The milestones of growing up can be exciting for the whole family! The first time babies smile at us, grab onto us, crawl to us, and so much more! Growing up can be fun – but it can also be challenging and painful! We all have to deal with the physical aches and pains that come with growing. One of the pains every child and parent has to endure is teething. On average, many babies begin teething between four and six months old. If you are a breastfeeding parent, you probably realized that if your goal is to breastfeed for at least six months you’ll have to prepare for breastfeeding a teething baby. We know imagining a teething baby going in to feed can seem a bit intimidating, but no need to fear! We’ve got you covered on ways to work around the fuss of teething and we’re going to go over a crash course on breastfeeding a teething baby.

Signs of Teething and Effects on Breastfeeding

There is a chance that your baby may seem fussy and irritable days or even weeks before the first tooth shows up.  Even though the teething process lasts for about 24 months, the pain is much less intense after the first few teeth come in (thank goodness!)

Some general signs of teething include: gnawing on toys and/or fingers, swollen gums, increase in drool, fussiness, and changes in sleeping and eating. Some signs you may notice if your breastfed baby is teething are: change in latch, breastfeeding parent’s nipples becoming sore from baby ‘gumming’ while feeding, biting while feeding, frequent feeding and baby refusal to nurse.

Ways of Dealing with Teething

First and foremost, if you notice your child wanting to breastfeed more often, that may be their best way for them to cope with the pain of teething. Children that are breastfed are likely to feed more frequently when they aren’t feeling well, as breastfeeding helps to reduce their stress. However, if breastfeeding does not help soothe them, or you are looking for ways to help with gnawing or biting, do not worry as there are plenty of other methods you can use to help.

Try 30 Minutes Before Feeding – Give your child something to gnaw on. Normally when children are teething, the first thing many parents look into are safe-to-chew toys for their child. One amazing brand, Nibbly Bits, has a whole line of teething jewelry and toys that are safe for babies to chew on! It is recommended that the toy not be completely frozen, as it could be too cold and hurt the baby’s gums. One great alternative to chewable toys can be a cold wash cloth – just be sure to supervise when your child is gnawing on anything for pain relief. Also, if the gums are not swollen you can massage your child’s gums with a finger dipped in cold water.

If you are still having problems, discuss with your doctor about using a baby pain reliever.

Dealing with sore nipples

If you are experiencing nipple pain due to a change in latch, your child gumming on your nipples while feeding, or damage from biting, and natural or over-the-counter remedies aren’t working, please visit with your lactation consultant and/or primary physician to go over possible options.

Ah, one of the many challenges of parenting. But don’t worry, you’ve got this! Before you know it, your child will be losing their first tooth and hiding it under their pillow for the tooth fairy. It may seem a bit stressful but one day we hope you’ll look back to the days of teething and realize how awesome you were for overcoming every obstacle!