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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Breastfeeding a teething baby

After experimenting with several different theories and tips, over some time, I feel confident enough to post about what worked for my baby and me.
It was a drawn-out process; Nathan teething, biting me, then me finally getting him to stop. He started drooling early, started biting and being warmer to the touch shortly thereafter. I know, technically those may not all be symptoms of a teething baby. Finally, at 8.5 months he popped out his first tooth! Before this I had been bitten a few times while nursing, but it didn't hurt too much so I more or less ignored it. Big mistake!
Once baby has a tooth, or more, the biting suddenly feels like dying via mini nipple daggers. So awful! Since I wasn't on the ball before when he bit, Nathan thought it was a funny game and it took a lot more work to get him to finally stop.
I read everywhere that if baby bites while nursing, remove baby from breast and end the nursing session. If the biting continues, elevate that to setting the baby in a safe spot (like the crib) for a few minutes and leave the room. This tells baby that not only does he miss out on nursing, but also on mommy time if he bites. This worked for a while but didn't last , unfortunately.
So I began working on preventing it from happening, rather than just reacting if it does. A cold teether for a few minutes beforehand helped a lot, as did giving him painkiller when his teeth were particularly bothering him. I also read recommendations about paying close attention and watching or feeling for when he moves his tongue, since he won't bite with his tongue in the way. And so I stared at him. And stared. Weird as it may have appeared, it certainly helped.
The real big help, however, was having a teether on me, in his reach every time I nurse him. At first I was obsessive about offering it to him while he nursed. Any time he looked up at me, moved, made a noise; it was all "you want this teether?" I am sure I went overboard, but at this point I was in hardcore mode after being bitten hard enough to draw blood. After a few times of this, Nathan realized that it was available if he needed it and I haven't been bitten since!
So, if he bites you:
°Remove him from the breast and set him in a safe spot for a few minutes.
°Give him a cool teether or washcloth for a few minutes before nursing him.
°Keep a teether available while nursing if he needs a quick bite.
Any tips that I didn't mention but worked for you? Please feel free to share in the comments!


Edit: Just came across this post at Life as a Wife, Mummy, and Nurse and discovered Teething Bling! I am so psyched for when I get this in the mail. It's baby-safe jewelry that looks cute! I will no longer have to hold on to a teether and fetch it if Nathan decides to toss it. Fantastic!

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