The telltale drooling and tendency to munch on anything within reach often announces a baby’s first tooth.
The thought of your baby chomping down while nursing is enough to make most women cringe. Before you consider weaning, there are ways to make breastfeeding easier and more comfortable, even when your baby has a mouth full of teeth.
Use Teething Rings
A teething ring or cold washcloth gives your baby a chance to soothe his sore gums. Give your baby a chance to chew before nursing so his mouth feels better. A massage of the gums is another method of providing some relief. Relieving some of the teething pain before nursing might decrease the chances of your baby chewing on your breast to relieve the discomfort. If your baby bites down on your breast, remove him and offer him a teething toy. This helps him learn that the teething toys are for chewing, not your breast.
Watch Baby’s Cues
Biting is more likely to happen when your baby is full, distracted or bored during a nursing session. Watch for signs that your baby isn’t interested in nursing, such as looking around or not sucking. Take a break from the nursing session if she acts like she doesn’t want to eat. Another cue that she might bite is moving her tongue away from the breast. She will usually pull her tongue out of the way to avoid biting it. If you notice this movement, remove her from the breast before she bites.
Handling a Bite
A bite to the breast is painful, but a calm reaction keeps the situation under control. Avoid yelling at your baby for biting you because it can have negative consequences. For some babies, the yelling could be considered an interesting reaction, causing him to continue biting to see it again. Other babies become scared or confused by the yelling. These negative feelings might then be associated with nursing. A break in the nursing session teaches your baby that biting isn’t acceptable. If your baby won’t release the bite, slide your finger between his gums and gently separate them. Another method is to pull your baby near your breast. This method encourages the baby to pull away since breathing is more difficult.
You probably have your favorite nursing positions, but changing how you hold your baby could help alleviate discomfort caused by her teeth. Add an extra pillow to support her weight or try a different position completely. No matter what position you use, make sure she gets a solid latch on your breast. A poor latch can result in even more discomfort from your baby’s teeth.