May 11, 2013

There are those who swear by necklaces made from Baltic amber beads as a natural way to alleviate the pain and discomfort of teething in their children. But science doesn’t back up any of the claims of the amber teething necklaces’ manufactures, sellers, or users.

While some may see this as a matter of personal opinion, there are real dangers to using amber teething necklaces and I do not recommend them.

Do the necklaces really work?

The makers and sellers of the necklaces claim the amber beads, which have been used for centuries to relieve pain and inflammation, work by releasing the therapeutic succinic acid when warmed by body heat. This claim has never been substantiated by a medical or natural therapies board. There are no academic or peer reviewed papers that provide evidence of such claims and amber is not included on Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods; a register which comprehensively covers almost 70,000 natural therapies approved for sale in Australia.

In fact, biologically, it would impossible for a baby’s body heat to realise the succinic acid from the amber resin, and even if it were the dose would not be enough to have a therapeutic effect.

Despite the lack of real evidence the amber beads have any effect on the body whatsoever, anecdotally, many families report seeing an improvement in the symptoms of teething when using the necklaces.

Why do so many people use them?

Teething, itself, is sometimes considered to be an ailment that doesn’t exist in the way it is perceived by most parents. As we can’t ask babies what they are feeling we rely on our observations of changes in our baby’s behaviour and attitude. I believe the amber necklaces serve as a placebo for the parents. While teething can cause discomfort it is often blamed for a variety of baby behaviours and symptoms that are probably unrelated. A baby who is grumpy, drooly, lacking appetite, sleeping poorly, becoming clingy, mouthing toys, grinding teeth, etc is said to be teething when they may be displaying perfectly ordinary baby behaviour.

Once the amber necklace is being used by a suggestive parent who expects or hopes it will alter their baby’s behaviour and experience, the placebo effect begins to work. Once you are no longer expecting to see teething pain you no longer unconsciously ascribe it to everyday behaviours.

So, why shouldn’t I use the necklaces?

If the efficacy of the amber was the only consideration of the amber necklace, then it would be no harm for the placebo effect to continue to do its job. After all, there is much to say for placebos generating some real cures – the mind can be a surprisingly powerful aid to good health.

But the amber beads on the teething necklaces pose a real choking danger, as well as a risk of strangulation. The amber is soft enough to break under pressure and can too easily be dislodged from the necklace and swallowed. Babies who wear the necklace when lying or rolling, both awake and when sleeping, can strangle themselves.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury has issued a warning notice to the public in relation to amber teething necklaces. The recommendations are that the necklaces ideally not be used at all. But if you do use them, it’s crucial:

  • That you use the necklace only when you are watching your baby
  • That you never allow them to put it in their mouths
  • And that you never let them sleep or lay down with it on

Given that there’s no evidence amber teething necklaces work, and that they pose a possible danger to your child, my recommendation is to consider using other tested, approved, and safer methods of teething relief instead.

Brigid is a career nanny with over 15 years experience working with children and babies. She is dedicated to the care of infants and the very young, and the support and guidance of their parents and families. After having been integral in the care and raising of hundreds of children she has seen plenty, learnt a lot, and shares as much as she can.


  • I have seen them, not sure if they work, they weren’t around when mine were teething. I didn’t have too many teething issues either so I probably wouldn’t have bothered with one

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  • I have one that goes on my son’s ankle, underneath his sock. No harm in trying a natural method, as long as bub is safe.

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  • I know alot of friends who have these amber necklaces, and they say it works.

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  • They look nice but there’s a reason some toys/baby aids/mobiles etc are removed from the market…. it’s because of possible choking if bits become dislodged…. same should go for the necklaces. I think I’d worry far too much to use them.

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  • I never had any need for them, they always looked a bit dangerous anyway

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  • a very good article.well written and does make a lot of sense!

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  • My nephew used these beards on his little one, and I actually commented to my daughter about my fear of choking or strangulation with these beads. Never had this type of thing when my children were young and it just shows that sometimes us oldies have a good sense of danger.

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  • i tried one on my daughter, i put it on and then found myself sitting there watching her every move as i didnt trust it, sure enough after about 10 minutes of her wriggling around, it snapped in half. Knew i didnt trust them for a reason! too risky.

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  • i was wondering a few questions that are answered in this article. thanks

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  • Personally I don’t like them on kids – it’s like babies with their ears pierced, they just don’t look right, you wouldn’t see them on my child. But each to their own, if you think they work and aren’t concerned by the potential choking hazard then by all means use them.

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  • If if I believed, I’d be very weary as a choking hazard.

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  • I didn’t bother with either of mine. Last baby, and all we have now to go are the 2 year old molars. On the home straight! lol

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  • We had no success with these at all.

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  • what a great tool, I think I will give them a go

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  • Even if these dont work they are soooo cute! My son has had his for 3 years now and loves wearing it.


    • For some it works others not so much, agreed though they do look super cute.

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