Do you have any more information about what kind of thread and clasps should be purchased for nursing necklaces? I understand that they should be strong enough not to break when the little ones are tugging on them, but I am not at all familiar with jewelry making. Also, any guidance about any types of beads to avoid since they may be chewed on. Thank you!
Good questions! I’m a novice too but I gathered some safety information about nursing necklaces. The first and foremost safety warning is that the beads are a choking hazard and children under age three should not be allowed to play with them unsupervised. A nursing necklace is intended for a baby to play with it when it’s around your neck and the baby is nursing, and not for putting in the baby’s mouth. While it shouldn’t be used as a separate toy, it’s best to design the necklace as safely as possible. Some things to keep in mind:
Beads. The two safest choices seem to be non-toxic plastic beads or polished gemstones. Plastic has the advantages of being inexpensive, colorful and varied in texture. Personally I avoid plastic in any baby-related items and would prefer the more expensive (and prettier!) polished gemstones. If you buy gemstone beads, read their labels and make sure that any treatment of the beads is safe (some are dyed). Avoid painted beads and beads made of wood, porcelain and glass due to the risk of splintering or chipping.
Cording. Nursing necklaces available on the web generally use nylon beading strand, stainless steel cording, professional grade beading wire or some combination of those and a crimping bead in between. You can read more about the properties of various cording materials here. There is a concern that nylon-coated stainless steel cording is susceptible to wear and that after the nylon coating rubs off the steel is sharp, fine and vulnerable to breaking. Tickled Pink Designs suggests that Spectra Fiber Cord–white polyethylene–is the safest. Avoid string, yarn, hemp and leather which are problematic if they get wet. Also avoid any metal that would rust if it got wet.
Length. Nursing necklaces can be anywhere from 26-34 inches long, but the standard length seems to be 30-32 inches.
Safety clasp. Consider using a safety clasp that pulls apart if the child tugs too hard on the necklace or gets entangled in it. A safety clasp ensures that the necklace comes apart at the clasp and does not break at another point and scatter the beads. Most safety clasps are made of plastic. You can see samples and find more safety tips at Mommy Necklaces or Booby Beads. There are magnetic safety clasps available but their safety has been questioned–it’s possible for the small magnet to fall out of the clasp and be swallowed by the child.
About.com offers a comprehensive page on beading basics and free beading designs. Keep in mind that you can browse pictures of necklaces for sale on-line for inspiration but their designs are copyrighted and should not be reproduced in their entirety. There are many sites offering free beading tips and designs.
One fun way for a novice to get started is to have a beading party hosted by a more experienced beader or a professional (much like the old Tupperware parties)! The bead store in my hometown offers private group sessions for a girls’ night out.
Experienced beaders, please share your safety and design tips with us in the comments!