Breastfeeding: Toddler's teeth rub nipple

My 12-month-old's teeth rub my nipple when she nurses. It can be quite painful--help!



Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Some toddler's teeth are jagged and very sharp. Check your positioning, improper positioning and attachment (even with an older child) can be the cause of nipple soreness. Your child also may not have a good mouthful of your breast in her mouth. If she did, your nipple would be far back into her mouth and well protected from her teeth. Remember, she should be taking in about one inch of your areola. Maybe she is starting out well-attached, but as nursing progresses, and she gets squirmy, she moves down to where she is basically holding onto your nipple.

Toddlers often are moving all over the place with your nipple in their mouth. Explain to your daughter that she will need to lie still to nurse because it hurts you when she moves around. Keep her hugged into your breast, as you did when positioning her as a newborn. You could also try nursing in different positions so the pressure does not hit in the same place. Try lying down to nurse, maybe even rotating her body so her feet are at your head (if she is still cooperative at 12 months of age!)

Some things to consider when you have nipple pain:

  • Check with you doctor and rule out thrush.
  • Food particles remaining in a toddler's mouth can be irritating and may even cause an allergic reaction with itching, dryness, flakiness of your nipples. Offer your daughter a few sips of water prior to nursing to flush these bits away.
  • Pregnancy can be a cause of late-onset nipple soreness (rule that out as well).


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