Nursing necklaces are simply a necklace or piece of jewelry made for moms who happen to have small children.
At around the age of 3 or 4 months, babies start to notice their surroundings more, and they often like to pinch, scratch, poke, and yank on hair while breastfeeding or bottle feeding. When babies reach this age, many moms also find their favorite jewelry gets yanked and broken, and all the beads go clattering to the floor.
Nursing necklaces are simply a piece of mom's jewelry which also happens to be made strong enough to be tugged and yanked. They also provide something fun and pretty for a child to grab without hurting you.
Please note: As of February 2009, Laughing Starfish no longer sells nursing necklaces.
What happened to the nursing necklaces on your website?:
I now sell FiddleStone Loops.
Last year, in response to a bunch of recalls by large companies who manufacture mass-produced goods in China, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) put together a new federal law which will go into effect Feb. 10, 2009. It will put many new restrictions on products and goods made "for children under the age of 12." Among the new regulations is a requirement that each unique design of any product needs to be sent to an external lab (one of a short list of about 15) for official lead testing certification.
The problem with this law is that the testing would require me to send each of my designs in for testing to the tune of about 3500-4000 dollars. When you make just a few--or as the case is with my work, mostly one-of-a-kind pieces-- it's just not financially possible. Besides, the lead testing process usually destroys the product "unit," so testing is not even physically possible with those unique pieces.
Additionally, I sometimes use non-unique pieces--a purchase of enough artisan beads and gemstones to complete a design but still in very limited quantities.
If you're interested in reading more about this new law, there's a well written piece that echoes many of my thoughts on the matter here.
But, the nursing necklaces are for adults right? Well, yes - and a large portion of my customers don't buy them with nursing in mind... but to be clear, I am taking out all the references to children because having spent several months trying to figure out what this law implies, I am no closer to being certain, and with the penalties being what they are, I am not willing to take any risks, so I am abandoning marketing my work in any form that has to do with kids, even if only "by association".
How Laughing Starfish will change
• My necklaces, even though they have been called “nursing necklaces,” have always been for adults, but I will now make it clear that they are “not for kids.”
• I will continue to be discriminating and choose to only work with materials that are non-toxic (even though I cannot afford to send them to a 3rd party lab for testing – I have no interest in working with hazardous materials and still wish to protect my own health!).
• I shall continue to do the same process of making my loops super durable for klutzes like myself who have a tendency to bust their jewelry all the time.
• I will sell the loops as regular jewelry intended for adults, and they will be not recommended for children under the age of 12.
• My extra-durable loop style will be labeled FiddleStone Loops because I wear them as worry-stones and it no longer has anything to do with nursing for me. I have had a large number of customers who don’t even have children who have told me that they really like the tactile aspects of these pendants for fidgeting with, so I will continue to provide these on my website. I will no longer be including baby shower gift letters with my necklaces, but there will be a new letter that explains the durability and concept behind these loops.
• I will continue to offer the same guarantees I always have for their durability. There's nothing about the way I make them that will change.
Apparently, the one exception to the law that I could find is for custom orders. Special "Can you make me a bracelet with X, Y, and Z?" type orders apparently are still OK. But if I make something, take a picture of it, and put it up on my website for general sale, it’s then considered a "manufactured good." Anything I post that way will not have anything to do with children.
For people who purchased nursing necklaces from me in the past:
Please note: Nursing necklaces should never be used as teethers or toys, nor should they be left alone with an infant or toddler, as the beads are a choking hazard and the cord is a strangulation hazard.
They are not toys, nor should a child be allowed to bite on them - even if your baby doesn't yet have teeth. They are designed to be stronger than most necklaces, so that tugging and yanking won't snap them easily, but the beads are glass and stone, not plastic, and they have not been designed to be chewed on. Remember that even a toothless smile can apply enough pressure to break a bead.
Please use common sense with your jewelry.
What's the difference between a nursing necklace and a regular necklace?
There's really nothing specific about a nursing necklace, technically, other than it's durability.
The necklaces that I called nursing necklaces were simply necklaces that are constructed very strong, so that there's no part that would break off or snap even when wildly yanked. (That is not to say these pieces are completely indestructable, and they should never be used as teething rings for a small child. Beads can and do break on a teething baby- I've seen some amazing strength in those baby gums, even when there's no tooth to chomp. I have even heard stories of babies managing to break solid pieces of metal, so these necklaces should not be confused with the colorful plastic toys at your local kid store!)
There are many sellers of nursing necklaces online that sell work which implies that babies will be unlikely to notice a piece of jewelry unless it is "colorful" and looks like a toy. It has been my experience, however, that my children always preferred things that were more adult - as illustrated by the dozens of times I spent hours trying to locate what they did with my car keys while their colorful plastic ones sat ignored in their toy box. I suspect the plastic ones are born out of the idea that teeny infants see bright colors better, but infants at that stage haven't yet reached an age where nursing necklaces come into play. Nursing necklaces worn by mothers of infants before the age of about 3-4 months are really purely ornamental, as is all jewelry.
I strive to make all of my necklaces something that is beautiful and will be enjoyed by everyone, not just baby. And indeed, many of my customers buy the loop-style necklaces constructed with nursing necklace strength without ever intending to use them for their "functional" purpose.