There comes a time in every breastfeeding mama’s life when she starts to dread nursing. Yes! You guessed it right! It’s the time when your baby starts to show tiny shiny pearls of teeth. Breastfeeding a teething baby who is ready to attack anything that touches them is every mom’s nightmare.
At around the age of 4 – 6 months, many babies start to show some typical signs of teething. Teething can be exceptionally painful, and babies are smart they figure out quickly that biting on fingers, toys, etc., will relieve pain. Soon you will see them gnawing on everything from board books to your breasts; this is when breastfeeding sessions become particularly ugly.
But fear not! You don’t have to give up breastfeeding because of teething. In fact, breastfeeding through teething can be very comforting for your baby. Babies need that comfort from you to get through this difficult teething phase.
Step by Step Guide to Stop Baby Biting Nipples:
1. Offer some pain relief:
When I say pain relief, I don’t mean Tylenol or numbing solutions that you can get from the drugstore. I don’t recommend these over the counter medications for baby teething relief. Instead, there are a lot of natural teething remedies you can try to relieve pain. Best way to kick off your nursing session is by offering a cold washcloth or teether to your baby to chew. Put him on your breasts once he is done biting the teether.
2. Keep an eye on your baby’s sucking pattern:
Will you believe me if I say that your baby cannot bite you while he is sucking? Say What?! Let me explain: A baby cannot suck your breast and bite at the same time. While the baby is nursing the tongue is above the teeth. So when a baby plans to bite, he will first have to stop nursing, pull the tongue back, in order to bite you. Carefully watching the feeding pattern can help you figure out if you’re baby is interested in feeding or planning an attack.
Usually, the teething also coincides with the age that babies become more active and observant. They are on a mission to put all their newly learned skills to work – pulling your hair, poking your boobs, and offering you a free dental check-up with their finger. Any of these sound familiar? One of their favorite activity is to bite your nipples until you bounce off the chair and scream. Uff Not funny! When your baby is distracted, pull off your breasts and offer it back once they are ready for their meal again.
3. Know how to unlatch the baby:
Remember I said that your baby should first pull their tongue out before they bite you? So what should you do once you sense this happening? Slowly unlatch your breasts!
How to unlatch a baby? Follow these simple steps:
- Make sure your finger is clean.
- Slide your finger between your baby’s gums from the side of his mouth, gently turn the finger, like you are unscrewing something, to break the suction. Once your baby opens his mouth, take your nipples out quickly before your little one tries to latch on again.
4. Say No:
Even after being so careful, sometimes your nipples do fall prey to your baby’s dragon teeth. If he did bite you, try to stay calm. Babies love when we react, so if you cry and scream, he will want to bite you again just to enjoy the show. Instead, put on your serious mom face and say that he can’t bite Mommy’s breasts and it hurts. It might seem ridiculous to give an ultimatum to a baby, but trust me, babies are smart, and they will know if they bite, boobs will be removed.
5. Give something to chew on:
Once you explain to your baby why he shouldn’t be biting you, give him a teether and tell him he can use this to quench his desire to chew. Many moms wear a nursing necklace made of silicone or organic fabric and offer that to their infant to bite.
6. Put the baby back:
Now once your baby has gnawed the teether to his heart’s desire, try putting him back on your breasts to see if he has any interest in feeding. If he pulls back or starts playing, take a break and try nursing when he is hungry again.
What to do when your nipple hurts from nursing a teething baby:
Your nipples may become sore from teeth scratching your breasts. You may even develop some rashes around your nipples while nursing a teething baby. One of the teething symptoms is excessive drooling, and the acidity of your baby’s saliva might cause some minor skin irritation.
Best way to treat these skin problems is by applying breastmilk all over your breasts. Let it air dry and repeat this until you feel better. Nipples creams, cooling gel pads and cold compress will work great for sore nipples.
Can you breastfeed if your nipples are bleeding?
Yes! You can! But you probably wouldn’t want to, because it hurts like crazy! You can do one of the two things when you are bleeding:
- Use a nipple shield: I used a nipple shield when I had blisters on one of my breasts. It still hurts to breastfeed on that side, but it makes sure that the baby is not sucking onto the damaged nipples.
- Pump and bottle feed: I suggest you try a manual pump, as you can adjust the suction and speed as per your wish. Haaka silicone pump was one of the most recommended. If you are using an electric pump, start with the lowest speed and pressure setting and move up as you feel comfortable.
Sometimes blood can get mixed with the milk the baby is drinking. In such cases, the baby may throw up blood-stained milk, because he might not like the taste of it. You might even notice some pinkish streaks in your baby’s poop. Don’t panic; it’s not dangerous for your baby to ingest a small quantity of blood-tinged milk. But if you see excessive blood in your baby’s stool, make sure to call emergency and check with your doctor.
What are the other breastfeeding problems that come with teething?
Teething can have extreme breastfeeding outcomes in some babies. While some babies keep nursing normally, some can nurse too frequently, or some may even refuse to breastfeed altogether.
If you ask me, nursing on demand is easier to deal with than going through a nursing strike. Of course, frequent nursing can drain you out, make sure to be well-hydrated and eat well, to keep at it. On the other hand, nursing strike happens when your baby will not take breasts what so ever. In that case, pump on your regular nursing schedule, and bottle feed your baby. Apply hot compress before pumping for a faster let down, massage your breasts during pumping and cold compress between pumping for pain relief.
Many mothers successfully breastfeed through and after teething. Babies usually get the message that biting means no more boobies. Staying calm and consistently saying ‘No’ is the key.
Did you breastfeed a teething baby? How hard was it? What trick worked for you? Let me know in the comments and help other moms get through this terrible teething phase by sharing your experience.
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