I am going to be frank here – teething is awful. For you, for your babe, and for anyone else in your household.
I have already touched base on the joys of teething in an earlier post but with the sweet little turd cutting his 4th tooth in what seems like only a few short weeks, I feel it is now the time for me to impart what little wisdom I have on the subject.
***Update as of April – the little monster is now cutting his 6th tooth. He continues to bite me on a regular basis and it is super delightful (nope).
***Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or sign up for a service through one of these links, I may receive a small commission towards making my dream of staying home full time with my son a reality at no extra cost to you. Every opinion expressed through this post is my own and I genuinely believe in each item listed and they are used regularly in my home. I would never endorse or recommend something I have not used myself. You can see my full disclosure policy here.
If you don’t already know, when babies cut teeth what they are actually doing is growing razor blades. Little, tiny, adorably cute razor blade teeth that they will use to bite everything.
and I mean everything.
If your child is able to get their mouth around it – they will bite down on it.
My child is a little zombie who regularly tries to eat my face. This little quirk started to happen before he actually cut his first tooth, but I didn’t mind it so much then. It was sort of like being gummed by a tiny, toothless, Benjamin Button. Two bottom choppers later and here I am, regularly finding the smallest of scabs under my chin. Not to mention the delightful feeling of him grabbing two handfuls of hair (or my ears) to pull himself close enough to get a good solid bite in.
And if the face biting wasn’t enough discomfort there is the oh so delightful sensation of having my nipples carefully pinched between those adorably cute, razor-sharp, vise like teeth.
That’s right, I said:
In a vise…
Between razor blades.
I can tell you from first hand experience that when your child decides to bite down on your nipple during a feed, it is unlike any other kind of pain you may have felt. Your darling babe cradled sweetly in your arms looking up at you – with what can only be described as a smile that the devil himself would be proud of – suddenly bites down and refuses to let go. You will swear to the moon and back that the sweet little angel knows exactly what they are doing.
And if your little one is anything like mine, an evil little giggle isn’t usually all that far behind.
When I had originally published this post I hadn’t fully experienced the exact damage my son would do to my nipples. In the past few weeks he has become braver and biting more often – during almost every single feed – to the point where I have not been able to offer him my breast – aside from in the middle of the night – without him chomping down for dear life.
When I say chomping down – I mean chomping down. He has broken skin to the point where my nipples now look as if they have gone through a meat tenderizer. I have woken up to blood soaked nipple pads and have pumped bright pink milk because of the damage he has done. Even now, as my milk is coming in signaling it is time to pump yet again, I can feel how tender my left nipple is – even if it has been 2 days since he last bit down.
But I am determined to nurse until my son is at least a year old. If that means we go exclusively to bottle feeding him until that time then to give my nipples a much-needed break then that is what I will do.
Since it seems as though I have become my baby’s own personal teething toy, I have found myself scouring the internet desperately searching for any possible tips and tricks to help ease the pain of teething.
First of all, I need to say that Kelly Mom is a fantastic resource. I can’t begin to tell you how often I have referenced this particular site when faced with some sort of parenting anything that I need help with. Currently this particular link has been my absolute go to resource for my childs new-found love of biting his mama (and everything else).
One of the things I love about this resource is that it often includes tips and tricks from other mama’s. The first tip that really stuck out for me, mostly because we have seen first hand the difference in helping ease your child’s pain and discomfort makes in the lives of both you and baby, was to offer your child pain medication such as Infants Tylenol or Infants Advil a half hour before feeding.
Whenever my babe is in excruciating pain – I medicate him. When using both products you can overlap doses (one is a 4-6 hour the other is a 6-8 hour) whenever needed. We have found that we end up using much less medicine when using both pain relieving methods than if we were to only use one. He feels better, I feel better, and the chance of us getting any sleep increases greatly. I don’t know if you knew this but teething babes don’t often sleep all that well – they don’t eat all that well either, so of course it made sense to me that medicating before a feed might help curb that incredibly painful (for me) biting impulse.
***Note: I am not a doctor, but I always speak with my doctor before giving my little one any medicine. I recommend that you also do the same because every child can react differently. Just because it worked for my kid, doesn’t mean it is going to work for yours – but it certainly is worth looking into.
