Funny that in the same week that I received the comment “Oh you are still breastfeeding? But, umm, she has TEETH?” that I also received an email from a university friend asking for my take on dealing with teeth and breastfeeding. So, I guess, it’s a important topic. I have been told, on numerous occasions, that once BiP got teeth, breastfeeding, must, I mean, MUST come to an end. Ask why and I guarantee there is no viable answer. One thing is for certain; it changes things.
When do babies get their first tooth?
This is a spectrum – the average age is 6 months but it can range anywhere from 4 months to as late as 18 months.
Won’t breastfeeding a baby with teeth hurt?
Yes, it can. It probably will hurt but no baby intends to bite you (well, not usually, BiP sometimes bites if I doing something outlandish like talk to someone whilst she is nursing)!
How do I deal with teeth, biting and breastfeeding?
The key thing to remember is that NO baby intends to hurt their mother and cut short their breastfeeding journey – I say journey because it really is one! In reality not all babies bite, it’s just that many do!
So here are my tips to prevent biting:
- Make sure your baby’s mouth is open wide enough – Once BiP got teeth I realised that she never opened her mouth wide enough in the first place so teeth got in the way.
- Usually when babies are teething it’s around the same time that they are aware of their surroundings so it might be a good idea to nurse somewhere quiet. Distracted babies can bite.
- If you baby is teething give a teething toy before a nursing session or let them chew a teething necklace.
- Make sure you baby wants to feed before offering the breast to minimise biting (this might sound awful but I found that I usually got bitten when BiP wasn’t really in the mood to nurse).
Remember: A nursing baby CANNOT feed and bite at the same time!
What do I do if my baby bites me?
Most say to ignore it but if the bite is anything like I’ve experienced that is next to impossible.
- I’ve found that taking BiP off the breast and explaining that biting means that we won’t be able to continue is usually very effective (BiP at 6m would cry her eyes out during this explanation and then nurse correctly).
- Sometimes, you’ll need to move somewhere quieter to concentrate on your baby (BiP would bite if I was talking to someone or playing with my phone).
- Abandoning that nursing session for a while is also a solution especially during transitions between dropping feeds.
At the end of the day it is important to remember that no baby, that I have ever heard of, has bitten a mother’s nipple off – although it may feel like it is possible! I know with BiP I have held my breath and looked down to be shocked that my nipple was still attached!!! Yes, it can hurt. Yes, you can end up with cuts. Dig out that lanolin and air dry when you can. It is not uncommon, and usually painless, to have teeth marks on your breast post feed once you have the biting under control. I promise it’s a short lived stage and there is NO reason to wean your baby just because they have teeth.
For more information check out KellyMom (this site should be in your bookmarks already!)
What are you tips on dealing with breastfeeding a baby with teeth?