The idea of breastfeeding a baby with teeth may seem daunting, but many mums breastfeed their baby comfortably and you can too. There are a few easy steps you can implement to avoid being nipped when you breastfeed a teething baby. Here are a few of my tips which have helped other mums, just like you.
The thing to remember is that teething is a new sensation for your baby who experiencees varying levels of pain, inflammation and irritability. A natural way to relieve this is to bite or chew – preferably on a cold toy. Biting becomes a game when your baby sees you jump or yelp when bitten and enjoys a new found interaction with you.
Your aim is to minimise the opportunity or need for biting just before the feed is due, take baby off the breast before he or she bites down and help baby understand that whilst he or she doesn’t feel the pain caused by the bite, it is not a great experience for you.
Here five tips to breastfeed a teething baby
Calm baby’s gums before breastfeeding – Offer your baby something cold and hard to chew on before you offer baby the breast. This will soothe baby’s gums and dull the inflammation somewhat before the feed, so that baby isn’t tempted to soothe his or her gums on the breast. Applying teething gel, using homeopathic remedies or pain medication (under your GP’s guidance) can also help baby to feel more comfortable.
Boost your supply – Ensure that your milk supply is abundant and easily accessible for your baby. This encourages baby to focus on the feed when at the breast and reduces feeding time and opportunity for nipping.
Switch nurse – Switch nursing (swapping breasts during the feed) is a great way to breastfeed a teething baby and ensure that he or she keeps accessing milk easily. Look for swallows and if baby isn’t swallowing, compress the breast or switch over to the other side.
Give baby your full attention – As your baby gets older, he or she may use a nip or bite to get your attention during the feed. Talk to your baby, stroke his or head or if he or she is an active little thing, try using distraction by sitting in front of a bright colourful painting that your baby can see over your shoulder.
Try wearing a big chunky colourful necklace that your little one can play with during the feed and use this to engage with baby. Amanda Waring does some really great pieces and they are ally child proof.
Take baby off the breast as the feed comes to an end – Babies tend to bite when they come to the end of a feed and they lose interest. If you can see that your little one is getting restless, wriggly and uninterested, use breast compression to keep your milk flowing or take baby off the breast. You can offer the other side if you feel that baby needs more milk.
If in doubt, try using a nipple shield – If your baby has already bitten you quite hard, you may feel nervous about feeding without some sort of ‘protection’, nipple shields can provide some of the protection you need. Once you have put the shield on, express some milk into the shield, so that your baby gets milk quickly once latched. This will stop your baby from having a quick chew before the milk comes down.
There are so many ways to make things better for you and baby at this new and exciting milestone but if finding what works best for you is a bit of a challenge, just get in touch.