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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Breastfeeding a baby with teeth

I heard something on the radio the other day that disturbed me a bit.  The DJ was appalled by anyone breastfeeding a baby who had teeth, several callers also agreed.

I have breastfed 3 babies until they had teeth, and actually breastfed them longer with teeth than without.  I thought I would share a little bit of my personal experience breastfeeding a baby with teeth....

Now, most babies get teeth around 6 months old, but some can get them sooner, even as soon as 3 months, and some babies are even born with teeth (although rare)!  The current recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months mean that a lot of women are breastfeeding babies with teeth.  I will admit that at first I was a little scared of getting bit.  The good thing is that babies hold their tongue over their lower teeth while nursing, so the lowers you will probably never feel.

I have been bitten a few times, but your baby will learn very quick that if he wants to nurse, biting is not allowed.  I do not think it is intentional as much as babies tend to chew on things while they are teething.  I was also surprised that when my babies got their top teeth, they didn't seem to affect nursing and I couldn't feel them either.  Every once in a while (mostly while on my period, I think) if my breasts were a little tender I could feel the top teeth, but I wasn't in pain from it, just noticeable that they were there.

In the US our culture is not very supportive of breastfeeding in general, and definitely not supportive of breastfeeding toddlers.  But the AAP guidelines do recommend breastfeeding for 12 months.  The WHO recommends breastfeeding for at LEAST 2 years.  Wow, 2 years as a minimum!!!  Did you know that the average age of weaning around the world is 4 years old?  Americans have a very narrow mind when it comes to breastfeeding, perhaps we should take a look around the world.

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