Amber for teething: a defence
For those of you who don’t know, the girls and I were recently filmed for a Channel 4 programme called Health Freaks as I was talking about using amber beads to ease the pain of teething for my daughters. If you missed it you can watch the episode here: http://healthfreaks.channel4.com/
Since this aired last night my social media feeds have been going crazy with a mix of reactions; mostly positive with own personal experiences of amber working, but a few sceptical, negative and generally ignorant. So I thought I would take to my little corner of the internet here and set some things straight.
Does amber work to ease the pain of teething in babies?
Unfortunately I can’t give a yes/no answer to this question, but I can give you my experience.
L was the most chilled baby in the world, never gave us a sleepless night, literally from the get-go. Then at 6 months she started teething and our chilled world came crashing to the ground, suddenly sleepless nights became standard, and nothing was helping. We were in France and she would be fully dosed up on Doliprane (the Calpol equivalent), Advil (the Nurofen equivalent), Camilia (teething homeopathic medicine), we gave her teething rings to gnaw on, chopped up vegetables kept cold in the fridge, but nothing worked. She was a screaming baby about 20 hours out of 24.
I kept being asked whyI wouldn’t put an amber necklace on her, as if I was some kind of wicked mother, out to torture my baby by depriving her of this pain relief. I kept refusing to get one as I justified to myself that I would rather have a teething baby than a strangled baby. Then one day I was told that the amber necklace doesn’t need to be worn around the neck, it can put on a wrist or an ankle, as long as it is against the skin.
So I got one for L and we put it on her wrist. I was totally sceptical, but I was at my wits’ end and was prepared to try almost anything (within reason!). Hubs didn’t believe it for a second but it wasn’t very expensive and we couldn’t see any danger, so we went for it.
Within a week the screaming baby had been replaced by our chilled out baby again. And no, as someone on Twitter stated, it was not because she had finished teething, she wasn’t even 8 months old when we got the amber necklace for her. She then went on to teeth, getting 2-4 teeth at a time, with no discomfort at all. In fact she got 4 molars at once which we barely noticed. Even Hubs who called it witchcraft and wizardry had to admit something was working.
C started drooling and munching on her fist at around 4 months old, and as I couldn’t handle sleepless nights after having yet another chilled baby (I know how lucky I am!), I put an amber necklace on her at around 5 months old. She now has 8 teeth, and they have all come through with us barely noticing their appearance. C wears her amber necklace under a sock and this summer when it was glorious it was too hot for her to wear socks, so I took them, and the amber necklace off and forgot about it, then a couple of weeks later she was really grizzly, and I couldn’t seem to pull her out of it. I noticed she was displaying quite a few signs of teething so thought I’d put the amber necklace back on and see what happened. A day later the grizzles went and a week later two more teeth popped out.
Interestingly when we were filmed for Health Freaks she was teething, and a couple of days later she got two more teeth, so you can see how she is when she’s in full teething mode!
So whilst this is far from any kind of scientific proof, something about it works for me and numerous friends too. I’d say that about 80% of my friends/acquaintances in France use(d) amber necklaces for teething and found they helped. Up to you to draw your own opinion.
Is it safe?
Now, this is the big question. I can’t guarantee its safety for you, but I can tell you what risk assessment I did before using it:
- I would NEVER use it as a necklace and I don’t condone this. The strangulation risk is too high and babies are more likely to fiddle with it here.
- I put C’s necklace on her ankle (wrapped round twice) and worn under a sock, this way she is not really aware of it and leaves it alone.
- Only get amber necklaces/bracelets/anklets where each bead is knotted on individually. This means that should it break only one bead will come off, so any risk is minimised.
- What happens if a bead comes off? Well, considering the size of the beads I’m not too worried – judging by the contents of C’s nappies she swallows blueberries and sweetcorn that are far larger than the amber beads. I am also a paediatric first aider and C’s primary carer, so I know what to do in a choking situation should the worst happen.
Is the amber itself safe?
This is a tough one. If the amber is rubbing against the skin and sending something into the baby’s skin/blood, how safe is that? My answer is – I don’t know. But equally I don’t know how harmful a lot of the things I give my children are; how harmful is giving them Calpol, Nurofen, vaccinations, certain readymade baby foods? L wore hers for nearly 2 years, she is nearly 7 now and I can’t say I’ve noticed any side effects. Again I decided that the risk was minimal and I was happy to use this on my daughters.
I can’t tell you what to do, and I certainly wouldn’t want to either. But it works for me. I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and I think the risks are worth taking, I can’t (and wouldn’t want to) wrap my kids up in cotton wool.
Over to you now – do your own research, decide what’s best for you and go for it. Your life, your babies, you decide.