If you aren’t into medicating your kid (and even if you are) there are a number of other options our there to help ease your child’s pain and help curb that biting impulse. According to the Kelly Mom article, whenever your child tries to bite you it is a good idea to offer them something else to bite instead – such as a teething toy. We have tried everything from the old school Teething Ring that you can put in the fridge * please don’t put them in the freezer, your little babes hands can’t handle that cold for too long * to overly expensive toys in the shapes of vegetables and moustaches.
Seriously, I was so surprised by just how many teething toy options there were and when one didn’t work we just moved onto the next.
These are our favorite toys:
My goodness is Sophie a hit.
And before you start telling me all about how you read an article stating that she was full of mould and other terrible whatnots – any toy that has a hole in it and spends time in a moist (ewwwww) environment (ie, your child’s mouth or the tub) has the potential to end up mouldy. You know what fixes that? Washing your toys regularly and drying them properly.
End of story.
Want to know what Sophie fixed? The pain my kid was feeling when he was cutting his second tooth (and his third, and his fourth). Okay, maybe not fixed but she definitely helped. I know that Sophie is a little on the pricey side, but there is a reason why so many people swear by this little squeaky giraffe – it’s because their babes like it!
***On a side note, we also picked up a beautiful teething pacifier clip from West Coast Beads (a local Okanagan Company that we love) and attached Sophie to the clip instead of a pacifier. This was so helpful when the little one decided that his new favorite game was dropping everything on the floor.
So with this one I did have to help my little dude figure out how to make it vibrate, which basically meant I held it in his mouth and applied enough pressure to make it vibrate while he alternated chewing on the toy and my fingers. That being said, he really likes this toy – especially because it was a monkey on a banana. The vibrating counter pressure seemed to be enough to distract him from the discomfort he was feeling (and in turn from biting me). I do have to say that he would get frustrated when he “chewed” on the toy and it didn’t vibrate for him without my help. But the way I see it, holding the toy in his mouth and easing the awful feeling of growing teeth for a little while is a far better option than letting him scream in pain (or letting him use me as the teething toy alternative).
And last but not least….
A Cold Cloth
Seriously, the kid loves to chew on a cold cloth. All we do is take a soft cloth, get it damp, put it in a freezer bag and stick in the freezer for a few minutes. When it comes out he absolutely loves to chew on it. I think it is a combination of the cold feeling and slight crunchiness of the cloth that keeps him happy. Honestly, I have no idea why it works but I am certainly not going to complain.
Since we have covered some ideas on how to help ease your childs pain, I think it is only fair to talk about a few options to help ease mama’s pain – especially if you are lucky enough to experience a similar meat tenderizing type bite from you babe.
First of all, there are a number of pain relieving medicines that are compatible with breastfeeding – such as Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen. Please take them as needed. Your child needs you to be okay. If feeding becomes stressful for you it is going to become more stressful for you babe and that will only ensure more pain and discomfort for both you and your little one.
If your child has broken skin and caused some (major) damage there are a number of things you can do to speed up the healing process and help ease some discomfort.
- Rinse with a Saline Solution. It might sound painful but it really shouldn’t be. If you want to make your own, please use this reference to ensure you get the right mixture .
- Use a really great Lanolin nipple cream like Lansinoh HPA Lanolin 40g
- Use and antibacterial treatment such as Polysporin to help speed up the healing promise.
- A good, old fashioned, cold compress. I hated the idea of putting a cold compress on my boob, but my gosh did it feel amazing.
And if those tips aren’t enough to help ease mama’s discomfort what you need is…
A big ol’ glass of “mommy juice”.
No, I don’t mean give your baby booze. What I mean is for you to take a minute and have some sort of adult beverage. Whether it is wine, or beer, or whatever ever it might be that tickles your fancy, just give yourself the opportunity to have a glass of it. Dealing with teething babies is hard. They are even harder to deal with when you are frustrated. Plus, babies catch on pretty quickly to the mood that we are in, so the more frustrated we get, the more frustrated they get.
Keep in mind that every baby (and mom) is different, and what works for one may not work for another. This is what worked, and continues to work, for us. I would love to hear what other teething tips or tricks are out there. Is there anything that you or someone you know swears by?