It’s a customary sight in Asian culture— a proud grandparent buys a gold chain, anklet or bracelet for the newborn arrival, but is it really safe for your baby to be wearing jewelry? We look at the cultural meaning of baby jewelry, the possible risks and precautions you can take.
Cultural meaning of baby jewelry
Giving a baby a piece of jewelry to wear has been a long established tradition in Asian culture over hundreds, if not thousands of years. Not only is it seen as a way to welcome the baby into the family, it’s also an expression of love and protection from the elders.
There are various purposes why parents have their babies wear jewelry, and the most common include the following:
- Gold jewelry as a baby gift and form of savings. Usually these would be necklaces, bracelets or anklets.
- Amulets for protection from evil or illness. These can look like simple red threads or include jade pendants or other types of charms.
- Teething jewelry. Amber and jade pendants are not only a pretty form of decoration, they are apparently good for teething too.
Is baby jewelry safe?
Ideally, wearing any form of jewelry comes with some risks to the baby, depending on the jewelry. The main risks involved has to do with choking, and this is highest when it involves baby necklaces and chains. It is best not to let babies wear any kind of necklaces around the neck until they are much older.
Bracelets and anklets are generally much safer, but remember that these are never far away from your baby’s mouth. Also note that these items of jewelry can break or get caught on furniture, even if they are made of metal. Any charms or pieces on it pose a choking risk.
Another thing to note is that your baby has sensitive skin. Jewelry made with alloys or base metal can cause skin allergies. For the same reasons, you should avoid synthetic fibres and plastics.
Precautions to take with baby jewelry
Baby jewelry can be fun if you take the right precautions. For bracelets and anklets, you should ensure that they fit securely without being too loose or tight. Pay attention to the material that they are made of. Avoid silver, or any alloys with base metals. Yellow gold is usually fine but white gold may contain nickel which may trigger an allergy.
Keep jewelry simple and free of beads or charms, basically, anything you don’t want your baby accidentally eating and choking on. Remember that even a baby anklet is well within chewing reach for a flexible baby.
What if your parents or in-laws generously gift your baby with a solid gold chain? It would be rude if they didn’t see your baby wearing it. You could simply put it on your baby only on occasion when you can keep an eye on it. Just make sure that you take it off when you get home.
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