More and more mom-owned companies are creating child-friendly jewelry that babies can suck or teeth on safely.
"It's pretty cool," said Chandra Turner, executive editor of Parents magazine. "It's getting a lot of buzz on the mommy blogs. My son actually pulled my entire necklace off and all the little beads scurried along the floor. This is a nice alternative."
Amy Maurer of Silver Spring, Md., partnered with fellow mom Kendra LaDuca and created Smart Mom in 2002. It took them four years of product testing and development before they put their silicone pieces on the market.
"We did everything ourselves. We were two stay-at-moms looking for an idea," Maurer said. "We really wanted it to look like real gemstone. We didn't want it to look like you were wearing a teething ring around your neck."
The company has three key designs: a bracelet, a donut-shaped pendant hung on a nylon necklace and a heart-shaped key chain. They come in colors ranging from amethyst to candy apple red and range from about $12 to $20 each.
"It's been really fun because we realized we could do almost anything in this material," Maurer said. "We just figured out we could put scents in there, berry, pineapple and mango."
But Christina Vercelletto, senior editor of Parenting magazine, warns that jewelry that encourages babies to teeth might serve as a green light that all of mom's accessories are for sucking.
"It could start a habit that is hard to break," she said, adding the child-friendly pieces are safe. "If it saves your sanity ... this is something that you might want to look into."
Becky Durham, co-owner of the jewelry company Sonny and Reed, said the beads on her company's chewable jewelry is made with extra nubs for teething. They're enlarged to make sure they're not a choking hazard.
The necklaces are made of both FDA-approved acrylic and colors. They come in black, blue and clear, slip on and include 15 beads. They cost $29.50. "We are just hoping to continue and add new styles and different ideas," Durham said.
Another company, Dr. Bloom's Chewable Jewels, boasts various styles of translucent pendant necklaces, bracelets and key chains made from silicone approved by the FDA. All pigments used for the colors are also FDA-approved and include emerald and topaz.
The pendants on the necklaces, which go for $18.95, come in multidimensional cuts in different shapes, including a hexagon, rectangle and circle. A set of three bracelets is $19.95 and a matching set of a bracelet and a pendant necklace sell for $19.95.
All are designed by a Birmingham, Ala., dentist, Helen Bloom Smith, and her business partners. A percentage of profits are donated to the Starlight Foundation, which helps seriously ill children.
Caryn Paradis, from Deep River, Conn., a mother of two young children, had already created a baby carrier and had a company called Roundhouse Design Collaborative when she and business partner Jen Pitman were in a library with their babies during flu season. They didn't have anything for them to teeth on and play with.
The two thought "wouldn't it be nice if we had something we could wear and just give them," Paradis said.
Their brand, Oh Plah!, was launched with a cuff bracelet made of medical grade, antimicrobial thermal plastic. It comes in six colors, from deep purple to green, and is priced at $19.99. The two are also developing a necklace design.
The partners wanted the company to be environmentally friendly, so they offer to recycle the cuffs once the buyer is finished with them, including shipping.
Would Paradis have thought of it if she hadn't been a mother? "I probably would not have. You have to kind of be in the trenches," she said.