Chewelry: to Chew or Not to Chew?

Updated on March 09, 2012
K.M. asks from Oakland, CA
17 answers

Had a great convo with a bunch of mamas at school drop-off today about "chewlery."

It's chewable, wearable jewelry that kids can use who are teething, or kids who generally like to put other things in their mouths (paper, whatever). My daughter says that her teacher thinks it helps some fidgety kids focus.

Now, keep in mind that my daughter is a 6YO--in first grade! So this isn't some infant/toddler teething thing. And a handful of kids are getting these in her class.

So us mamas were discussing, is this just a weird fad? Does it help some kids who would otherwise put unsavory things in their mouths? Or is it just starting an oral fixation with kids who might otherwise not have one? Likely yes, yes, yes.

I must say, my daughter is sucking and gnawing on this disk (that is larger than I expected it to be--ordered it online) in a way that is fairly gross... My husband is horrified! I am too a bit. But we would sometimes find her with a wad of paper in her mouth. So I thought this would be an improvement. Now I'm not so sure.

Any other mamas out there have any experiences with this stuff? Would love to hear from you!

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answers from Lincoln on

My daughter has one and uses it all the time. They are mostly used for Autistic children or children who have sensory processing disorder and need oral stimulation. My daughter is special needs and so this oral chew ring helps her wonders! Calms her down when she is agitated and gives her that sensory oral satisfaction that she needs!! The teacher probably didn't elaborate to much on specifics, because that would be invading individual child privacy.

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answers from San Francisco on

Guess what is happening developmentally for 5-7 year olds? They are TEETHING again and that is why they chew on things. Oral stimulus for children that need them are different, and work really well if you need them. In this case, I actually think I may grab one for my 5 and 6 year olds. We are losing teeth like crazy and pencils, toys, shirts, anything are going in the mouth.

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answers from Seattle on

The ones marketed for teething are generally different than the ones marketed to the kids with sensory disorders.

Chewelry for most students is _probably_ a dumb idea. But, some kiddos have problems focusing (e.g., ADHD) and some kiddos have sensory disorders. The chewelry is for those students.

I bought something similar for my oldest, who has sensory issues. It seemed better to give her something she was "allowed" to chew on and avoid icky shirt sleeves and collars. But, I bought her the teething one (like you described, a rubber disc on a string) and she didn't like/use it. If I were to try again, I'd buy the stretchy necklace. I do think this would help her focus and would also help to calm some of the neurons pinging in her brain when she's on sensory overload.

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answers from San Francisco on

Chewelry is an excellent tool for children suffering from sensory processing disorder. It has nothing to do with teething. It is all about using whatever tool is available to provide sensory input so children can sooth themselves and stay focused in the classroom. Like many conditions SPD is a spectrum - it's entirely possible your child has never been properly diagnosed and is somewhere on the spectrum if she is exhibited a strong need to chew or get other forms of input like lots of wrestling, touching, bumping or just plain playing hard.

Our son was diagnosed with SPD at 3 yo and we have provided him with every tool and avenue available (sports) so he could get the sensory input he needs to be successful in the school environment in particular. Before he was diagnosed he was observed wrapping a rubber band around his finger tightly to apply pressure just so he could sit through the 2nd circle time of the day in preschool.

I would embrace chewelry and consider having your daughter tested by an occupational therapist to see if she is on the SPD spectrum.

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answers from Dallas on

I had one for my son when he was teething (teething bling), and it was awesome!! He started teething very early, and had a bunch of teeth by four months. At two months old and unable to hold anything himself, that necklace was a lifesaver!!

I have a friend with a mildly autistic child. She has the same necklaces for her child. He truly needs something to chew on. My niece has ADHD, and the necklace (she's 13!!) has REALLY helped her focus in school. It has been a lifesaver for her. She really struggled with fidgeting and distraction mightily. I say, whatever works. A disk made of safe materials that you can sanitize, is much better then paper and other my opinion.

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answers from Detroit on

Mommy necklaces? As in ?

Ummm, I have one is 5 shapes and colors and I dont leave the house without one.

