The teething process is a time of discomfort and strangeness for babies. The process doesn’t last forever – it can be rough but you’ll get through it!
A huge part of your baby’s first year is the process of all of their little teeth coming in. They go from zero to a mouthful during their second six months (typically) to sometime in their second year. Imagine the discomfort and strangeness for the little sweeties!
The teething process isn’t only in their mouth – you’ll notice a “whole body effect”: changes in mood, behavior, sleeping patterns and nursing; lots and lots of drooling; discomfort; and sometimes even fever and rashes. It’s a lot for their little bodies to handle (and a lot for us moms!).
Luckily, the process doesn’t last forever (though you may need to remind yourself many times over that “this too shall pass”). Hang in there, mamas – it can be rough but you’ll get through it, I promise! After you survive the teething phases, you can look forward to the strangeness of watching your older child lose their baby teeth and go through the transition of growing adult teeth!
When your child’s teeth grow in, you will definitely notice some changes when nursing, but this doesn’t mean that their teeth will automatically bite you when they latch on (remember that when a child latches, your nipple is under their tongue and typically their teeth are covered). It’s totally normal that as they’re adjusting to this new mouthful of little sharp objects, there will be a period of adjustment for breastfeeding too.
You may find that your little one bites you and OUCH – it totally hurts! It can be an automatic reflex to cry out in pain, which might scare them. This is normal and we’ve all been there. Babies and children are all different and what works for some might not work for others. Like much of parenting, it’s about trial and error.
Here are some ideas and resources to help you get through this rough patch and to keep on nursing comfortably:
- If your baby has clamped down on your nipple, unlatch by using a finger to gently “break the seal” on their mouth. It’s helpful to say “Ouch – no teeth please! Be gentle.” They will get the point after a while. It can be helpful to set baby down next to you when they bite and then try again. Stopping the nursing session shows your child that biting isn’t okay, and you can either try again or baby might want to play or move onto something else.
- Try using something cold on baby’s gums before and/or after nursing – a frozen teether or washcloth with a little breastmilk expressed onto a corner and frozen are great options.
- If you experience a bite that leaves an open sore, try something cold on the wound before and after nursing. Apply breast milk to it to speed up healing and air dry as often as you can. This can really hurt when nursing, but breathing through the discomfort and using relaxation techniques (like in labor!) can be really helpful.
- Many moms love amber teething necklaces to help ease teething discomfort for babies.
- A small amount of clove essential oil diluted with coconut oil on baby’s gums can help to numb discomfort.
- Try a nursing necklace. Sometimes baby just needs something to chew on. These can be a lifesaver and are also helpful for easily distracted babes – something for them to focus on/touch/hold while drinking their milk.
I love this little bit of wisdom from Barbara Taylor:
“Patience, persistence, thoughtful observation, and sensitivity to a child’s feelings are important mothering tools at any age. If your baby goes through a biting phase, be assured that it will be short-lived and you will be able to continue nursing until he outgrows the need.”
What has been the most challenging aspect of teething for you? What are some things that have worked for soothing your little one?