Rachel Zoe with son Skyler, who is wearing an amber teething necklace.

Rachel Zoe with son Skyler, who is wearing an amber teething necklace.

Experts are alarmed at the use of teething necklaces made of Baltic amber beads, saying they present a choking hazard for babies. The resin necklaces have boomed in popularity in recent years, with the hip and ‘natural’ baby product worn by the offspring of celebrities such as model Miranda Kerr and stylist Rachel Zoe.

Manufacturers of the necklaces claim that they work by releasing ‘therapeutic oils’ (succinic acid) into the baby’s skin, which is said to help reduce inflammation and drooling. But sceptics say that it is impossible for a baby’s body heat to generate the warmth needed to release the acid from the amber resin, or that the dose of the succinic acid would be enough to have a therapeutic effect.

Teething won't kill a baby but choking on an amber teething necklace could. Why would you risk it? 

The necklaces, available from chemists, small retailers and online, are worn by babies as young as six weeks old.

Soothe sore gums with Sophie the giraffe, who is made from 100 per cent natural rubbers and food paint, making her perfectly chewable ($34) Click for more photos

Teething products for little mouths

Soothe sore gums with Sophie the giraffe, who is made from 100 per cent natural rubbers and food paint, making her perfectly chewable ($34)

  • Soothe sore gums with Sophie the giraffe, who is made from 100 per cent natural rubbers and food paint, making her perfectly chewable ($34)
  • The Razz-berry Silicone Teether is BPA free, non-toxic and 100 per cent medical grade silicone. The bumpy texture soothes your baby’s gums and can be frozen for extra comfort ($8)
  • Just fill the Nuby Nibbler's mesh bag with frozen fruit and ice for a soothing nibble for your child ($7.95)
  • The Brush-Baby Chewable Toothbrush and Teether cleans teeth while also massaging sore gums ($4.20)
  • The chewable wonder toy that has everything, Lamaze's Freddie the Firefly even inlcudes a teether to munch on ($14.99)
  • The Little Alouette Harry the Hipp teether is baby- and planet-friendly ($24.95)
  • Weleda's Baby Teething Powder is all natural, containing chamomilla root and conchae to help soothe irritation and lessen the pain associated with teething ($13.90)
  • The Dream Baby Fruit Soother is filled with water for freezing to cool and relieve sore gums ($4.95)
  • The Cherry Nature Rattle doubles as a rattle and a teether. Made from cherry tree wood and finished with beeswax, this is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic teethers ($22)
  • For a brightly coloured teether, offer your child the Bright Starts Chill + Teethe Teethers ($12)
  • The Avent Front Teether Animal has been designed to perfectly fit your baby's hands and mouth, in order to help with the pressures of growing teeth ($8.95)
  • Amber teething necklaces are popular with many parents, including stylist Rachel Zoe and her son Skyler, shown here, but CHOICE and other expert panels recommend against their use. Read <a href="http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/baby/baby-health/amber-teething-necklaces-a-choking-hazard-warn-authorities-20120927-26n7l.html" target="_blank">our article on the necklaces</a> to learn more.

General practitioner and lecturer Dr James Best this week told the CHOICE Baby and Kids forum that the efficacy of the necklaces is "biologically implausible", while fellow panellist Dr Joanna McMillan added that they are a choking hazard.

Last year, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, David Bradbury, issued a warning notice to the public in relation to amber jewellery for babies.

The warning notice was issued after ACCC testing of several of these products indicated they could break into small parts and present a choking hazard to children under three years of age.

Fan of natural remedies... Miranda Kerr and son Flynn.

Fan of natural remedies... Miranda Kerr and son Flynn.

Investigative journalist Kate Browne at CHOICE backs up the warning.

“From the experts we have spoken to, and the research we have seen, there is no proof of efficacy when it comes to amber teething necklaces,” she said. "But what we do know for sure is that they are a potential choking hazard. Teething won't kill a baby but choking on an amber teething necklace could. Why would you risk it when there are so many safer and more effective options for your child?"

The Australian Consumer Commission has given safety guidelines to parents currently using the necklaces. Consumers using this product are advised to:

always supervise the infant when wearing the necklace or bracelet
remove the necklace or bracelet when the infant is unattended, even if it is only for a short period of time
remove the necklace or bracelet while the infant sleeps at day or night
not allow the infant to mouth or chew the necklace or bracelet
consider using alternate forms of pain relief
seek medical advice if you have concerns about your child’s health and wellbeing.

See our gallery of alternative teething products.