necklaces so that others may benefit from this information, too.
What are amber teething necklaces?
Amber is a plant resin that has been used therapeutically since ancient times – Many civilisations revered amber as a protective and healing substance.
Amber teething necklaces are small necklaces designed for babies. They offer a natural form of pain relief for the child, and are also available in bracelet and anklet form.
Contrary to popular belief, the necklaces are not for chewing – the babies just wear them.
How do they work?
Amber contains a substance called Succinic Acid. This substance is naturally found in our bodies, and is completely safe. When the amber warms against the skin, tiny amounts of Succinic Acid is released onto the baby’s skin. Succinic Acid has anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties, and can be beneficial not only for teething but for illness and general well-being.
Although the effectiveness of amber teething necklaces has not been proven by any scientific studies, anecdata suggests that they can be very effective.
How do you use them?
For the amber teething necklace to work at it’s best, it should be worn 24/7. However, your child will still reap some benefits from it even if you choose to take the necklace off overnight or for bathing.
Squishy wears his amber necklace 24/7 when he is actively teething, and just during the day when he is not. It works for us because he is with me practically all of the time. The only time he is not with me is between the hours of 8 and 11pm, and for that time I can see him clearly on our video baby monitor. We co-sleep, so there is no way he could strangle himself or choke without me knowing about it in time to stop anything bad from happening.
Well, that sounds great, but does it really work? And is it safe?
Just like pretty much everything in the world of parenting, amber teething necklaces don’t work the same way for everybody. Some people find that they are a miracle cure for their baby’s symptoms of teething, and others… not so much.
For us, it definitely helps some. I’ve certainly not noticed an extreme difference, but it seems to help his general demeanour – especially if he is ill with a cold. Out of all of the people I know who have used them, there has been a great variation of reports of their effectiveness. The way I see it is that they are inexpensive, safe and natural, so are always worth a try!
The manufacturers of amber teething necklaces generally recommend that the necklace should be removed at night. I would absolutely agree with this recommendation in the case of a child that sleeps in a separate bed from the mother. One friend I know who doesn’t co-sleep wraps her baby’s amber necklace around her ankle during the night-time hours. Not something I would be comfortable with, but to each their own! I am happy to allow Squishy to wear his during the night whilst we are co-sleeping, but when that isn’t the case any more, I will certainly remove it at night. At the end of the day, you can only do what you feel most comfortable with as a parent.
Michelle, your observation of the choking risk is absolutely something that should be addressed. I purchased Squish’s necklace from a company that assured me that, in between the beads, there are knots to prevent the beads from scattering should the necklace snap. In addition to this, to drastically lower (or totally remove) the strangulation risk, the necklaces are designed to snap with relatively little force. I found this to be incredibly reassuring.
Which one should I buy?
It is important, first and foremost, to buy amber jewellery made from 100% raw Baltic amber. This is the stuff that works – the cheaper ones are processed and therefore not effective. They can be found fairly inexpensively – I found Squishy’s on eBay for £9.99 with free delivery. Again, just be sure that the one you buy is made from 100% Baltic amber.
In addition to this, it is thought that paler amber works better than darker amber. I was a little superficial when choosing ours; I preferred the look of the cognac-coloured amber over the butterscotch or honey-lemon shades. However the cognac shade is popular, so I figured it must work almost as well if not just as well. I would recommend steering clear of the darker beads; they look lovely but are supposed to be less effective, generally.
I hope this has been of some help to you, Michelle!
Readers! What are your experiences of Amber Teething Necklaces? Have you found them to be helpful for easing your child’s teething pain? Please do comment below and leave your experiences and tips for Michelle.