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Amber teething necklaces pose choking hazard

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Although amber teething beads are supposed to break apart, they are not worth the risk.

By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
kidsdr.com

What is the deal with these amber teething beads? Suddenly so many of “my” babies are wearing these little necklaces, which are “supposed” to help with teething. I worry they are a choking hazard, and I have no clue why they would help a baby get their teeth.

I have previously written about teething and the many thoughts and/or “myths” surrounding babies and tooth eruption. A baby typically gets the first tooth around 6 months of age, and they are usually one of the lower two central incisors. However, some babies will get teeth a bit earlier and some babies will not get a tooth until 15 to 18 months of age. The latest age that I have seen for a first tooth to come in was 22 months, and yes that child is totally normal.

Although amber teething beads are supposed to break apart, they are not worth the risk.

Although amber teething beads are supposed to break apart, they are not worth the risk.

Teething gets a bad rap for causing any fussiness in an infant once the baby reaches 4 months of age. Whether the baby is fussy day or night, it is often attributed to teeth (prior to this age it is “gas”). But while many babies are drooling, putting their hands in their mouth and chewing on toys, it is probably actually due to development of hand to mouth coordination rather than tooth eruption. A baby becomes really fixated orally around this age … and this stage lasts until they are about 24 months. You will see, everything goes straight to their mouth!

I am sure I remember my first child’s “teething,” but I am also sure I could not begin to tell you when the third son got his first tooth. My middle son was the “crankiest baby/toddler” on the planet (he is a gem now), and he did not get a tooth until he was about 15 months old, and promptly knocked out his upper middle tooth when he was around 2 years old!

Back to the amber beads: I think they are a bit like essential oils … not sure what they really do. I also worry that a baby might get tangles up in the necklace and get asphyxiated … even though they are supposed to break apart. I would NOT take the risk.

Lastly, you don’t see 5- and 6-year-old children wearing amber beads; they lose their teeth and get their first permanent teeth. You also don’t hear a parent make excuses for a cranky/tired elementary school aged child: “She is just behaving like this because she is teething.” Sounds a bit crazy, right?

We parents like to have reasons for everything. I don’t care if you blame teeth for making a baby fussy. I am just not sure there really is a correlation; certainly not month after month as a child gets 20 teeth in the first two to three years of life.


(Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award-winning pediatrician, medical editor and media host. “The Kid’s Doctor” TV feature can be seen on more than 90 stations across the U.S. Submit questions at http://www.kidsdr.com. The Kid’s Doctor e-book, “Tattoos to Texting: Parenting Today’s Teen,” is now available from Amazon and other e-book vendors.)

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