Breastfeeding and Biting
You're totally nailing this breastfeeding thing and then all of a sudden your baby turns into a drooly monster and “ouch!!” they bite you! Gummy bites aren’t as bad, but when those razor-sharp little front teeth appear, it can be very painful. Having nursed 4 babies for over a year each, I know this pain too well! I can feel the pain just thinking about it!
There are many reasons that your baby may bite you while nursing. Younger babies tend to bite when they are having teething pain or if they have a cold or something that may be disturbing their nasal breathing. Older babies sometimes bite out of boredom or if they want your attention. They may also be frustrated if they are not getting the flow of milk that they want and they can also have teething pain. Your approach to the correction method will likely depend on the age of your baby.
Let’s look at some different techniques and ways to let your baby know that it’s not nice to bite mama!
1. Stop the nursing session. This is the first step in stopping biting. Make sure that they have released their bite before you try to remove your nipple or it's going to hurt! You may need to use your finger to help release their alligator jaws. Depending on the reason for the biting, this may mean ending the nursing session right then. If the bite was accidental then wait until you and your baby are ready to start nursing again and then continue. The main thing is that they understand that biting leads to no mama milk. When they make this connection, they should understand the consequences.
2. Tell your baby that it hurts you. Some mom’s make more of an emotional display here and fake cry or even yell out to get your baby’s attention. This could possibly have a negative effect though if your baby is biting for attention or wants to see your reaction. A popular technique is to calmly say, “that hurt’s mommy” and then to remove them from the breast. Wait a few minutes and then if they are interested in continuing to nurse, then praise them for a good latch and being gentle with Mama. If they bite again then remove them from their latch and tell them again that they are hurting you. Wait longer before letting them nurse again the second time.
3. Check their latch and position. If they have a proper latch then they will likely bite their tongue as well when they bite. A good latch can help prevent biting. If your baby has a cold try switching positions to keep them more upright.
4. Watch for active nursing. Sometimes if your baby is full they may possibly bite out of boredom. On the other hand if they are frustrated that they are not getting enough milk, they could bite also. Watch for signs that they are actively drinking and see if there are any biting triggers.
5. Keep them engaged. Your baby may want just your attention while nursing. You can keep them engaged by talking to them, having eye contact and singing to them.
6. Use teethers to help with teething pain. Making sure they have something else to chomp on can help them not bite you! There are so many different types of teething toys on the market! A good go to is the water filled ones that you can freeze! There are many wonderful silicone pacifier teething combos available too!
Whichever method you choose, consistency is key! When they realize that biting means that they don’t get what they want, many babies will stop biting. It's so important to correct these behaviors so that you can continue your nursing journey! Biting does not mean that you need to stop nursing! Stay consistent and the behavior will stop.
If you need a little nursing break and you pump, check out The Baby’s Brew Portable Bottle Warmer! It will warm your breastmilk to the perfect body temperature of 98ºF. Good luck Mama! You’ve got this!
How do I get my baby to stop biting me while nursing?
Consistency is key! A preferred method is to get their attention and say that hurts you and then take them off the breast. When they realize that biting means that they don’t get to nurse, many babies stop biting.
Why is my baby biting while nursing?
There are many reasons that your baby may bite you while nursing. Younger babies tend to bite when they are having teething pain or they have a cold. Older babies sometimes bite out of boredom if they want your attention. They may also be frustrated if they are not getting the flow of milk that they want.
Will my baby stop biting while nursing?
With persistence and corrections, your baby should stop biting. Typically biting is a temporary problem. They may do fine and then do it again at a later time, but continue to correct them and they should stop.
How can I warm breastmilk?
Take the guesswork out of warming your breastmilk by using The Baby’s Brew Portable Bottle Warmer! You don’t need to worry if your breastmilk will get too hot when you can set the temperature to the perfect temp! The Baby’s Brew will hold the temperature for up to 8 hours so you can always warm it a little ahead of time so a bottle is ready at a moment's notice. Or it's just 5-10 minutes to a perfectly warmed bottle!
Written by: Kristen Bickel
Kristen is a mom of 4 and an employee at The Baby’s Brew.