If you’ve noticed that your baby or toddler is getting distracted during breastfeeding (or worse, they’re pulling at your hair or twiddling your other nipple), you might want to try a nursing necklace.

Nursing necklaces are a great way to keep your baby focused while nursing. They provide an outlet for your child’s natural need to explore the world through touch, and can help reduce pain and irritation caused by hair pulling, scratching, and twiddling nipples.

When to start using a nursing necklace (or breastfeeding necklace), the benefits of using a nursing necklace, and the best non-toxic nursing necklaces are all discussed in detail below.

What are nursing necklaces and what do they do?

Nursing necklaces are necklaces specifically designed for moms to wear while breastfeeding or cuddling their child. They are made of non-toxic materials such as silicone or wood so that they’re safe for baby to play with or even to chew on.

A nursing necklace is a great way to distract your baby from playing looking around by giving them something to play with with their hands (or even feet).

Baby looking at beads for nursing necklace

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Breastfeeding necklaces provide an outlet for your child’s natural need to explore the world through touch. If you suffer from aversion, nursing necklaces can also help reduce irritation caused by your baby pulling your hair, scratching you, or twiddling your nipples.

RELATED: Nursing aversion (or when breastfeeding isn’t magical)

When do babies start getting distracted during nursing?

When you have a newborn, they are fine to just lay in your arms, cuddle up, and breastfeed. A newborn can only focus their eyes to approximately the distance between your breast and your face, so they aren’t distracted by other things they see around them.

But as your baby gets older, they become more aware of the world around them. Around 4 months, babies start getting distracted during breastfeeding because their desire to look around and explore increases (this is often called the “four month fussies”).

At this point, you’ll notice that your baby starts looking away from you more often while they nurse or even get distracted by other objects in the room (like a toy, a pet, or even something outside the window). If you are in an unfamiliar environment (like a park or someone else’s house), this behavior may be even worse.

Even though your child grows out of the four month fussies after only a few weeks, twiddling can continue to be a problem, even into toddlerhood. That’s why nursing necklaces can be a great tool to help you set gentle limits with your toddler’s nursing habits.

The benefits of using a nursing necklace

A nursing necklace is a great way for your child to focus on something else while breastfeeding. If you notice that your baby is tugging at your hair or scratching at your skin, a nursing necklace might benefit you both.

Plus, a nursing necklace can actually be a cute fashion piece for you too! They come in several styles and colors so you can get one that matches your personality.

The best non-toxic nursing necklaces are made of silicone or natural materials such as wood. These materials won’t cause allergic reactions in baby, nor will they contain chemicals that are bad for your baby. They’re also easy to clean with soap.

Why shouldn’t I use a regular necklace as a nursing necklace?

While you may think any necklace with chunky beads could do as a nursing necklace, this really isn’t the case. Necklaces can contain metals or plastics that are toxic for baby.

Nursing necklaces vs. Teething necklaces

You may have heard of both of these products and wondered what the difference is between the two. While the two terms may be used interchangeably, there is a difference. A nursing necklace refers to a necklace worn by mom for a baby to play with while breastfeeding.

A teething necklace is much smaller and worn by a baby. It is often made of Baltic amber (because of claims that the amber has analgesic properties that reduce teething pain).

Quality teething necklaces are made with as much safety as possible in mind. There’s a knot between each pair of beads so that a break doesn’t cause beads to fly everywhere, and the necklace is just long enough to go around baby’s neck (so it can’t accidentally get wrapped around another object and choke your baby). With that said, the AAP and FDA both discourage the use of teething necklaces, due to risk of strangulation and irritation from succinic acid.

Tips for breastfeeding mothers who want to try a nursing necklace

If you want to use a nursing necklace, here’s what you should keep in mind:

Make sure to choose a necklace designed specifically for nursing babies. A regular beaded necklace just has beads strung one after another, and if your baby pulls too hard and breaks it, there will be beads everywhere. Even worse, if the necklace breaks in baby’s mouth, there’s a choking hazard.

Plus, you want a nursing necklace that’s non-toxic while also soothing for baby’s gums (in case it goes in your little one’s mouth).

You can totally wear your nursing necklace while you’re out and about. For that reason, it might be smart to pick a few different styles so you can mix and match with your outfits.

Finally, don’t wear your nursing necklace to sleep (especially if you co-sleep). When you’re not awake to monitor what’s going on, there’s a strangulation risk for your child.

Is it safe for babies to wear a breastfeeding necklace?

A nursing necklace is much longer than is safe for your baby and can present a strangulation hazard. For this reason, it’s best to just wear a nursing necklace yourself and let your baby play with it while it’s on you (don’t take it off and give it to your baby either).

How to choose the best nursing necklace for your child

Here’s what you want to keep in mind as you pick a teething necklace:

Made of high-quality silicone or other non-toxic material

Non-toxic materials are important for nursing necklaces because they will not cause allergic reactions in baby, nor will they contain chemicals that are bad for your baby. Silicone is the best option for your baby, but there may be some wooden nursing necklaces that work too (if the wood isn’t treated with formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals, and if your baby’s teeth can’t chew through it).

