Breastfeeding When Your Baby Is Teething

You don't have to stop

Baby chewing on teether
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Any mom who breastfed while her child was teething can tell you that the pearly whites popping through a baby's gums may be tiny and cute, but they can hurt a tender nipple if he decides to chomp down while nursing. What's more, an infant who's teething can be cranky and want to nurse more often than usual for comfort. Or his gums may be so swollen he doesn't want to nurse.

Breastfeeding a baby whose teeth are starting to sprout can be a challenge, but it's not an insurmountable one.

Don't be tempted to wean your baby because his teeth are coming in.

There are other ways to get through this phase without leaving your nipples in shreds or stopping an activity that nourishes your baby and allows you to continue to bond.

Signs a Baby Is Teething

Some little ones begin to have symptoms of teething before there's any real sign of a tooth. This usually begins somewhere between 4 and 7 months. Some common signs a baby is about to teeth include:

  • Fussing
  • Crying
  • Drooling
  • Chewing on toys or hands
  • A low-grade fever

If your baby has a temperature of over 101 F, call the doctor. A fever that high is more likely to be a sign he's getting sick.

Take a look inside your baby's mouth to see if his gums look red or swollen. That's a sure sign that a tooth is right under the surface and nearly ready to emerge. And finally, keep in mind there are babies who aren't bothered a bit when their teeth start coming in. That's nothing to worry about—in fact, it would be lucky for your child and for you.

Also, read about Epstein Pearls in a baby's mouth.

7 Tips for Breastfeeding a Baby Who's Teething

  1. Give him something to gnaw on before and after feedings. A baby teether or ring, or a cold, wet washcloth can help relieve your little one's sore gums.
  2. Massage your baby's gums with a clean finger before he latches on.
  3. Ask your child's doctor if you can give your baby an age-appropriate dose of Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen) a half hour before feedings. If he isn't hurting he's less likely to chomp down.
  4. Change breastfeeding positions if your nipples become sore and check that your baby is latching on correctly.
  5. If your baby refuses to nurse, continue to offer your breast but don't try to force him. In the meantime, pump your breast milk to keep up your milk supply. If your baby is willing to take your expressed milk, you can give it to him from a bottle or cup.
  6. Do not use numbing remedies on your baby's gums without talking to your doctor first. These can affect your baby's mouth and his ability to nurse.
  7. Call a lactation consultant or breastfeeding group if you need more support or information.
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Article Sources
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  1. South M. On teething symptoms. BMJ. 2003;326(7383):282. doi:10.1136/bmj.326.7383.282/a

  2. Jones M. Teething in children and the alleviation of symptoms. J Fam Health Care. 2002;12(1):12-3.

  3. Memarpour M, Soltanimehr E, Eskandarian T. Signs and symptoms associated with primary tooth eruption: a clinical trial of nonpharmacological remedies. BMC Oral Health. 2015;15:88. doi:10.1186/s12903-015-0070-2

  4. Barbi E, Marzuillo P, Neri E, Naviglio S, Krauss BS. Fever in Children: Pearls and Pitfalls. Children (Basel). 2017;4(9) doi:10.3390/children4090081

  5. Patel S, Patel S. The Effectiveness of Lactation Consultants and Lactation Counselors on Breastfeeding Outcomes. J Hum Lact. 2016;32(3):530-41. doi:10.1177/0890334415618668

Additional Reading
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. Your Baby's First Year Third Edition. Bantam Books. New York. 2010.