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Thread: Won't open his mouth

  1. #1

    Default Won't open his mouth

    I have a friend who just had her baby, and her baby won't open his mouth to eat! Her nipples are getting pretty sore, and I'd love to pass on a list of things for her to try. Any ideas? Tips? Websites to take a look at?

    p.s. she feeds based on feeding cues, and he roots like crazy then clams up. Hope that helps!
    Last edited by @llli*fairydust159; November 18th, 2008 at 01:28 AM. Reason: accidentally posted early, hadn't finished typing

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007

    Default Re: Won't open his mouth

    Is he not opening his mouth at all, or just not wide enough? Is he getting too hungry before she offers the breast? How old is he?

    I'm no expert, but if this is a newborn baby who is not managing to feed at all, your friend should call a doctor or lactation consultant. I did some research for you and from what I read, sometimes a newborn baby's jaw can be misaligned from the birth and this can interfere with mouth opening.

    I also read that showing him what you want him to do can be helpful, like opening your mouth really wide and making aaaaww sounds. Apparently even tiny babies tend to copy.

    My son didn't use to open his mouth wide enough and a lactation consultant showed me the trick of stroking downward on the tip of his nose with my nipple. This made him instinctively open his mouth, but I had to put the nipple in quick before he closed it again. Another tip I've read is to gently push down on the baby's lower lip or stroke the lower lip with a clean index finger.

    I copied the following tips off allexperts.com:

    Here are a few ideas to help a mom who is struggling with a baby not opening wide enough:

    1. For any latch on problems, I definitely recommend a lactation consult. You can go to ilca.com for a list of consultants in your area.

    2. I usually recommend a football hold for any mother that is having latch on problems. You can usually get a baby positioned better and help their mouths to open a little wider. Simply sit straight up in a chair with good support. Place a pillow behind the back vertically so it does not cross the shoulder. Place two pillows to the side that you will be nursing on (stack them like pancakes). Place the baby's back on the pillows and slide baby back so that the mouth is lined up with the nipple. Turn baby slightly into you.

    3. When latching a baby on, hold the breast like a sandwich keeping the fingers well behind the aerola. Tip your nipple up a little. Try to latch the baby asymmetrically. To do this, hold baby on the back of the neck with your hand. When the baby opens the mouth wide, tilt the head back and make sure the bottom lip touches the breast FIRST well below the nipple and then have the top lip touch the breast LAST above the nipple. The chin should be buried into the breast with the nose barely touching the breast. When latching a baby, you need to do it in a quick motion to make sure that the baby can get the biggest mouth full. You can go to breastfeedingonline.com and search under asymmetrical latch video. It will give you a demonstration on how to do it.

    J from Aug '06 to Nov '08 and S from April 2009

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008

    Default Re: Won't open his mouth

    Definitely need an LC (preferably board-certified) right away. If there are any doubts about him not being able to transfer milk properly, pumping will be key to bring in supply and also provide something to supplement should supplements be needed.

    Cranio-sacral therapy done by an osteopath or pediatric chiropractor can be helpful. Make sure the practitioner has experience with infants.

    Check also for tongue-tie especially the less common posterior or type 3 and 4. Sometimes anatomical issues like that present together with a tight jaw, high pallette, etc.

    . We are dealing with this issue as well. It is so important to get help right away. My DS showed signs of dehydration and my supply tanked b/c of similar issues. Best wishes!
    2001 2004 2008

  4. #4

    Default Re: Won't open his mouth

    I had a similar problem with my daughter. She would latch on perfectly on my left breast but not the right one which started to become REALLY sore. The right breast and aerola were always bigger than the left one and I think that's why she didn't open her mouth properly on that one. My health nurse told me to put my finger on her lower lip after she had latched on and gently push it down which makes the mouth open wider and also makes sure that the lower lip isn't pointing inwards. After doing this for few days she learned to latch on properly herself.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Won't open his mouth

    I agree seeing a lactation consultant could be very helpful for your friend.

    If she doesn't already use the football hold or cross-cradle hold, an LC or LLL Leader could help her learn how to use them, and they both help mom have a little more control over how the baby is latching on. In both holds the baby's head is supported and guided by the mom's hand (rather than her forearm and elbow as in a typical cradle hold), which provides extra control.

    Pictures of both holds can be seen in this article, but whenever there are sore nipples and latch issues seeing a LLL Leader or LC in person is invaluable.

    You can find the LLL Leaders nearest your friend here.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Won't open his mouth

    Thank you all so much! You've given me some great advice to pass on.

    This is actually her third child, but she had no problems breastfeeding the first two. Her little boy (the one she's having problems with) seems to be getting enough to eat (plenty of wet diapers) but won't open his mouth to eat. He is capable of opening his mouth, but clams up when eating. He's also a week old currently. I hope that answers the questions you all had! If you have anymore tips or advice on getting a baby to open up and latch better let me know!

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