Help a Mama Out: Dealing with the Biting Breastfeeder

 

Oh, that sweet infant gummy smile!  So serene.... so innocent.... so adorable.  But all toothless mouths must come to an end and teething starts another fun developmental stage for your little one.  Teething can also stir up some anxiety in the breastfeeding mama, which we are hoping to aleviate today.

Will my baby bite me?  

Do I have to stop breastfeeding?  

Most moms have felt a clamp down on their nipples from their teething babes once or twice, but it doesn’t mean that your breastfeeding relationship has to come to an end.  No need for those new teeth to be a deal-breaker!

We turned to the wise breastfeeding mamas on Facebook to offer some tips for dealing with a biting breastfeeder.  As always, your advice was amazing.  Here is what you had to say.

 

Top Tips for a Dealing with a Biting Breastfeeder

Stacy: Remember that your baby isn't malicious and isn't trying to hurt you. If baby bites at the beginning of a nursing session, try giving him/her something cold/hard to chew on beforehand. If it's at the end, pay close attention and break their latch as soon as they finish eating but before they are tempted to play with the new sensation of using their teeth.

Amber: Remember, it’s just a phase!

Michelle: I found that using a nursing necklace was really helpful.  Instead of pulling back on my nipple when he distracted, he would play with the nursing necklace while breastfeeding and focus on feeding.  I found that he mostly bit down when he was distracted.

Liz: Ugh. Cry? I do the "don't bite. That hurts." And set P on the ground for a few minutes. Then nurse again.

Katie Jo: What ultimately worked for me was to pay close attention and learn to recognize when he was finished eating. Then I would have to quickly unlatch him with my finger before he started to play/explore what he could do with his teeth. If I didn't catch that moment quickly enough, he would bite down the instant he sensed I was about to unlatch him, and my nipple turned into a rubber band chew toy for him. Sometimes he would bite my finger instead. I tried pressing him into my breast and telling him ouch in an upset voice, but he just laughed every time.

Julie: I bought my daughter an amber necklace to help relieve some of the teething pain she was feeling.  Less teething pain = less biting while breastfeeding.  I also wore one around my neck as well.

 

 

Jen: I tell P, "ouch, that hurts mommy." She stops biting/nursing and looks at me with concern. I let her know it hurts and to be gentle. Sometimes it takes a few reminders, other times she will stop.

Stephanie: If your child will take a cold teether, try offering that before or after a nursing session.

Tamara: Be patient, they may be in pain from teething and doing their best to find relief.

Jennifer: Keep your finger close by their mouth so if they go to bite, you can stick your finger in the side quickly to get them to unlatch!

Erin: I loved the Camilia teething liquid to help with teething pain.  I would use this a couple of times during the day when my baby was really teething badly and I thought it really cut down on the biting while breastfeeding.

 

 

Kat: My kids didn't start that nonsense until they were 10 and 8 months old respectively. So every time they bit, I would quickly unlatch them and set them down. I would say "no biting Mama" and ignore them for a minute or 2. My daughter figured it out after a couple of days, and my son took a week. I tried a couple of times to do that thing where you push their nose into your boob to make them open their mouth but it's so counterintuitive! The first instinct is "get it off me!"

Kim: My 9.5 month daughter got her first teeth at 4 months 1 week. She usually bit me when she was done eating or not hungry. I would tell her no biting and take her off my boob. I would make sure when she was done eating to immediately unlatch her or that's when the biting would begin. I could tell when she was about to bite. Now she is biting my shoulder.

Don't miss our article about why babies bite while breastfeeding and a few more tips and tricks to stop it from happening: Breastfeeding a Teething (or Toothy) Baby

Also, check out our Boob Group podcast episodes where we discuss biting babies and toddlers:

Breastfeeding A to Z: Sore Nipples and Biting

Breastfeeding Toddlers: Frequency, Biting, and Staying Motivated

 

What tips do YOU have for dealing with a biting breastfeeder?