Breastfeeding When Your Baby Is Teething

7 Tips To Get You Both Through

YouraPechkinGettyTeething.jpg
Teething. YouraPechkin/Getty Images

Any mom who breastfed while her child was teething can tell you that the pearly whites popping through a baby's gums may be tiny and cute, but they can hurt a tender nipple if he decides to chomp down while nursing. What's more, an infant who's teething can be cranky and want to nurse more often than usual for comfort. Or his gums may be so swollen he doesn't want to nurse.

Breastfeeding a baby whose teeth are starting to sprout can be a challenge, but it's not an insurmountable one.

Don't be tempted to wean your baby because he's getting teeth. There are other ways to get through this phase.

Signs a Baby Is Teething

Some little ones begin to have symptoms of teething before there's any real sign of a tooth. This usually begins somewhere between 4 and 7 months. They include:

  • Fussing
  • Crying
  • Drooling
  • Chewing on toys or hands
  • A low-grade fever

If your baby has a temperature of over 101 F,  call the doctor. A fever that high is more likely to be a sign he's getting sick.

Keep in mind there are babies who aren't bothered a bit when their teeth start coming in. That's nothing to worry about—in fact, it would be lucky for your child and for you.

7 Tips For Breastfeeding a Baby Who's Teething

  1. Give him something to gnaw on before and after feedings. A baby teether or ring, or a cold, wet washcloth can help relieve your little one's sore gums.
  2. Massage your baby's gums with a clean finger before he latches on.
  1. Ask your child's doctor if you can give your baby an age-appropriate dose of Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen) a half hour before feedings. If he isn't hurting he's less likely to chomp down.
  2. Change breastfeeding positions if your nipples become sore and check that your baby is latching on correctly.
  1. If your baby refuses to nurse, continue to offer your breast but don't try to force him. 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 him from a bottle or cup.
  2. Do not use numbing remedies on your baby's gums without talking to your doctor first. These can affect your baby's mouth and his ability to nurse.
  3. Call on a lactation consultant or breastfeeding group if you need more support or information.

Sources:

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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