The majority of babies bite at one time or another. It's not fun, and it's a habit you definitely want to break early. But, it's even worse when the baby is injuring the human vessel that provides his meals – also known as, Mommy. Not only is it painful while it's happening, but when your baby bites your nipple, it can make it very uncomfortable to nurse him at his next feeding. As a nursing mom, it's important to learn how to keep your baby from biting while breastfeeding.
Babies will bite for many reasons. According to WebMD, they use biting as a way to explore the world, to elicit a reaction, to get attention, or simple because they are bored and frustrated. But the majority of babies bite when they are teething and in pain, as the site further explained. Because of this, several Etsy shops and baby stores now carry teething and nursing necklaces that moms can wear. They are designed to keep a baby entertained while nursing, and to provide them with a handy teething ring when they need some relief.
If your breastfed baby is beginning to gnaw, here are some ways to keep him from biting you while you breastfeed.
1. Control Your Reaction
You may want to scream in pain when your baby bites, but according to a Parenting interview with Dr. Sears, this kind of reaction can startle baby, which may lead to a "nursing strike." This is when your baby refuses to nurse for a couple of days. Other babies may think your yelling it’s so funny that they continue to bite in order to get the same reaction according to Kelly Mom.
2. Stop The Nursing Session
Kelly Mom noted that stopping the nursing session is the most effective way to teach baby that nursing and biting do not go together. The Parenting interview with Dr. Sears echoed the sentiment, recommending you immediately take him off the breast and put him down when he baby bites. This is not a form a punishment, but a way for you body language to convey that biting means an end to the nursing. Most babies can learn this association by the time they are nine months old, which is usually the time teeth start coming in.
3. Bring Baby Closer To The Breast
If your baby bites and won't let go, Kelly Mom suggested pulling baby toward you, very close to your breast. Because this will make it a little hard to breathe, your baby should let go in order to open her mouth more to breathe. The Dr. Sears interview also noted that most babies will quickly learn that biting leads to this reaction and will likely stop. You can also place your finger between baby’s gums so you can pull your breast away without further injury.
4. Give The Baby A Teething Ring
Sometimes babies bite because they are teething and it alleviates their gums. La Leche League International (LLLI) recommended taking the baby off of the breast, offering the baby a teething ring, and saying, "Mommy is not for biting. You can bite this." You can also start by offering your baby a cold teething ring prior to nursing.
5. Learn The Cues That Lead To Biting
According to Dr. Sears some babies bite toward the end of a nursing cycle when they've gotten enough milk and just want to play around by gnawing on your nipple. You can anticipate this behavior by taking the baby off of the breast as soon as their sucking slows or stops. Bored or distracted babies, or babies that aren't hungry may also bite. LLLI suggested taking your baby to a dark quiet room to nurse or just choosing a new activity until they are ready to eat again.