Can I keep breastfeeding when my baby starts teething?
Yes! Mama, you are able to breastfeed during all stages of your baby's life! Which includes the teething stage. Keep in mind, all babies are different. Some babies are actually born with teeth, while for others the teething process starts around six months, and some don’t get their teeth until they are closer to one (mine!). As you know, breast milk provides excellent nutrition for your baby and it changes for what your baby needs at the time. Teething is often a painful experience for our babies. Nursing and providing your breastmilk can help ease the pain caused by teething. Remember, mama, teething is a small stage in the grand scheme of life. Don’t get discouraged and feel like you have to wean. We are here to help you notice signs and offer tips to help you get through the teething stage!
What About Baby Biting?
Actually, because the tongue covers the baby's lower teeth, an actively nursing baby will not bite (AAP). When teeth are coming up, their gums start to tingle, and as we cannot feel pain and pressure at the same time, a way for them to relieve the tingling pain in their gums is to apply pressure. But as long as they are actively nursing, they cannot bite down. That’s why it is important to look for their cues that signify when they are finished nursing. Typically towards the end of the nursing session is when your baby will nip, so try to pay attention to notice the signs. You can set an alarm to time your feeding session or watch as your baby nurses, you will start to notice their jaw tightening and that is your cue to use your finger to unlatch baby. Try not to pull away as this could damage your nipple.
Tips for when Baby Nips
- Offer teething rings and toys when baby is not nursing. Offer a cold or frozen wet cloth before nursing to help numb the gums to take away any feeling of pain in the gums.
- Encourage let down by massaging your breast before nursing or by hand expressing before giving your baby the breast. This can help eliminate their frustration at waiting for milk and their urge to nip.
- When baby starts drifting off to sleep as she is nursing, be ready to pull her away when you notice the rhythmic sucking is stopping. This will prevent her even being able to nip you.
- Try different nursing positions. Pay attention to her latch. Make sure baby has an open mouth with lips out and your nipple is aimed toward the roof of her mouth. Swallowing and biting simultaneously is impossible, so make sure the baby has a proper latch and is actively nursing.
- If baby does bite, you can firmly say no and end the nursing session. If you go this route, try to be firm but not angry. Once baby learns biting means no more milk, she will stop so she can return to nursing with mom. Keep in mind, this practice will be more difficult if you use nursing to put baby to sleep.
- An alternative to saying “no” is saying baby’s name. This alerts her and distracts her without causing her to get upset.
- Hug baby closer, this will cause her jaw to relax and loosen up or even release.
You got this, mama! Your loving embrace and milk brings your baby comfort. Keep in mind, this is only a stage and soon your baby will be giving you toothy grins! Remember to always reach out with any questions or for support on our website or instagram. We offer Breast Feeding Support through video consultations or even though email. It takes a village mama, you’re not alone!