Breastfeeding a toddler with teeth

[deleted account] ( 7 moms have responded )

A relative of mine is breastfeeding her first. Her daughter is 13 months and now has four teeth. She doesn't seem to be latching on properly and the mum finds feeding painful. It's not so much biting as the way the baby feeds. She has been to the breastfeeding clinic and the nurse said her daughter is too far down on the nipple and not taking enough milk into her mouth before swallowing. Is there any advice on how to get her daughter to change her the way she latches on? Is it too late to change at 13 months? The mum wants to continue feeding but is finding it quite painful.


Sophia - posted on 03/26/2012




When toddler's are teething some times they adjust their latch because their mouth's hurt. When mine would do this I would take them off the breast & tell them to say "Ah" and stick out their tongue (like at the doctors office) then pop them back on. I would not make a big deal out of it, but generally it did the trick. Sometimes they would revert back to the other latch (again because teething hurts and they are trying to be more comfortable), I would just pop them off and have them try again. The painful initial latch was always the first sign to me that my kids were teething & usually would go away when the teething stopped. I will send some prayer her way.

Lori - posted on 03/24/2012




Check out Kelly Mom's suggestions about this. The page starts with biting, but also addresses teeth scraping and poor latch.

Many times as babies get bigger it's harder to hold them up high enough to not pull down on the breast. An extra pillow under mom's arm or under baby can help immensely. And if it hurts when baby is latched on, unlatch baby and have baby latch on again.

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Dena - posted on 03/29/2012




It definitely isn't too late. She was latching on properly not long ago so I'm sure it can be corrected. I'm not sure where you're from, but we have the La Leche League that helps nursing moms. Try looking it up online. I live in the mid-US. For now, just have her unlatch her daughter and try re-latching. If she does end up biting, I would set her down on the floor and walk away after telling her no. My daughter only did it once before learning not to, but it took a friends' daughter around 3-4 times, but she still learned quickly. Hopefully your relative can get it corrected.

Aleks - posted on 03/28/2012




I found that breastfeeding became painful when my daughter was teething. For some reason the latch changed for a short while (during the teething period) and it was a bit painful to latch her on initially. This should pass within a week or two, provided there was no or rare pain in the previous 13mths up until now.

I did let my daughter know that she was hurting me... and she did make attempts at being more gentle or was appologetic (it was soooo adorable... but a bit sad, the poor darling) and tried to be soothing by giving me a kiss ♥

Amy - posted on 03/26/2012




I would simply echo what others have said. When my daughter was around 13 months, I had decided in my head that I was not starving my child if I said no to a feed simply because she wouldn't latch without hurting me after 2 or 3 attempts. She had other options, and she could learn enough to know that I would allow a good latch and not a bad one, and what the difference was. You have been lactating long enough that your milk will not dry up at the first sign of a skipped feed, so don't stress about it. Simply force a re-latch if she hurts you, and give it a break of a few hours - even a day wouldn't affect your supply if that's what you feel is needed - if it's not working at that point.

And no, this didn't lead to weaning before we were mutually ready. She stopped feeding at 2 years and 7-8 months, when I was into the second trimester of pregnancy. (I think her reasoning had more to do with my shrinking lap! (could've been changing taste/quantity of milk, too))

[deleted account]

Thanks to both of you, especially for the Kellymom link. I will pass all this on to my relative. :-)

Jessica - posted on 03/24/2012




I don't have an answer to your question, but I wanted to say that my daughter has had 8 teeth since she was about 8 months old. Sometimes it definately hurts when she isn't latched on properly and she leaves toothmarks on my nipples. I usually just take her off, sit her up as if for a burp and then adjust a bit and try putting her back on. Luckily that works for us. The only suggestion I'd have would be to still try to angle the nipple toward the roof of her mouth just as she's getting on, like you would for a seems to help the latch a bit for us. It's great she wants to keep nursing past a year. That's my plan too. :)

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