If you’ve ever done a deep dive into the world of teethers while shopping for a natural alternative; chances are you’d have come across options like Wood, Rubber… or even Amber.
Amber teething necklaces and bracelets have gained significant popularity in recent years as a natural remedy for teething discomfort. A cursory Google Search will show you plenty of mamas who swear by their Amber teething necklaces and bracelets, and their effectiveness in resolving their child’s teething woes – but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there is no scientific research or evidence supporting its effectiveness as a real teething relief.
Like all trending discoveries, this particular hot button issue is received with a mix of enthusiasm and skepticism – which is why today, we are joining this deep dive with you and shedding the light on Amber – good, bad, and everything in between.
WHAT IS AMBER
Simply put – Amber is a gemstone.
However, unlike most other gemstones that are mineral-based (i.e. formed from many smaller crystals which have to be polished and formed into a solid stone); Amber has a rare biologically occurring composition – created when pine tree resin hardens, which means it is ‘made by nature’, so to speak.
For this reason, Amber is usually considered an organic gemstone, instead of a common mineral gemstone.
THE DEAL WITH AMBER & TEETHING
The belief that Amber can relieve teething pain is largely based on the fact that Baltic Amber contains Succinic Acid, which is a natural anti-inflammatory substance.
In theory, when Baby’s skin come into contact with Amber, their body heat* triggers the release of a minute amount of oil from the stone that contains succinic acid, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. This natural oil is said to have an analgesic effect on swollen, sore gums.
Some amber teether makers also claim that this natural healing stone can stimulate the thyroid gland and, consequently, control drool and improve the immune system’s ability to reduce inflammation in the ears, throat, stomach and respiratory system. And while many mommies have attested to this fact, there has been no scientific evidence or research to back up these occurrences.
* Scientists have countered that, from a chemical point of view, a person’s skin would have to be at deadly temperatures (approximating 204°C and more!) before any healing organics can be released from the amber stone – and even then, it would be too minute to make a difference.
AMBER: SAFETY CONCERNS & OUR PERSONAL TAKE
It is crucial to address that to date, the main contention with Amber Teething Necklaces does not lie with the Amber stone per se – but the fact that in its teething form, they are typically only available as necklaces or bracelets, which are often made way too long and cannot possibly be certified safe for use by babies or even younger toddlers. In 2018, an 18-month-old was even tragically strangled to death in his sleep, by an amber teething necklace that was draped around his neck.
Whether or not the healing properties of the Amber stone is real, it is regardless a beautiful natural material that is tactile and soothing to Baby’s touch; and is also completely safe for babies to mouth on. In that vein, it is a perfectly acceptable material to be used in constructing teethers.
The more critical aspect that we should be paying attention to, is how these teethers are made. Is this teething necklace from a reputed brand that specialises in Baby products? Are they known for their commitment to Child Safety? Do they pass stringent toy safety test standards? (Cord lengths for EN71-tested toys cannot be more than 22cm long.) Is it made specifically with Baby in mind… or is it a side line from a brand with no real track record or expertise in Baby toys?
For toys that your Baby will mouth on or be left unsupervised with, you’d ultimately still want to stick only with brands you can trust and have been tested time and again. Ensure that only premier quality materials are used (e.g. Solid Wood, 100% Natural Rubber, Baltic Amber, Azo-free Fabric); and if they are made of smaller components, that they are well constructed and can hold up excellently to Baby’s pulling, grasping, stretching and mouthing tendencies.