Not A Big Deal

Breastfeeding a baby who has teeth? It’s so not a big deal. Here’s why.

Nursing baby sleeping

Have you heard people exclaim, “I’d never nurse a baby who has teeth!” It may sound a little scary … pointing your nipple, which is pretty delicate, at a mouthful of teeny (and pretty sharp) baby teeth, but the reality is that it’s really not a big deal.

Babies get their teeth at a young age

When you think about it, babies can get their first teeth at 4 or 5 months of age. Even the “late” teethers come in at 8 or 10 months. All of these ages are well below the minimum age -- 1 year -- that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends moms breastfeed to, and the World Health Organization recommends at least 2 years of age.

Babies usually don’t bite

Most of the time, the baby is nursing, not chewing on your nipple. Most bites happen accidentally, such as when your baby is snoozing and clamps down when startled, or while slipping off. You will learn to recognize when this is about to happen and can remove your nipple first. When a baby is actively nursing, her tongue is between your nipple and her bottom teeth.

Biting can be nipped in the bud

Some babies do find that biting is funny. It’s probably Mom’s reaction -- a yelp can be pretty amusing if you’re a baby. If your baby does seem to be interested in biting for fun, quick removal from the breast and an unceremonious plop on the floor will hopefully get the message across, especially if you can suppress your scream.

Benefits outweigh the bite

Even if you do suffer a bite or two (or more), the benefits of breastfeeding do outweigh the pain if you’re fully committed to giving your baby the proper nutrition for her first year (or two, or three). I’ve only suffered a bite bad enough to draw blood once with my youngest baby, and while yes, it did feel like I was shot in the chest, and it wasn’t much fun to try to heal,  nursing her was important to me for her health, so I stuck with it -- and we're nearly 3 years strong.

More on breastfeeding

Tips for exclusively breastfeeding
Ten breastfeeding myths you should never fall for
New AAP breastfeeding recommendations


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