I have wanted to write this post for a long time. I get asked often about Jack’s Baltic amber teething necklace. He was worn one pretty much continuously since 6-months-old. It’s cute little hippy-looking little piece of jewelry. Nothing fancy really. But it supposedly holds great healing powers.
In addition to babywearing, rocks are my other passion in life. Gems, minerals, stones, boulders, formations—whatever you call them. They fascinate me! It’s literally the creation and destruction of the Earth, what’s not to love? I even got second degree in geology after I already graduated from college because I love rocks so much.
So, when I first heard about amber teething necklaces, I was intrigued. A rock that magically alleviates pain? Sounds like some snake oil. I believe in quite a bit of naturopathic methods as long as they backed up by some quality evidence. Here is a nice site the sums up how Baltic Amber works. In a nut shell, put the necklace on under clothes, it will heat up with body temperature then release succinic acid, your body absorbs it and relieves the pain.
I need to be honest here. THIS IS THE CRAZIEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD! Succinic acid does not secrete out of Amber at body temperature. Rocks don’t release elements or compounds unless it is heated, under pressure, or dissolved in solution. In this case, the claimed mechanism is heat so I will focus on that. Every rock has a melting point, when it goes from solid to liquid. During the process, components of the rock break free.
Amber’s melting point is 570 degrees F and succinic acid’s is 363 degrees F. So even when amber starts to melt, succinic acid probably isn’t even the first component to come out. And, if human external body temperature is about 93.2 degrees F, that means it’s over 250 degrees short of melting against your skin.
So for this reason, I call snake oil. There is no way Baltic Amber teething necklaces work the way they claim. It just not possible, that’s not how rocks work at all. All that being said, I totally believe in them. However they work, they totally work. Jack is my proof.
Jack is the slowest teether ever. He started around 4-months-old, but didn’t actually cut a tooth until he was about 8-months-old. He’s 2 and half-years-old now, and still waiting on 3 molars! And teething makes him very grumpy.
Constantly wanting to comfort nurse and chew on my hand. And the minute I would take my breast or hand away, he would be furious. I tried many other teething remedies like numbing gel, clove oil, frozen teething toys, cold wash cloth,. etc. I tried to avoid pain medicine unless baby has a fever—but I would give it to him almost every day to keep him happy.
I can’t remember where I heard about Baltic Amber Teething Necklaces, but it was when he was around 6-months-old. I ran to my local baby boutique and bought one. I put it on outside the store and took Jack out to lunch nearby. He sat happily in the high chair and ate his lunch. I stared at him the whole time, waiting for him to scream to nurse. But he stayed happy. He napped happily when we got home. Even my husband asked why he was so happy at dinner that night. However, the necklace wasn’t totally magic. When the tooth actually cut through, he was grumpy again that day and needed pain medicine.
I know it could be coincidence. But when the second and third tooth cut at the same time, he was not wearing the necklace and it was horrible. I had taken it off when he went swimming and forgot to put it back on. That week he was a monster even with pain medicine.
I could not figure out why and was going crazy with his behavior. Then one day Michael asked where his necklace was and I realized it was still in the swim bag. I put it on him and a little while later he was calm again. This pattern continued any time I forgot to put the necklace back on him. Monster without it and calm again with it.
The greatest test of the necklace was when we moved to Oregon. Jack took his necklace off on the road trip to play with it and it got lost in the car. For two weeks, he was teething mess with 4 teeth cutting. Drooling, sucking anything he could get in his mouth, comfort nursing constantly, and just general grumpiness.
Then my friend FrogMama send Jack one and became my life saver! He went back to his happy self in no time. The necklace pretty much stayed on him constantly for the next year and I think it helped a lot. I didn’t even realize he was cutting his canines until one day I heard a pop sound and he started crying.
So how do they work? I have no idea. I’ve heard two theories that seem more reasonable to me. One is acupressure. That the necklace is sitting on pressure point on the neck that goes to the jaw and teeth. However, I argue that necklaces move around (especially with a crazy toddler), so I am not sure how accurate this theory could be. The second is a subject I’ve never looked into before (please tell me if you know more), intentions.
A mom I chatted with at an indoor play place has an interesting theory: Intention. She was studying Eastern Medicine and explained the concept. The idea that you are placing your love and good intentions creates a placebo effect, relieving the pain. This could explain why the necklaces have no perceived effect on some. If you don’t think they will work, then of course they wont. I have no idea if that’s the case, but’s it makes more sense to me than acid magically comes out when ever so slightly warmed.
Like I said, however they work, they work. If you have any more evidence or suggestions on how they work, please comment below!