Eventually, your sweet little baby is going to get teeth. And when he does, you may wonder…”How is breastfeeding going to work with the addition of teeth?” Don’t worry! It’s possible to mix breastfeeding and baby teeth with no injury to mama. But it’s a good idea to be prepared for the next phase of your breastfeeding relationship.
While your baby is learning about his new chompers, you may want to heed the advice of the many breastfeeding parents who have breastfed babies well into toddlerhood and beyond—with nipples intact! Read on for tried and true tips from the experts.
Be vigilant. About the time your baby starts getting teeth, he will also become delightedly social and interactive. Remember that your baby’s tongue covers his lower teeth/gums when nursing—but may pull back when smiling or falling asleep. When he pauses in his breastfeeding to look at you and grin, keep your index finger close by to insert into his mouth in case his tongue pulls back and exposes his lower teeth/gums. Ditto for when he’s falling asleep.
Anticipate his need to chew. Chewing feels good when gums are swollen and tender. Since you are a major source of comfort, It’s natural that your baby may want to chew on YOU. Give him something else to chew on right before breastfeeding. A teething toy, a clean washcloth damp with ice-water, or even a peeled carrot (one that is too fat for him to chip off a piece) will feel good.
Keep calm. Babies at this age are really interested in cause and effect. That is one of their jobs—to learn how they can impact the world. When your baby accidentally bites, you will undoubtedly react. Probably loudly. Probably making a face that he has never seen before. Naturally, since your baby is a proper scientist, he will be delighted by this new behavior and will probably laugh hysterically. That doesn’t mean he is amused by your pain. He is simply amused to see you do something so incredibly interesting and new.
Remain neutral. I know you will do whatever you can to avoid a 2nd bite, but just in case your curious, brilliant baby catches you off guard and bites you for a 2nd time, whatever you do, do not react loudly. Simply insert your finger into his mouth, break his hold and remind him in a calm voice that biting is not acceptable. After awhile all that non-reaction on your part will become boring and he’ll see no need to try that behavior again.
Tell your baby what you want. If your older baby persists in biting occasionally, try to remember he is not trying to cause you pain. You can release the suction, remove him from your breast and tell him gently, “biting hurts mommy, be gentle.” Then, depending on his age, either take a brief break from nursing ( a few seconds) or help him back to the breast—keeping your finger handy. Remind him to “be gentle” and praise him when he’s doing what you ask.
Before you know it, both of you will become accustomed to those pretty new teeth. May you enjoy breastfeeding for many months beyond the toothless smile!
See Also: “Breastfeeding and Teeth“