Breastfeeding and teething

Teething – Transcript

It’s highly likely that your baby will start to cut his first tooth anywhere between four to seven months of age, but every now and again a baby will be born with a tooth! So there is some variation here, and of course it may just be that your baby has already cut the first tooth, and it hasn’t really impacted on breastfeeding at all.

But I do suspect if you’re looking at this video it’s probably because you are starting to experience some discomfort in this process, and you might be finding that your baby’s cheeks are looking a lot more red at the moment. He might be dribbling saliva and starting to get quite fretful – maybe bringing his hands to his mouth a lot more frequently as well.

You might also be finding that your baby is starting to come to the breast a lot more frequently than normal, and babies do this because it feels comfortable. He may have sore and red gums, and it’s actually making him feel better for coming to the breast more, even if he wasn’t coming for nutrition.

And sometimes you can find that your baby may come less to the breast because there’s a degree of pain related to the teething. So generally your baby starts to be a lot more fussy, maybe coming on to the breast, suckling a little bit, pulling off, getting fretful, not wanting to go back on again, or pulling off the breast, or avoiding positions that will make him feel uncomfortable.Baby with teether

So all this fussiness at the breast can certainly take its toll on nipples and you may be experiencing quite a bit of soreness, and I’ve seen many breastfeeding ladies struggling with this period, and even thinking about giving up breastfeeding because of it.

So what can you do to get past this stage? Now one thing is to offer your baby a nice cold refrigerated teething ring. Your baby will really find comfort for those hot and sore gums, and it will also help to anaesthetise his mouth, just that bit, to enable feeding to be a bit more comfortable.

Another thing along similar lines is to use a face cloth that’s been soaked in water (nice clean one, of course), put it into your fridge and keep it there in a very clean container, and allow your baby to chomp on that whenever you feel that he is showing signs that he wants to come to the breast to chomp there. Sometimes babies will be satisfied (enough), just to get rid of that feeling, the need to chomp down – but if your baby starts to suckle on that facecloth, then bring your baby to the breast.

If your baby is 6 months or older, and has already started eating foods, but is going through this teething phase, then you can try cold food like bread sticks, maybe a frozen bagel (something like that), or even a carrot stick. Make sure you stay with your baby when he is eating these things but it’s just going to help to bring some comfort to those gums.

I do know many breast feeding mothers who found that just massaging the baby’s gums a little while they’re going through this teething episode can really make a difference and bring some comfort too. You may also need to consider giving your baby some infant paracetamol. You can speak to your baby’s doctor about that. There are certain dosages that are correct for a baby during the teething phase.

And of course there are other preparations that can numb your baby’s gums that you can buy over the counter, but I would still suggest that you speak to your doctor about that in advance, because there are some products that are taken off the market, and some that are not recommended. So look into that first.

Teething baby biting fingersAnd please bear in mind that if your baby is teething, it is possible that he may even clamp down or even bite as that first tooth comes through. You’re never quite sure when the tooth is going to come through, and sometimes the teething period lasts quite a period of time, even a few weeks.

And when babies are going through this teething phase and biting phase, they will tend to do that at the beginning and the end of the feed. So you can watch for that big wide mouth at the beginning, and get ready to unlatch him towards the end of the feed, whenever you think he’s about to try to clamp down.

And if you do have sore nipples while your baby is teething, then have a look at the videos relating to how you can look after those, and to heal them up – because sometimes even that increased saliva from your baby because of the teething, can irritate them as well.

So I do fully appreciate what breastfeeding ladies are going through when babies are teething – but it is a temporary hurdle, although it can go on for a little while, it is still a hurdle, and with these strategies and some patience of course you will be able to continue.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

Version 1.1 published in March 2019. Next review date: Jan 2022


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