Teeth and breastfeeding sound like a recipe for disaster, but it doesn't mean you have to start weaning your little one. Whether your baby is teething or you're just scared that those teeth will get to chomping in the middle of a nursing session, knowing the tiny thing that will stop your baby from biting when breastfeeding can make you a lot more relaxed. I mean, teething is hard enough with the whole no-sleep thing and your baby in drooling, screaming pain — do you really have to deal with teeth marks on your breast, too?
Nope. And I promise, you don't have to do anything extensive either. I appreciate parenting advice that promises to fix my issues with just "one tiny thing," but I hate when that one tiny thing turns out to be some ultra-expensive product, some ridiculous notion like "just devote every single moment to your baby and pass up on sleep for three days," or a guarantee that it will work only "if you really want it to." Talk about mom guilt.
But when it comes to keeping your baby from biting while breastfeeding, there is one tiny thing you can do — remove your baby from the breast when they are no longer nursing.
I know, how is that supposed to help, right? Here's the thing. According to Kelly Mom, it is impossible for your baby to bite you while they are actually breastfeeding. La Leche League International agreed and noted that if your baby is properly latched on and swallowing breast milk, there is no way they are able to bite your breast. It's just not physically possible. In order for your baby to bite you, they would have to stop sucking.
Which is when you remove them from your breast.
Dr. William Sears told Parenting that biting often happens at the end of a nursing session, when your baby is no longer fully latched, when they aren't nursing, and when they are either bored, teething, or wanting attention. They may bite down to get you to interact with them, as a sign of affection, or to relieve the pressure of their teeth pushing through their gums. But either way, it's not happening while they're nursing, so don't feel like you're ruining a breastfeeding session — they aren't biting instead of eating.
Both La Leche League International and Kelly Mom suggested watching your baby's jaw. If it tenses up as if they are ready to bite, take your baby away from the breast. If it's before a nursing session, give your little one something to chew on for a few moments before offering the breast again and make sure they have a deep enough latch so their tongue isn't in front and able to pull your nipple in to bite.
Of course, there are plenty of other things you can do to help your baby stop biting. La Leche League International suggested praising them when they latch without biting, nursing in a dark room to avoid distractions, and offering your finger or knuckle as a teething toy when they bite after a nursing session. But the important thing to remember is that your baby can't bite you while they are breastfeeding, so don't think it has to signal the end of your breastfeeding journey. Let them nurse and when they are done, watch for signs that they are going to bite, and simply remove them from the breast. (And then maybe give them a teething ring so they really understand that your boobs aren't for biting. Because ow.)