My husband and I agree on most aspects of parenting - which is useful, since we’ve got three kids together - but there is one small yet divisive issue upon which we simply cannot agree.
It’s not sleep training, discipline or table manners or indeed any of the typical things that you might expect parents to have differing views on. It’s something so seemingly inconsequential that most people don’t even notice its presence in our lives - and yet my health visitor saw fit to tear me off a strip or two when she recently clapped eye on it.
What am I talking about? The amber teething necklace which my husband bought our baby daughter, of course. You’ve probably seen them on babies you know, and even celeb mums like Gisele Bundchen seem to swear by them.
But it seems I’m not the only one to object to these little strings of amber beads which are purported by some to soothe the symptoms of teething.
I recently stumbled over a thread in the ‘Am I Being Unreaonable’ section of a certain popular parenting forum which shall remain nameless - in which one mum was so sick of the sight of ‘those ridiculous amber teething necklaces’ on babies that she has seemingly decided enough was enough; her wrath was worthy of an entire post on the internet. She wrote:
“No, people, it does not help with teething pain/inflammation/positioning. It's just pieces of amber. You would need to heat it to extract the oil which you can use to make your baby smell like the inside of a potpourri bowl after using as a massage liquid base if you want, but it still won't do jack to give your baby a carefree pearly whites experience. I am getting so tired of everyone buying into this new-age old-age rubbish, and seeing otherwise perfectly reasonable parents stringing up their babies necks in gimmicky stuff.”
The idea behind is that amber releases healing properties, and can thus help to reduce inflammation and discomfort when worn by a teething baby.
I’m not stupid; I get that it’s hardly a robust scientific proposition, and I understand why the sight of anything around a baby’s neck provokes alarm - strangulation and choking hazards aren’t a price worth paying just to making teething a little easier. (That said, the string between each bead on our amber teething necklace is knotted so that if the necklace was to break, the beads can’t come off and go astray, and I remove the necklace when my daughter is asleep.) I understand, too, that anecdotal evidence such as I’m about to share with you means nothing really - it’s certainly not quantifiable proof that amber teething necklaces work.
I can’t tell you if it works. I can simply tell you that when my daughter wears hers she is completed untroubled by any teething symptoms - to the point that she cut her first two teeth together and we barely even noticed until my son spotted two gleaming white dots along her gum-line.
In contrast, on the occasions when I have removed the necklace - usually when I know I’m going to be in the company of people who might disapprove of the whole babies in necklaces thing - there usually follows two frantic days of the whole family trying to work out where I put it so that we can pop it back on the baby and put a stop to the whining / dribbling / screechfest.
Coincidence? Maybe, but such is the difference in my daughter’s demeanour when she’s wearing her amber teething necklace that I’ve stopped bothering to hide it. If that offends you or lands me in hot water with the health visitor, well, that’s a risk I’m prepared to take. As long as I’m confident that the necklace is safe (she’s never out of my sight while wearing it) then I’m going to defer to my husband on this point and admit that there seems to be something in the theory that amber necklaces can help soothing teething pain.
I’m going to turn a blind eye to the people around us whose derision at the sight of an amber teething necklace seems to be based on snobbery more than science. I'm one of *those* parents who swears by homeopathic teething powders too - commonly referred to as baby cocaine by friends who are utterly convinced of the power of those powders to send teething pain packing.
And as one mum in that previously-mentioned forum post pointed out, in our quest to make teething easier for our tots, a teething necklace is surely no more ‘ridiculous’ than Sophie the giraffe which every mother in the country seems to have bought their baby, but which some think resemble an over priced dog toy.
So disapprove if you must and laugh at my naivety in believing that our amber teething necklace works. I can live with that.
Just don’t tell my husband that I think he’s right after all...