When you are breastfeeding, one of the things you will start to think about is what to do when your baby starts teething. This can happen as early as four months and as late as a year or more. Since this is the case, weaning your baby is not the way to go. There are other ways to ease your discomfort and to prevent your baby from hurting you. However, if it has been 18 months or more, talk to your doctor.
Most babies will not actually bite the nipple while breastfeeding. If proper nursing is going on, you should not be able to feel your baby’s teeth. If you do, simply change positions or reattach your baby. Your baby is physically unable to bite while feeding.
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Signs of Teething
There are some ways to tell if your baby has begun teething. Since this process can cause tender, irritated gums, your baby will probably be uncomfortable. Some children end up showing no signs of discomfort during the entirety of the teething process.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Turning away food
- Tooth visible
- Grabbing ears
- Swollen gums
- Rubbing his or her face
- Chewing on toys or hands
- A low-grade fever under 101 degrees F (38.2 degrees C). If the fever is over 101, it is not likely that teething is the cause. Call your doctor and have your baby checked out.
Ease the Discomfort of Teething
Soothing the gums of a teething baby can work wonders while breastfeeding.
1. Numb the Gums
- Use a cold or frozen teething toy or ice cube to numb the gums before feeding. You can even make a game of it to ease the process.
2. Crushed Ice
- Crush some ice and put it in a clean baby sock, tying it off at the top. The texture of the fabric is soothing and comfortable for your baby to handle.
- A cold or frozen washcloth to chew on can be relieving for your baby.
4. Baby Pain Reliever
- Ask your baby’s doctor about giving baby a pain killer about 30-45 minutes before nursing.
5. Massage Gums
- After washing your hands and before nursing, massage your baby’s gums with your finger.
How to Prevent Biting
At the beginning of nursing:
- Ensure baby is opening wide when latching on. Try giving baby a teething toy or something cold before nursing.
- A baby may be acting like he needs to nurse when he is just teething. Offer baby a toy after he bites or has a close call. Encourage him to use the toy and not you while nursing, talking to him calmly.
Biting at the end of nursing:
- This often occurs when the baby is bored and/or no longer hungry. Watch for signs of him being finished. His jaw may tense right before a bite, so gently remove baby from the breast before he has chance to bite.
- Do not ever force a nursing, even when your baby is distracted. If he is rolling, wriggling, or pushing against you, he probably has no interest in feeding at that time.
Biting for attention:
- Keep your focus on your baby while breastfeeding. Older children might bite to get attention. Staying focused will also help you to be aware of when your baby is about to bite.
Refusal of the Breast
Maintain your milk supply by expressing milk on the schedule your baby is used to breastfeeding on. You can also choose an alternative method to be used when your child is just not having it. To make it easier for baby and you, here are some tips to help him feed even while uncomfortable.
1. Keep Trying
- You can express milk onto your nipple or their mouth to help your baby nurse. If he is frustrated, try again later.
- You can also use an alternative method to feed and then try switching to breastfeeding.
- Keep offering your breast to your baby, especially if he is sleepy.
2. Change Positions
- Your baby can be congested or something else could be causing discomfort. Change your position accordingly and see it that helps at all.
- Cuddle, soothe, and stroke your baby to help him to relax.
- Go to a quiet, dark place to breastfeed your baby. Do not talk or watch TV and keep your baby’s attention on the task at hand. You can let him go back and forth between nursing and playing if necessary.
5. Routine Changes
- Have there been any recent changes in your routine? Some of these changes can affect your baby’s feeding and upset him.
- Important questions to ask yourself:
- Are you stressed?
- Are you pregnant?
- Are you taking any new medications?
- Are you using any new baby products?
- Have you made any changes in your diet?
- Avoid using fragranced deodorant, soaps, or lotions as well as perfume around your breasts.
- Focus on taking care of yourself as well as your baby. Your baby is counting on you so make sure that you are both in good shape, and not just baby.
Breastfeeding a teething baby does not have to be a stressful experience. There are many ways to alleviate discomfort for both of you. Ease baby’s discomfort before and after feeding. This makes sure that it the process is as painless as possible and that your baby does not try to use your nipple for teething.
It is possible never to have to deal with the painful teething if your baby does not feel any discomfort. If that is the case, great. If not, heed these tips and tricks to make the experience as painless and comfortable as possible. Your baby and your body will thank you for being attentive and ensuring that the two of you have the easiest transition.