Amber Teething Necklaces
Keeping Children Safe in the Early Years
Do you have babies or children in your care who wear amber teething necklaces? Recent information from The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) raises concerns about these necklaces. The article states:
‘Concerns have been raised about amber teething necklaces representing a choking hazard. The main concern relates to the beads and clasps which can become detached. There are also inherent strangulation hazards associated with having any type of cord placed around a child's, and especially a baby's, neck. RoSPA does not advocate any cord being placed around any baby's neck at any time. Our ongoing research into the risks posed by blind cords highlights just how quickly and easily young children can be accidentally strangled or hanged’.
The EYFS places a duty on childcare providers to keep children safe from harm and promote their welfare. Early years providers should carry out a robust risk assessment if parents want a baby or child to wear an amber teething necklace while in the provision. Ofsted expect providers to take a common sense and proportionate approach to risk.
Group providers (with more than 5 staff members) should have written risk assessments; childminder risk assessments do not necessarily need to be in writing but the EYFS states, ‘Providers must determine where it is helpful to make some written risk assessments in relation to specific issues, to inform staff practice, and to demonstrate how they are managing risks if asked by parents and/or carers or inspectors.’ (EYFS requirement 3.64).
Risk assessment considerations relating to babies or children wearing amber teething necklaces might include:
• Are parents aware of the risk to their baby / child from strangulation or choking?
• Do you check the necklace on arrival and regularly through the day to ensure there are no loose parts?
• Can you monitor the baby / child at all times when awake?
• If the baby / child wears the necklace while asleep do you have a visual monitor which you can watch at all times?
• Are the beads tied individually so it the necklace snaps only one bead is lost? According to research the necklaces are designed to break easily to reduce the risk of strangulation but consideration must be given to whether this increases the risk of choking.
• Do you have toddlers or other children in your care who might pull the necklace – will this increase the risk of the necklace snapping and a child choking?
Early years providers must comply with the EYFS requirement to request input from parents in different aspects of provision and to share information with parents. To comply, providers might, for example:
• Ask parents to contribute to the risk assessment
• Provide parents with alternative ideas for helping their child with teething
• Send (email or print) the above RoSPA link to parents to help them make an informed decision about the safety of using amber teething necklaces at home.
Risk assessment, written or otherwise, does not in itself keep children safe. Sensible risk management cannot remove all risks – for example, you might reduce the risk of choking or strangulation by asking parents not to send their child to the provision wearing an amber bead necklace but a child might choke when eating or be strangled by a skipping rope in the garden. However, risk assessment is designed to reduce hazards to a manageable level. Therefore, after completing the risk assessment and sharing it with parents, it is important that providers use it as a tool to enable children’s safety.
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