If you’ve been around any children under the age of three recently, you’ve probably noticed them sporting some pretty funky looking accessories. No, this isn’t the latest fashionista trend, it’s most likely an amber teething necklace and we’re here to tell you what you need to know about them.
What are amber teething necklaces?
Amber teething necklaces are a necklace, or sometimes an anklet or bracelet, made out of amber beads. Amber is often marketed as a gemstone, but it is in fact a form of fossilised tree resin. When the bark of an amber tree is damaged, sap leeches out. Over time, and we mean a LOT of time, this resin undergoes chemical changes and achieves what’s known scientifically as a stable state. It has literally become a fossil. Most of the amber being sold today is estimated to be around forty to sixty million years old and generally comes from the Baltic region of Eastern Europe.
The amber collected comes in varying shapes and sizes and can be utilised as either a raw or polished product. This is just a fancy way of saying it’s either matte and natural in appearance, or smooth and shiny. Amber stones can then be strung together into a piece of jewellery and worn by infants and toddlers.
What are they for?
Amber is believed to assist with the pain of teething and other ailments. The theory behind this is that amber contains a chemical called succinic acid. This is a naturally occurring substance that is believed to have been used traditionally over the centuries as a natural antibiotic and general remedy for a range of conditions.
Many people believe that wearing amber teething jewellery will allow the succinic acid from the amber to be released into the bloodstream through the skin. This will then in turn provide relief from any discomfort, tenderness and pain caused by teething.
For those who follow the healing properties of gemstones, amber is also understood to be effective in balancing emotions and eliminating fears – energy I’m sure any parent of a toddler would be very keen to harness!
Do amber teething necklaces work?
Well, maybe. It depends on who you ask.
In terms of medical advice, the evidence suggests otherwise. Whilst succinic acid has some healing properties, whether or not it’s able to be released from a strand of amber beads is very much up for debate. To release the acid from the amber, you would have to heat it up to a temperature of around two hundred degrees Celsius.
Doctors also argue that if the succinic acid was extracted from the necklace, there’s no evidence to suggest it can be absorbed by the skin. Finally, they’re not sure succinic acid, even acts as an analgesic. Unfortunately, the science just doesn’t seem to back the claims at this stage.
In saying that however, many people throughout the centuries have absolutely sworn by the healing influence of all kinds of crystals and stones. No doubt you yourself have encountered many parents who swear by them. There probably isn’t a scientific explanation for a lot of this either but, if you feel it has worked for you, then perhaps we just don’t have a way to quantify this kind of treatment yet. There is a lot we don’t understand about the world!
Are amber teething necklaces safe?
This is probably the biggest concern with amber necklaces, and the short answer is, no.
Red Nose Australia explains that babies and small children really should never have anything around their necks. They could catch on play equipment, furniture, or even a curious sibling’s hand.
Plus, even though reputable products have knots tied between each bead, there is still a risk that the cord could break and a child could inhale or consume a piece of amber. Infants are incredibly susceptible to choking and strangulation. Even if worn around the wrist or ankle, there is definitely a degree of risk involved with these products.
So should I buy one or not?
As with most things to do with your little one, the choice is really up to you as a parent.
If you want to try an amber necklace for teething, supervise your baby at all times and never allow your child to sleep while wearing one. Try not to let your baby chew on the necklace, as this may damage or weaken the cord that secures the beads. And of course, follow any manufacturer guidelines and check the jewellery regularly for flaws or damage.
There are a lot of other different options out there to help you and your baby deal with the pain of teething. Keep yourself informed, if you’re concerned check with your medical practitioner, and make the right decision for your family.
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