Teething jewelry, such as teething necklaces, bracelets and beads, have become a popular method to help ease teething pain and provide sensory stimulation for children with special needs, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or autism. However, parents and caregivers should be cautious about using teething jewelry, as these products pose serious safety risks to children.
In December 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning after receiving reports of death and serious injuries to infants and children using these products. The FDA states, “One report involved a 7-month old child who choked on a bead from a wooden teething bracelet while under parental supervision and was taken to the hospital, and another involved an 18-month old child who was strangled to death by his amber teething necklace during a nap.” According to the FDA, teething jewelry should not be used to ease teething pain in children or to provide sensory stimulation to children with special needs. The FDA warns parents and caregivers that the use of teething necklaces, beads, and other jewelry puts children at risk for serious injury and death, including choking, strangulation, injury to the mouth or gums and infection.
Choking can occur if a bead breaks off of the teething jewelry and gets stuck in the child’s throat or airway. Strangulation can happen if a necklace is wrapped too tightly around the neck or if a necklace gets caught on an object, such as a child’s crib. Children are at risk for injury or infection if they bite a bead and break a tooth, or if a bead gets lodged into the child’s gum. In addition, teething necklaces and beads that are made of amber release a substance that is absorbed into the child’s skin and into the bloodstream in unknown quantities. There is currently no scientific evidence of the safety and effectiveness of the amber teething jewelry, so the FDA recommends that parents and caregivers do not use these types of products.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend infants wear any type of jewelry, including teething necklaces, bracelets and beads. Parents and caregivers should consider safer, alternative ways to relieve your child’s teething pain, including the following:
- Plastic and rubber chew toys that are specifically made for teething children, such as a rubber teething ring, can help relieve aching gums. Avoid using teething rings that are frozen solid as these can be too hard for your child’s gums.
- Dampen a washcloth, then twist it and freeze it. The cold washcloth can help numb and soothe aching and inflamed gums. You can tie a knot in the washcloth as well for better gnawing.
- Gently massage or rub your child’s gums with your clean finger or knuckle to help relieve the pain.
- Talk to your child’s pediatrician about medicine you can give to your child if nothing else seems to help relieve the pain. The AAP recommends to avoid numbing gels or creams, as these contain chemicals that can be harmful or deadly to infants.
If parents or caregivers choose to use teething necklaces, bracelets and beads, please remember the following:
- Always supervise your child while they are wearing the teething jewelry
- Remove the teething jewelry when your child is unattended, even for a short period of time
- Remove the teething jewelry when your child is sleeping
- Have your child wear the teething jewelry around their wrist or ankle, instead of around their neck
Talk to your child’s pediatrician about any questions or concerns you may have regarding your child’s health.