I dont see how an older child would use it, but its my 9 month old's favorite thing in the world. And they look good on me. :)

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answers from Dallas on

My eight-year-old daughter says that she has a classmate who has a "chewy" as they call it. It is worn on a necklace and yes, when he is feeling fidgety, he chews on it. She says it helps him focus. (he has ADHD). All the kids in the class know that he has it, and they all know why he uses it. Sometimes when he's rambunctious they will remind him "Hey ___, get your chewy out!" I think if it helps fidgety kids who have problems focusing, it's a great idea. Would I get them for my daughters? No, I don't think providing a distraction is in any way conducive to better focus in children who are already perfectly capable of paying attention by their own free will. With cell phones, apps, computers, iphones, ipods, hand-held video games, our children are already distracted enough!

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answers from San Francisco on

I suppose the effectiveness of this wearable teether is relative to every child. I bought one for my daughter for her to chew on when she was teething on her 6th month. She took notice of it several times, gnawed on it and after awhile ignored it and went for the remote control, books, pens - pretty much everything she can get her hands on. Basically, it didn't work for my daughter. Now, at 18 months old she's STILL teething but I no longer use the disc/necklace I bought because I came to realize how unsanitary it is. It has somewhat of a rubbery texture and just picks up whatever dust and dirt it comes in contact with. Even the fibers of your sweater. And quite honestly, being the accessory hoarder that I am, it's not even attractive to wear at all. It's also for that very reason that I stopped wearing it, because I felt like I was teaching her that it was OK to grab and put ANY kind of necklace or accessory in her mouth. Definitely NOT a good idea. At such a young age, I don't really expect her to be able to tell the difference between Mommy's chewelry from the Swarovski.

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answers from New York on

Children w/ sensory integration dysfunction---which can overlap w/ ADD or ADHD / autism, etc can benefit tremendously from chewing. I once had a first grader in class who chewed gum. I made sure of it and it worked wonders for attention. The gum was chewed and the jaw was working--and helping the child to stay in sync !

I, myself, have sensory integration dysfunction (ineffective neurological processing). I was never helped as a child. **An experienced OT can test.

A child with sensory can rarely describe his/her sensory experiences - and has no baseline w/ which to compare them.

I was bright and looked typical-- and fell through the cracks-- but really needed help to compensate for my sensory dysfunction.

The book "Out of Sync Child" is a fabulous tool.

Many teachers are not trained in special ed. If you find a teacher who gets it---and IT IS THAT--- intervention is needed.

The input from the jaw is powerful !

Kudos to the teacher...If the kids really do need that kind of sensory input.

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answers from Albany on

Well, both my boys used to chew on their shirt collars, somewhere between k and 2nd grade. Nervous habit, focusing aid, whatever. Peer pressure (another kid pointing out how gross it was) killed it.

It is a fairly common tool in OT and PT in the special ed school I worked in.

So I guess a clever Mom just took an old idea a made some money from it?


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answers from Oklahoma City on

People of all ages chew on stuff, think pencils, fingernails, hair, etc...lots of people chew things. I think if a person is discrete and does not openly chew the heck out of a bracelet or necklace I would not really care as long as their teeth were not effected. I could see the dental industry suddenly having to put crowns on the teeth due to them being worn down after time.

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answers from Philadelphia on

im confused it looks like an expensive teething ring attached to a braclet or necklace for children with sensory disorders. If your child has a sensory issue I see the point. However for children able to cope with being told not to eat/put things in their mouth it seems silly. I put pens, erasers and other objects in my mouth...always did when I was little too. I do it without noticing, I don;t think a necklace would work because thats a purposepul thing to do. If I was aware of it I;d choose not to. My daughter akways sucks in her lower lip until its bruised its also something thats a tick that shes unaware of, this would not help her, it would J. add another oral fixation to the list. It wouldn't stop her from sucking nd chewing on her outer lip.
IDK I'm confused on how this would work with kids who do not have special needs?

