When you have a baby, you do all you can to keep them safe, especially when they sleep. You also want to do what you can to keep them comfortable and this includes treating gas pains, headaches, teething pain and more.
Mothers who strive to keep babies safe and comfortable will have a real dilemma concerning the use of amber anklets. The safety of these teething necklaces has been brought into question since the FDA issued a warning back in 2018 advising against the use of amber anklets and any other type of teething jewelry.
For many parents, this begs the questions, are amber anklets safe? Are they effective? Can babies wear amber anklets to bed?
Read on to find out the answers to these important questions.
In this article
What are Amber Anklets?
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Amber anklets are small teething necklaces made out of natural amber. Amber is a fossilized tree resin that has been used to soothe teething pain since ancient times. Although there is no scientific proof that amber anklets are effective in soothing pain, many parents swear by them.
Amber contains an ingredient called succinic acid which is thought to provide a soothing effect. It is a precursor to aspirin so it makes sense that it would relieve pain. It has been found to reduce hyperthermia (a rise in temperature) in mice.
Babies often experience elevated temperatures when teething so there does seem to be something behind its efficacy. However, the relationship between succinic acid and teething pain relief has never been scientifically proven.
Is Succinic Acid Safe?
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The jury may be out on whether to succinic acid works to soothe teething pain, but we do know that it’s safe. It is a compound that is present in many plants, animals and, microorganisms and it has been deemed safe to be used as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration.
Are Amber Anklets Safe?
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Now we know that succinic acid is safe enough for babies to put in their mouths. But what about amber anklets? Are they safe? Can babies wear amber anklets to bed?
Well even though succinic acid is safe, amber anklets come with their own share of dangers. These are as follows.
Risk of Strangulation
Amber anklets are small and they go around a child’s neck so strangulation is an obvious risk. And, in fact, children have died when sleeping with an amber anklet.
In one tragic incident, a child died of suffocation when wearing his amber anklet during naptime at a daycare center. Another child was injured when her arm got caught through the necklace in a figure eight while napping.
Amber anklets definitely pose the most risk to sleeping children, but many parents forget to take them away from children when putting them down from naps. For this reason, it may be best to forgo the necklaces completely.
Problems with the Breakaway Feature
Many teething necklaces are designed with a breakaway feature to prevent strangulation. However, one Canadian study showed that the breakaway feature did not work when 15 pounds of pressure (the standard amount of pressure used to test children’s jewelry) was applied.
Furthermore, the breakaway feature could cause small beads and other pieces to fall off the necklace. Babies can ingest these pieces and end up choking.
Many necklaces have knots between beads so only one bead will fall off at a time. Babies who swallow only one bead will not be as likely to choke but, does any mother really want her baby to swallow something it shouldn’t be swallowing?
Length is a Factor
Parents who swear by amber anklets should consider buying shorter necklaces to reduce the risk of injury and strangulation.
It’s advisable to buy a well fitting necklace for your baby. Parents should be able to fit two fingers between the necklace and their baby’s neck. Yet, the necklace should not be so long that the baby is able to bring it up into his or her mouth.
A good length for an amber anklet is 12.6 inches or 32 centimeters. At this length, necklaces will not be too short as to cause discomfort, but they also won’t be long enough so that they can get wrapped around a baby’s neck or any other part of their body.
Amber Anklet Substitutes
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While there are things you can do to make your baby’s amber anklet experience safer, many parents will choose not to take the risk and will opt for other pain relief alternatives. Here are some you may want to try:
- Local Analgesics: These can be applied directly to baby’s gums to soothe pain. However, some contain unsafe ingredients. One kind, called benzocaine, has been known to cause methomoglobenemia, a condition where the oxygen in the blood stream becomes dangerously low.
- Pain Killers: There are many children’s painkillers that are available in liquid form. These can be effective in minimizing teething pain. However, it is best to stay away from acetaminophen which can cause liver failure in children. Ibuprofen in safer and therefore, a preferable choice.
- Rubber Teething Rings and Frozen Washcloths: Anything that is baby safe, cold and chewy could do the trick in providing teething pain relief. You can try freezing a washcloth and giving it to your baby to see if it helps soothe their pain. Putting a teething toy in the freezer and then letting your baby teeth on it is another tried and true method.
So, back to the question, can babies wear amber anklets to bed, I think we have our answer…. No absolutely not. In fact, to reduce the risk of them dozing off with an amber anklet in their hands, you might not want to give them to your baby at all.
Although there are things you can do make your baby’s amber anklet teething experience safer, with so many other options available, parents should avoid them completely, no matter how effective they are. Remember, your baby’s teething is just a phase. It’s just not worth the risk.