How to Continue Nursing When Your Baby Has Teeth


The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of two years. However, most babies cut their first teeth within their first year. Mothers are often curious about how teething will affect their breastfeeding relationship. Will the baby bite? Will breastfeeding become uncomfortable?


However, when a baby is latched correctly, his lips are flanged and his gums land far back on the areola (the dark area around the nipple). His bottom teeth are covered by his tongue and do not come in contact with the mother’s areola at all. For this reason, a baby who is latched on correctly and actively nursing cannot bite. However, if a baby is latched onto the nipple only, the baby can clamp down and cause pain to the mother’s nipple. Good positioning and latch-on techniques can prevent painful bites.


Many mother find the real challenge occurs when the baby is actively cutting teeth because babies can experience significant discomfort due to teething. They will sometimes alter their positioning to avoid hitting the sore spots on their gums. This can cause mothers nipple soreness and discomfort.


These tips may help:


Before Nursing

  • Offer your baby a cold, wet washcloth or a cold teething toy to chew on.
  • Try massaging your baby’s gums with a clean finger.
  • Before using over-the-counter gum numbing preparations, consult your baby’s doctor. These products may also numb baby’s tongue, and occasionally mother’s areola, making breastfeeding difficult.


During Nursing

  • Try different nursing positions, and ensure that the weight of your baby’s body is well supported when he is latched on.
  • Make sure that baby latches on well every time. Gently remind him to open wide before latching on.
  • Before baby will clamp down on the nipple, he has to move his tongue out of the way or risk biting himself. The observant mother can be ready to stick a finger in the corner of his mouth so the clamping is done on the finger and not the nipple.


After Nursing

  • Consider rinsing your nipples with cool water, as some mothers find that baby’s increased saliva from teething irritates the nipples.
  • Some mothers find it helpful to apply a 100% lanolin preparation intended for nursing mothers.


Around the time that a baby gets teeth, many mothers introduce a sippy cup. Babies often chew on the spouts of these cups and some babies might transfer this same mouth activity to the breast. If you suspect this is happening, here are a few things to try:

  • Take a break from the cup for a while.
  • Try an open cup.
  • Try a cup with a straw and lid.




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