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The Dangers of Amber Teething Necklaces: What Parents Need to Know

May 10, 2023
baby teething

Teething is one of the first milestones parents of little ones know all too well. And when baby is cranky or not sleeping well, many parents will do just about anything to help them feel better. It’s important that the solutions parents turn to, however, are safe. Amber teething necklaces are popular in many parenting circles, but they are not a safe option for baby for two main reasons:

  1. The beads are a choking hazard. The chances of your baby chewing off a bead and choking on it are pretty high, and supervision will not help.
  2. The necklace itself is strangulation hazard, especially if worn while sleeping or otherwise unsupervised. Because suffocation is the leading cause of death for children under a year old and among the top five causes of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend that infants wear any jewelry.

In a 2018 media release, the FDA “alerted parents, caregivers, and health care providers to the safety risks that jewelry used for relieving teething pain pose for children. The agency warned that they 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). The FDA has received reports of death and serious injuries to infants and children, including strangulation and choking, caused by teething jewelry, such as amber teething necklaces.”

If the safety risks aren’t enough to steer you away from amber teething necklaces, it is important to understand that there is no scientific evidence that these necklaces work. Retailers claim that when a baby chews on the amber, their body heat releases a small amount of oil from the amber that contains a pain reliever to help numb sore gums. However, there is no evidence that the oil relieves pain.

So what’s a parent to do? There are lots of safer ways to ease your child’s teething pain:

  • Teething toys: Choose plastic or rubber toys that won’t fit in a toilet paper roll (if they fit, they’re a choking hazard). Babies tend to have their own unique preferences, but many babies gravitate towards toys that are textured.
  • Simple cold things: Cooling off those gums is both distracting and numbing for baby. Freeze a damp washcloth (twist and tie a knot in it for a good chew!) or put a pacifier or teething toy in the fridge for a bit before giving it to baby (avoid teething rings that are frozen solid – they will be hard and can hurt baby’s gums).
  • Massage: Wash your hands and rub baby’s gums gently with your fingertip. This can also help you identify where teeth are popping through. Be warned: you might get chomped by some pointy new teeth!
  • Medicine: If these tips don’t help, ask your pediatrician about giving your child acetaminophen. Note: Numbing gels or creams that contain benzocaine are not recommended for infants.

If you have questions about your baby’s teething, or baby still seems miserable after trying these remedies, talk to your pediatrician.

Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital
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Laura Dattner
Laura Dattner, MA
Center for Injury Research and Policy

Laura Dattner is a research writer in the Center for Injury Research and Policy. With both a health communications and public health background, she works to translate pediatric injury research into meaningful, accurate messages which motivate the public to make positive behavior changes.

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