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Thread: "Teaching" a 2 yr old to latch properly

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    12

    Question "Teaching" a 2 yr old to latch properly

    I am nearing my wits end with my 2 yr old (32 mos). Somehow over the past while, her latch has become "lazy" and I am finding teeth marks on my nipple at the end of every feed.

    She is tandem nursing with her brother (8 mos old), and we have been dealing with thrush this winter (for about the last 7 mos ...) so the pain I feel could be due to the thrush as much as to the teeth. (It doesn't hurt when the baby nurses, though). I treat the thrush topically with clotrimizole ointment and/or gentian violet when it is really bothersome.

    She received bottles (Playtex Naturalatch nipples) from 15 months until about two weeks ago, when I cut them out, thinking that they might be causing "nipple confusion". She didn't bite consistently until this winter. I'm wondering if her mouth has changed a lot in the last few months, and has suddenly "outgrown" her earlier latch.

    She is trying valiantly to adjust her latch, opening wide, using her tongue, etc, but as soon as she is latched on, she wiggles back to her usual position. She is the kind of child who will stop nursing completely if I correct her too many times, so I pretty much leave her to nurse as she wants to after three or four adjustments. Same thing when I want her to fall asleep - it's rather counterproductive to engage her cognitively when I want her little brain to fall asleep! (On the other hand, she tells me that her dollies are using a good latch when she is nursing them, which is very cute!)

    So my question is - has anyone else faced this and overcome the problem (or did you just persevere and/or wean?) If so, how did you instruct your child to nurse better??

    Thank you for your help,
    Liz

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: "Teaching" a 2 yr old to latch properly

    My 2 1/2 year old used to leave teeth marks on me too (at every nursing.) At the time, I believed it to be how her mouth was growing. It always looked painful to see her two front teeth impressed into my nipple, but it rarely was painful enough that I needed to unlatch her.

    My thoughts are that it might be the thrush that is aggravating things for you and your daughter. I do think that you should try to correct her latch if it becomes uncomfortable for you or if you see that she is sliding off. A good latch is a good thing at any age. She might be frustrated by it, but if you handle it calmly and consistently, she will adjust no worse for wear.

    Perhaps nursing her in a different or in varied positions might help; this way her teeth would not always be irritating the same spot.

    Just another thought, food particles left in her mouth can also cause irritation, rinsing her mouth before a nursing would rule out that possibility.

    Best of luck to you and your little ones.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    1,551

    Default Re: "Teaching" a 2 yr old to latch properly

    Could the thrush be bothering her mouth as well, causing her to change her latch?
    My other thought was to play-act how to nurse during times when you aren't nursing? That way you could practice when she's not sleepy and maybe she'd just need a gentle, quiet reminder when she's actually latched on?
    Hang in there!

    Mary

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    18,063

    Default Re: "Teaching" a 2 yr old to latch properly

    I tell my dd almost 3 you have to be gentle with mi-mi's or you have to stop.
    It normaly works. She is down to just at bedtime and sometimes 2 times a night.
    If you feal like cutting out during the day would help try it and see how she does. I don't nurse my dd during the day unless she is realy hurt or sick. maybe she is ready to wean and will do just fine.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: "Teaching" a 2 yr old to latch properly

    Thanks for the replies. I have also seen a few similar comments in the Tandem Nursing forum (which I only found after posting my post ...).

    Thankfully, I have never seen any sign of thrush in DD's mouth (only in her diaper), and DS's mouth now seems to have been clear for 3-4 weeks (also still in his diaper, though). It could be that (as I read in the Tandem forum) that teeth marks from bigger mouths are normal, and it is just the thrush that is causing me to feel so aggravated. After so many months of applying ointment, I get a bit lazy, which of course causes it to flare up again.

    Perhaps I will concentrate on "mommy care" for a few days (rest, ointment on my nipples, etc), and come back to the latch later. I definitely find that her latch changes once the "immediate supply" of milk has run down (ie it doesn't hurt so much on full breasts). She has always liked to nurse a long time at any nursing session - and has actively resisted any kind of "count down" approach to terminating them. Perhaps I need to find another way to get her to fall asleep at night (or perhaps I just need to curl my toes and deal with it ...).

    Anyway, even knowing that this situation is rather common is quite helpful!
    Liz

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