Breastfeeding my son has been such an incredible journey. We’ve struggled through that painful newborn latch, persevered through severe thrush, and nursed right on during a tough bout of mastitis. It hasn’t been easy, to say in the least, but it has definitely been worth it.
Little A has been deep in the pits of teething for what feels like forever, but things really amped up about a month ago. Two teeth have already popped through, and two more are on their way, so he has been a miserable little guy for about 3 weeks now. Everything was going great, and I didn’t even notice a difference in his latch. He nursed more often when a tooth was actually popping through, but things were still wonderful.
Until one morning.
He and I curled up on the couch, our eyes still puffy with sleep. As he ate, I drifted back into dreamland, until a burning pain jerked me back into reality. “OW!” I screamed, pulling him from me.
He had bitten me, and it hurt. So. SO. BAD.
With some love, attention, and lanolin, my nipple was healed within a few days. Since then, I have learned some tips for dealing with a teething baby at the breast.
1. Keep Distractions Away
Worse than a bite itself is the bite and pull. As you probably know by now, babies at this age are extremely difficult to nurse. Little A is a ball of energy, with flailing legs and curious eyes. If something really grabs your baby’s attention, they are likely to bite down before looking around in order to keep the nipple in their mouth. Not. Fun.
2. Watch Baby’s Mood
In these past few weeks, I have noticed that little A is most likely to bite when he is irritated/restless. I’ve also found this is when his teeth seem to be giving him the most pain. Addressing his pain, and calming him down before feeding has proven to be a lifesaver. Sometimes this includes having big A play with him, giving him a freezer toy, or even giving him a teething tablet prior to nursing. If he starts getting restless at the breast, I will usually end the nursing session until he calms down.
3. Don’t Let Baby Play
I have found that if I let little A ‘play’ at the breast after he has finished eating, he is more likely to bite. Again, this all can be judged by their mood, because there are some times when I’m fine with nursing him to sleep, and others when I know he would bite me.
What to do when baby bites:
Prepare yourself, momma. It’s more than likely going to happen, and it’s not the best feeling in the world. My response was not the best one, and it’s one that I have avoided since. By screaming, it is possible to startle your baby to where they may refuse to nurse. What I’ve been doing, and it seems to be working, is firmly saying “No!” and ending the nursing session. This teaches little A that biting is not acceptable behavior, and he will not be allowed to nurse any longer if he’s going to do that.
I’ve only done this twice, but each time resulted in a cranky baby falling asleep. I think as I learn his body language and behavior, we will end the biting all together.
What about you? What are your tips for nursing a teething baby? Leave them in the comments below!
Until next time,
Author: Savannah Baker
Savannah is a full-time mom of one, and can often be found outside on one of her various adventures. She enjoys carving her own path through natural and holistic living, as well as discovering ways to use food as medicine.