Bisphenol, vinyl, and phthalate free

BPA, BPS, PVC, and phthalates are all toxic endocrine disruptors that can cause long-term damage to your baby’s health. To reduce your baby’s exposure to these chemicals, be sure you opt for a nursing necklace without any of them.

(Note: If you or your baby is allergic to latex, you’ll want to make sure to avoid it as well.)

Comfortable for baby’s mouth

While the primary purpose of a nursing necklace is for little fingers (and toes) to play with during breastfeeding sessions, they may help with teething too. That’s why it’s important to think about how they feel on baby’s gums.

If a necklace’s beads are not flexible or bendy enough, it can hurt if baby bites down on it. At the same time, they need to be tough enough to stand up to chewing.

And remember, no matter what kind of necklace you get, the beads should be large enough to prevent choking (which means they should be big than 1/2″).

Stylish

Nursing necklaces look great on and can be a trendy accessory for moms. If you find the right one, you may continue to wear it well after baby is done nursing.

Best nontoxic teething necklaces

Goobie Baby Audrey Silicone Teething Necklace

Goobie Baby breastfeeding necklace made of silicone beads made to look like a strand of pearls

This pretty necklace may just look like a strand of beads, but it’s actually made of food-grade silicone. The Goobie Baby necklace comes in several colors to match any of your outfits.

This necklace is BPA, phthalate, lead, and latex free. Plus, you can even wash it in the dishwasher.

Bebe by Me Cosmopolitan All-in one teething/nursing necklace

BeBe by Me nursing necklace with chunky teal beads

First of all, can I just say how cute this Bebe by Me necklace is? It’s got chunky, food-grade silicone beads in teal, white, and cool grey and will set off so many outfits.

But the real genius of the Bebe necklace is that each bead color is a different hardness. There’s a harder bead, a soft bead, and a “cushy” bead so your baby can feel different textures.

Lofca Teething necklace

Lofca single-stranded nursing necklace with silicone beads

If you want a nursing necklace that goes with a slightly dressier outfit (because hey, sometimes babies go out too), the Lofca necklace could be for you. I love the marbled grey and white central beads that are set off by black and grey beads to the side.

Again, this necklace is made of food-grade silicone, so it’s safe for baby. Plus, you can even put it in the freezer for a bit before wearing it so you can soothe your baby’s gums.

Lofca two-strand teething necklace

two-stranded teething necklace with large baby blue and small pale pink silicone beads

Lofca also has a two-stranded version of their teething necklaces. Each strand has a different color of beads.

Just like the single-strand necklace, this one free of BPA, phthalates, latex, lead, and cadmium. It also comes in multiple colors so you can pick what matches your style best.

ReignDrop teething necklace

Little boy breastfeeding while holding mother's ReignDrop teething necklace in his fist

If you like a chunky multi-color necklace, the ReignDrop might be for you. It comes in several different colors and has a cute hand-painted look to it.

Like the other necklaces listed here, this necklace is made from 100% food-grade silicone and is free of BPA, PVC, lead, phthalates, cadmium, and latex. It comes with a safety breakaway clasp that will easily detach if your baby pulls at it too hard.

V-TOP nursing necklace

V-TOP nursing necklace with colorful chunky beads for mom to wear

If you’re looking for a more colorful option to entrance your baby, the V-TOP might be for you. The different sizes and shapes of beads will feel interesting for little fingers.

Made of 100% food-grade silicone, this necklace is also free of BPA PVC PVC, lead, cadmium phthalates.

V-TOP’s material has the added bonus of antimicrobial properties to reduce odors and bacteria growth. And like many of the other nursing necklaces listed here, you can either wash it off with warm soap and water, or you can pop in in the top rack of your dishwasher.

Sensory Chew Necklace

3 non-toxic silicone teething necklaces in pink and purple

The Sensory Chew necklace is another nursing necklace made with food-grade silicone. It’s free of BPA, PVC, lead, and phthalates. While it’s originally designed for kids with autism or other neurodevelopmental differences that lead to oral fixation, it works great as a nursing necklace too.

This necklace comes in a set of 3 (so you can keep them in a few different places around the house). Instead of several small beads, it’s made with one large bead in an attractive swirl pattern. Its bumps and grooves are perfect for tiny fingers and mouths.

Shark tooth teething necklace

3 silicone shark tooth necklaces for teething babies in blue, white, and black

And for something different, you can try this shark tooth teething necklace. And yeah, your partner may not breastfeed, but he or she might appreciate this option.

This chunky, non-toxic silicone bead is larger than many of the others, so it gives your baby something different to feel.

Conclusions on using a nursing necklace

If your baby likes to twiddle or pull your hair, a nursing necklace may be exactly what you need to calm that habit. Plus, these non-toxic necklaces are great for teething and gentle sensory stimulation.

Hopefully, you’ve found a nursing necklace here that fits your style and your baby’s needs perfectly. Make sure you leave any questions in the comments!

A nursing necklace can help with distracted babies during breastfeeding.