FDA Approved Beads… What?

Nope, they’re not for snacking.  They’re a precaution for your children’s health.  Apparently, there is a demand for beaded jewelry that is kid-friendly.

Food and Drug Administration Logo

Food and Drug Administration

Anyone who has a very little one knows that a shiny bauble in a child’s hands is also likely to end up in their mouth.


As a nonparent, I was oblivious to the existence of the kid-friendly bead industry until very recently when a customer came to me with an inquiry.  First, she asked about lead content.  I advised her to stay away from crystal unless it is specifically labeled lead free.  Swarovski now offers lead-free crystal, but other types, such as Chinese Crystal, are risky.  Even with my novice, aunt-only experience (my handsome, genius nephew, Gideon, is recently 8-months old) I know that children chewing on lead-containing beads is a very bad thing.  I suggested lead-free pewter beads and charms and sterling silver.  Then, knowing a lot of children’s toys are made out of plastic, I figured I’d recommend acrylic beads.  She followed up with the inquiry, are our plastic beads BPA free?


At which time I realized I was in over my head and research was required.  Moms (parents I should say) have to worry about a lot of things, including lead/BPA in the beads they wear, along with whether or not they pose a choking hazard to their children.  When I googled “kid-friendly beads,” I quickly discovered that there is an entire market of jewelry available for women who don’t want to be concerned that their jewelry might be dangerous for their little ones.


Sonny and Reed, a small, mother-run jewelry business, even offers jewelry made with FDA approved materials.  Apparently you could eat their beads and not be harmed.  You’d have trouble eating them though, because they’ve cleverly designed them in a size and shape that won’t fit through the human choke-tube.  In a nutshell, your baby can safely chew on your necklace while you remain stress-free.
Unfortunately for us jewelry designers, though, I had trouble finding anyone who offered kid-friendly loose beads or other jewelry making materials.  How cool would it be to be able to design a piece of jewelry for your new-parent friends that doesn’t bring along with it a host of concern?  One trend is making nursing necklaces; especially strong (to withstand baby tugging) pieces made with large, colorful and interesting beads meant for baby to play with while mommy holds her/him.  Now that is a neat gift to give along with a mommy bracelet.
Kelly Henderson

Kelly Henderson is a jewelry designer and editor of the Auntie's Beads blog. When she's not beading, you might find her chasing her one-year-old son, Sawyer, watching bad reality TV or reading a good book.

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