By Sue Hubbard, M.D.
I recently saw a TV segment on "blinging" your baby or toddler. It seems that the latest craze is decking out not only little girls, but also little boys. Being the mother of three sons, I can understand wanting to "dress up" your little boy (clothes for this group can be a bit boring), but a few of the young TV models were even wearing necklaces.
Now, a boy wearing a necklace doesn't bother me at all, but a baby or toddler with a necklace is cause for concern. This isn't about gender, but rather safety. A necklace is a genuine choking and strangling danger for babies and young children.
I realize that many parents receive necklaces for their babies on the occasion of a baptism, and in some cultures an infant is given a necklace made of string or beads to wear soon after birth.
But whenever a baby comes into my office wearing a necklace, I discuss the possibility, even if remote, of the child suffocating if the necklace got caught or twisted around the infant's neck. There's just no reason to even risk it!
Baby bling is great if you want to dress your child in cute shirts, hats, or even trendy jeans. Go for it! But I would never put a necklace on a child. It's akin to the adage about peanuts: When should a child be allowed to eat peanuts? When they can spell the word!
We pediatricians are no longer worried about peanut allergies in young children; the choking hazard is the real concern. It's the same for necklaces. Let your child wear one of these when they can spell the word, or put one on when your 3-year-old plays dress up, but take it off once the play session is over. No young child should ever sleep in a necklace, or anything that has a cord.
Children ages 4 and under, and especially those under the age of a year, are at the greatest risk for airway obstruction and suffocation. So, put that cute necklace back in the box for a while. You can re-gift it at a later date. Safety before bling!
Dr. Sue Hubbard is a nationally known pediatrician and co-host of "The Kid's Doctor" radio show. Submit questions at www.kidsdr.com.
This column was printed in the February 23, 2014 - March 8, 2014 edition.