When Breastfeeding and Teething Collide

Emily Elling

Posted By: Emily Elling

Emily Elling lives downtown Indianapolis with her husband of 10 years and her four unintentionally hilarious children, Piper, 7, Nola, 5, Gage, 2, and baby Paul, born January 2012.

Know what's a whole lot of no fun? When breastfeeding and teething collide. Because you want to know a little secret about me? My nipples are not a chew toys.

Over the past month, Paul has cut his first two little bottom teeth. It's been somewhat of a rough ride, and it’s definitely taken a toll on his typical easy breezy and laid back temperament.  And of course we've been doing our best to alleviate his pain, pulling out every trick in the teething book. Playing with cold spoons, wearing an amber necklace, and investing in some fun chew toys. But you want to know what soothes the pain away the best? Being cradled in my arms, nursing the day (and night) away.

And I'm going to be completely honest here, I've been bit by baby Paul a few times. It's not his fault, and I completely understand. In fact, when I’m sick or in pain, I too want my mommy.

I recently told a group of friends that I was nursing Paul, and that he had recently cut a few teeth. And in an overwhelming majority consensus, they all told me they would never nurse a kid with teeth. That if the baby was old enough to have teeth, it was time to stop nursing, and start "real food".

But friends, I couldn't disagree more. While getting bit isn't my idea of a good time, I completely think it's a short term stumbling block that can quickly and easily be curbed.

What I'm doing to stop the biting:

Before we sit down to nurse, if I know he's having a particularly difficult day with his teeth, I'll offer him a cold teether (spoon or wash cloth) to nom on a few minutes before we start breastfeeding.

Then, If he still bites me, I do my best to not yell (although that's my immediate and natural reaction) but I instead take him off the breast immediately for a few moments. By doing this, I believe that even at his young age, he's learning quickly that if he wants to nurse, he cannot clamp down like that.

I've also noticed that as he gets older, he’s getting more curious and distracted, even while nursing. Our best nursing sessions are in a dim and quiet room (like the nursery), instead of downstairs in the living room where all the exciting action is happening. Almost every time I've gotten bitten, it's because he's preoccupied or excited, tossing and turning his head around to see what one of his siblings are doing.  So I do my best to nursing him in a calm environment, and on an empty belly, so he’s focused on eating and not other things.

But at the end of the day, I completely believe that just because a baby cuts a few teeth, it does not mean breastfeeding has to stop. Biting might be a small stumbling block, but can be overcome with a bit of time and understanding.

10:00am on Thursday October 11
1 comment


2:26pm on Thursday October 11

My youngest got her first teeth at 3 months old! Of course you don't stop when they get teeth!

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