Yeeeoow!! When a baby starts biting during nursing sessions, the breastfeeding experience can quickly turn from peaceful to extremely painful. To discourage biting while breastfeeding, try these five tips from Circle of Moms members.
1. Pause the Nursing Session
One of the most common suggestions from Circle of Moms members is to briefly stop nursing when biting occurs. As Melody C. shares: “My son started biting when he was 7 months and getting teeth. I unlatched him, said ‘ow’, and sat him down away from me. After a couple of minutes if he was still hungry I'd latch him again. He stopped after about 5 times of doing this." Emily S. agrees: “Gently tell him ‘no bite’ and unlatch him. He’ll learn quickly that biting = no milk!”
2. Pay Attention to Timing
“Do you notice that she bites more towards the end of a nursing session?” asks Cassie C. “It may be that she is done eating and is just figuring out what those teeth are for. She is not trying to hurt you but she doesn't know any better.” As Cassie suggests, babies often bite when they are distracted, bored, feeling playful, or teething.
Try paying close attention to whether your child is actively feeding, suggests Meaghan T.: “If your child is actively nursing it is impossible to bite (the tongue covers the bottom teeth). Most babies will pause before biting - pay attention! Have a handy teething toy available to pop in the mouth before the biting begins!"
Or try Julie B.'s advice: “Keep your finger on your breast while she's nursing so you can quickly break suction and remove her if you see her sucking pattern slow down so you know a bite is coming.”
3. Nurse When Baby is Rested
As Maaike K. found, some babies bite when they are tired, so changing your nursing schedule may help eliminate biting behavor: “I have tried everything (I mean EVERYTHING) to make her stop and nothing really worked...This week I figured out she only bites me if I nurse her before putting her down for either nap or night time. Now I only nurse her when she wakes up in the morning and after her afternoon nap, and this goes really really well!”
4. Don’t Pull Away
When biting occurs, your instinct may be to recoil. Instead, many moms suggest pulling your baby in towards your breast to cause the baby to unlatch. As Alicia E. explains: “The baby's nose is brought again the breast just enough to block the nostrils. The baby immediately opens her mouth to breathe. Thus she unlatches.” The unpleasant feeling also discourages babies from biting again.
5. Don’t Yell
It’s hard not to yelp when those little daggers cut into you, but making a big fuss can make the situation worse. As Sara D. cautioned, some babies will be frightened by an extreme reaction: “Screaming can actually scare him enough to cause a nursing strike.” Alternatively, shares Michelle K., a baby may find your response funny and continue biting to watch it happen again: “If you give a reaction he might find it amusing and continue to bite cause he is entertained by that reaction. I used a calm 'No no' in my normal voice.”