Teething occurs when teeth are at the gumline and begin to break through. It can cause swollen, tender, painful, irritated gums. You baby will probably begin teething somewhere between 4 and 7 months of age, but a first tooth can break through earlier or much later. Some babies will get their teeth without any signs of discomfort. For others, teething can be a difficult experience.
Possible Signs of Teething:
- Chewing on toys or hands
- A low grade fever under 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C)
If your baby has a fever over 101 degrees F (38.3 degrees C), notify your doctor. It is unlikely that a high fever is the result of teething, so it would be best if your baby is seen by the pediatrician.
Teething and Breastfeeding
When teething begins, it could pose some nursing challenges. Your baby may want to nurse more frequently for comfort, or her gums may be so swollen and tender that she may refuse to nurse. You may develop sore nipples from the baby using your breast as a teether, and you may worry about biting once the baby's teeth break through.
Things You Can Do
- Give the baby something to chew on before and after feedings. Baby teethers, teething rings and cold, wet washcloths can provide your baby with some relief from irritated gums.
- Massage your baby's gums with your finger before you nurse.
- Ask the pediatrician if you can give your baby acetaminophen or ibuprofen to decrease some of the pain associated with teething.
- Change breastfeeding positions if your nipples become sore.
Many women worry that once the baby gets teeth, the baby will start biting during breastfeeding. While it's true that at some point the baby may try to use your nipples as a teether, most of the time you can nurse through teething without much of a problem. It is not necessary to wean your baby just because he is getting teeth.
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.