Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to everyone and it can be hard work sometimes, especially in the early days. So what about when you also have to contend with teeth?
Now the average age that teeth start to appear is around six months, but we don’t all fit into the ‘average’ category now do we? Even if this was the case, many dedicated breastfeeding mums continue way past six months so teeth must be an issue for lots of mums.
With my first child I exclusively breastfed for six months and her teeth started appearing just as our breastfeeding journey was coming to an end. I went back to work full time and although I had enough expressed milk to last her a couple more weeks I wasn’t able to continue expressing after that. With my second I had eight months maternity leave and breastfed exclusively for that eight months but there were no teeth in sight then so again it just wasn’t an issue for us.
With my next little man, I fed him until nine months (as I now work from home), when he decided he didn’t need boobs anymore and so we stopped. Not quite how I had thought it would be, but he made it very easy. He did however get his first tooth at five months and by the time we stopped at nine months he had a mouthful of gorgeous white teeth.
He didn’t bite very often but when he did it really made my eyes water. I discovered that there was a pattern to his biting whilst feeding and he was either full up and just messing around, had another tooth coming or was distracted.
The arrival of our final little man was a different story. By two months he was drooling daily and I could feel teeth under his gums. By three months, two solid little teeth popped through the gum overnight and he was instantly nibbling on me from then on.
I fed him until he was fourteen months. He didn’t bite every day and sometimes we could go a good few days without a bite but again I noticed a pattern and some things that triggered this.
- Poor latch
- Being distracted – that’s when your nipple gets tested for stretchiness
- Being full at the end of a feed
- Having wind
- Falling asleep during a feed
- Having a cold
- Being curious – what will Mummy do if I bite her nipple really hard?
So how can you discourage biting?
The things I found to work the best were:
- Stop feeding, try and wind your baby then allow them to re-latch
- Stop whatever else you are doing, make eye contact, talk to your baby and re-latch
- Try feeding in a different position
- Learn to recognise when your baby has finished
- Don’t allow them to play with your nipple
- Take them off the breast if they fall asleep
- Give a teething toy before and after a feed
Are you breastfeeding a baby with teeth?