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answers from Dallas on

While there are always exceptions, I don't like chewelry for infants or toddlers teething because I don't want my kids to think it okay to chew on jewelry and they are too young to disquish between what they can and can't chew, and I don't want to say it's okay to chew one and not the other. I think it would be confusing for a infant/toddler. As for older kids, I guess it may help them focus, but I think it's gross to chew on things, so why give someone something to chew on, when they really don't need it. At 6 years old, you should be able to sit and pay attention without having to chew on something to do so, again there are always exceptions.



answers from Sacramento on

Whoops, just went to answer without reading past comments, so if I'm repeating please forgive me.

I'll look at the other responses after I type mine.

First, I would say yuck to the chewelry. Children especially in this age category are not well aware of how viruses spread. They often share things even when they are not supposed to. They pick their noses, put their hands in their pants, don't wash their hands then touch stuff. Ugh! The thought horrifies me and I am not, I repeat I am not a germaphobe, I just know. I've worked with a lot of children and witnessed it.

With that said, there is much research on how chewing strengthens the jaw, neck, and core--all connected according to my son's speech therapist. So she provided chewy tubes for him in preschool to use instead of putting toys in his mouth.

When I had my own classroom, I allowed the children to chew gum (gasp), because there is also research that the chewing helps with concentration. My rule in the class was they were allowed to have it as long as I didn't see it, they chewed with their lips closed, and if I ever found it anywhere on tables, rugs, etc. That would be the end of this priviledge. The children were to save their wrappers, and spit the gum into the wrapper or a piece of paper before they left the class to go to PE, recess or another classroom. I cleared this with my principal, and the other teachers knew what was going on.

Only twice did I ever find gum any where besides where it was supposed to be, and you should have seen the children scramble to clean it up regardless of whom it belonged to, because they didn't want to lose the privilege.

So I say, discuss some other options with the teacher to get the chewlery out.



answers from Chico on

I got my son a t-shaped chewy stick when he was 4 or 5 because he was chewing the buttons off his shirts, bending the zipper pull with his teeth, and chewing on his clothes until they were sopping wet! He's now 8 and still sometimes chews it. The same company that makes the one I got also sells chewable pencil toppers (tubes), which I considered getting because when he started school he was gnawing on the pencil! I don't see anything wrong with it. I wonder if the shape and size of the disc your daughter has is making her drool more than a slimmer object would? I don't think it's "just a fad" that school aged kids chew on things, and I think it's great that your daughter's teacher is encouraging chewing on healthy things instead of the pencil tops, etc. Maybe you could discuss with the teacher about the "grossness" of your daughter's chewing? She might have suggestions of what you could say to your daughter about when and how to use the chew thing appropriately? (Like we don't chew it at the dinner table. or We don't ignore the slime.)



answers from San Francisco on

Personally, I don't like them. At 6 yrs old a child should not need something to chew on when they are loosing teeth or have them coming in. They should be mature enough to deal w/t by taking an IB Profen like drug if there is any pain. Our 6.5 yr old is still a finger sucker (for comfort) but he does not suck his fingers at school. He is going thru the phase of chewing on the neck of his shirt which drives me crazy as it ruins his shirts. He does it mostly out of stress, I think. He does have 3 teeth up front that are loose so I'm sure that is the main reason he's chewing his shirt. But that does not mean I'm going to replace chewing on one item for another one, ie, give up one habit to create another one. It all has to go at some point so why encourage it more? I think it is a fad & your daughter now has a habit (partial thanks to the teacher) that she didn't have before. Get rid of it & find other, more age-aproppriate ways for her to stay focused or deal w/loose teeth.



answers from Washington DC on

A "handful of kids" are getting them in her class? Unless they have diagnosed issues and an occupational therapist or doctor has prescribed these kinds of things for sensory disorders, or to help the child focus, why are these kids getting them? These should not ever become fashion statements. My friend's son had eraser-like but safe "chewies" he used successfully to use in class during tests etc. but those were approved and provided by an occupational therapist - not something his parents bought on their own.

The point is eventually to end the NEED for the chewing and sucking through occupational therapy or other interventions. Chewing items can help but isn't the idea really to get the child to stop needing them over time? That would mean additional and professional help.

I know some teachers will say, "Whatver helps kids focus is OK," but I'd like to know what other teachers think. I can imagine this becoming very distracting to other kids if more and more kids in a class use these and don't have a diagnosed need to do so.

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