How to breastfeed a teething baby
Nursing a teething baby is challenging, and that’s why you need to learn how to breastfeed a teething baby.
When it comes to growing teeth, no two babies are the same. Some babies can start teething as early as four months while for some it could take a year for them to cut their first tooth. However, the average age for teething is six months.
Whether your child reaches this milestone very early or a little bit late, chances are that you’ll still be nursing at that point since the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least a year.
What is teething?
Before we show you how to breastfeed a teething baby, you should, first of all, get an understanding of what teething means.
Patient.info defines teething as the process whereby a baby’s first set of teeth emerges from their gums. This process usually happens during the baby’s first year.
Signs that tell you when your baby is about to start teething
• The baby becomes irritable and fretful
• Soreness and redness around the gum where the tooth is coming out from
• The baby is dribbling or drooling more than before
• The baby starts to chew on things
• The baby rubs their ear a lot
The NHS observes that diarrhea and fever are often associated with teething even when there’s no scientific evidence to support this claim. You need to take the baby to see a doctor if you notice these symptoms.
Breastfeeding a teething baby: what should you expect?
Breastfeeding a teething baby will present a unique set of challenges for both the mom and the baby. Everything will be different from when you had to deal with the baby’s firm but gentle gums.
The changes to expect include:
Teething is uncomfortable for your baby, and to deal with this discomfort and pain, they’ll start to bite down on things to relieve their gums. Unfortunately, your nipples will become just one of the things they can chew on. New baby teeth are sharp enough to cut through their gums, and they can be very painful on your nipples.
Biting can be corrected by making sure the baby is latched on properly. Once the latch is correct, it is impossible for your bite while breastfeeding.
Changes in the baby’s teeth and gums can affect the way they latch onto your breasts. You and the baby will need to readjust and make accommodation for the new growth. You can learn how to breastfeed a teething baby if you keep readjusting until you both achieve the perfect latch.
Dribbling is one of the symptoms of teething, and it can affect your feeding sessions. Leaving the dribble on the baby’s skin can cause irritation or skin issues like rashes. It can also affect your breast, but you can prevent any problems by wiping the saliva off the baby and making sure your breasts are dry after nursing.
4. More nursing sessions
Your baby will get irritable while teething and you will need to soothe them. Nursing is a great way to temporarily distract them from the discomfort they may be feeling. You need to know how to breastfeed a teething baby because the baby will demand breast milk more than ever at this time.
Possible reasons why your baby bites during breastfeeding
BreastfeedingBasics.com lists some of the reasons babies bite during breastfeeding to include:
• The baby is already full
When the baby is done nursing, they may bite you to let you know they no longer need to feed.
• Trying to get your attention
The baby could bite you as a way of getting your attention, especially if you are busy with your phone, watching TV or simply distracted. To prevent this, you should maintain eye contact with the baby or touch and talk to them as they nurse.
• Blocked ducts and limited milk supply
Biting can be a sign of frustration when your baby isn’t getting enough milk. The baby may clamp down on your nipples out of desperation to get the milk flowing again.
• Incorrect latch
The correct latch has the baby’s mouth wide open with the nipple far back in their mouth. If the baby hasn’t latched on correctly, the nipple will be close enough to their teeth that they can bite at will.
• When he doesn’t want to nurse
Knowing how to breastfeed a teething baby also means knowing when not to force them to nurse. Sometimes mums push a nipple in a baby’s mouth when they want to quiet them if they become restless, but this can backfire if the child doesn’t want to breastfeed. It is possible for them to bite as a way of showing you that they are not interested.
How to prevent biting
• Stop nursing immediately if they bite you
• Don’t scold the baby, but tell them in a firm voice that it hurts you and stop breastfeeding
• Frequent biting can also be a sign that your baby is ready to wean
Nursing a teething baby can be challenging, but it could be easier if you read our tips on how to breastfeed a teething baby.
Resources: La Leche League GB