Breastfeeding When Your Baby Is Teething

7 Tips To Get You Through Teething

Teething. YouraPechkin/Getty Images

What Is Teething?

Your baby will begin teething when his first set of teeth, often called baby teeth, are at the gum line and start to break through. Teething can cause swollen, tender, painful, irritated gums.

You baby will probably begin teething somewhere between 4 and 7 months of age, but a first tooth can break through earlier or much later.

Some babies will get their teeth without any signs of discomfort.

For others, teething can be a stressful experience.

Possible Signs of Teething:

  • Fussiness
  • Crying
  • Drooling
  • Chewing on toys or hands
  • A low-grade fever under 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C)

If your baby has a temperature over 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C), notify the doctor. It is unlikely that a high fever is the result of teething, so it would be best to have your child seen by the pediatrician.

Teething and Breastfeeding

When your baby starts teething, it could pose some breastfeeding challenges. Your baby may want to nurse more frequently for comfort, or her gums may be so swollen and tender that she may refuse to nurse.  You may develop sore nipples from the baby using your breast as a teether, and you may begin to worry about the baby biting your breasts once her teeth break through. Here are 7 tips to help get you through the teething phase:

7 Tips For Breastfeeding When Your Baby Is Teething

  1. Give your baby something to chew on before and after feedings. Baby teethers, teething rings, or a cold, wet washcloth can provide your baby with some relief from sore, irritated gums. 
  1. Wash your hands and massage your baby's gums with your finger before you nurse. 
  2. Ask your child's healthcare provider if you can give your baby acetaminophen or ibuprofen. When given 30 minutes before a feeding, it can lessen some of the pain associated with teething.
  3. Change breastfeeding positions if your nipples become sore and make sure your baby is latching on to your breast correctly.
  1. If your baby is refusing to nurse, continue to offer your breast but do not force your child to breastfeed.  A nursing strike does not usually last too long.  In the meantime, pump your breast milk to keep up your milk supply.  If your baby is willing to take your expressed milk, you can give it to her in a bottle or a cup.  
  2. Do not use any numbing remedies on your baby's gums without talking to your doctor first. Numbing gels and lotions can affect your baby's mouth and his ability to nurse. They can make it even more difficult to breastfeed.  
  3. If you are having trouble breastfeeding while your baby is teething, if you have any questions or concerns, or if you need help, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant.  A local breastfeeding group can also be an excellent source of information and support.  

Do You Have To Wean Your Baby Once Her Teeth Come Through?

Many women worry that once a baby gets teeth, the baby will start biting during breastfeeding. While, at some point, it's true that your child may try to use your nipples as a teether, most of the time you can nurse through teething without much of a problem. It is not necessary to wean your baby just because she has started to get teeth.


American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

American Academy of Pediatrics. Your Baby's First Year Third Edition. Bantam Books. New York. 2010.

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