As soon as babies start getting teeth, breastfeeding moms get concerned about their baby biting while breastfeeding.
We understand. Nursing is a wonderful and natural thing. When your baby bites you, though, it may not seem so wonderful.
In fact, some moms even consider weaning to stop the biting! Don’t give up! There are some things that you can do to help your baby learn not to bite you.
Why Baby Biting Happens & What You Can Do:
- Check Your Latch
- Simply Ways to Solve the Problem of Biting & Teething
- How to Prevent Biting in the Future
- What to Do When Your Baby Does Bite
All babies go through a phase of putting everything they can get their hands on in their mouths. That comes with a lot of toothless gumming, and eventually, biting once the first teeth break through the gum. Biting the breast is one thing that many mothers worry about as they watch those first teeth come in, and you never know if your baby will be go through a biting phase at some point. The good news is that there are preventative measures that you can take to limit or even eliminate the biting habit.
When a baby is properly latched to the breast, their tongue should serve as a shield between the breast and the baby’s gums. This blocks early teeth from nicking or biting into the breast, limiting the baby’s opportunities to bite. When latching isn’t an issue, your baby can still bite while you are placing their mouth on your breast or when they are releasing their latch at the end of a feeding. If your baby is biting while actively feeding, you may need to correct their latch and it may not be intentional.
Biting & Teething – Simply Ways to Solve the Problem
When biting becomes a regular problem and it’s not due to improve latching, it’s often related to teething. The pain and irritation of the gums when the teeth are in the process of breaking through the gum is unimaginable to us adults, and it drives all babies to press their gums against hard surfaces for relief. This basically means that they bite, and it explains one reason why everything your baby touches ends up in their mouth at this period of their growth.
The best preventative measure in this case is to give your baby safe tools to relieve the irritation in their gums without involving your breasts. There are many ways to do this, but we recommend the following products, which are all easily ordered online at an affordable price:
- Fruit Feeder Pacifier – Think of this as a diffuser water bottle modified for your teething baby. Fill each pacifier/teether with fruit, vegetables, or breast milk, and allow it to freeze. As your baby soothes those aching gums on the textured exterior, he or she will receive bits of healthy fruit or milk. The flavor should encourage your baby to teethe in the appropriate place.
- Nuby Teethe-eez – We love this freezer-safe teether because it’s easy for babies to hold, each toy comes with a case to keep it clean, and they’re cheap enough that you can stock up to ensure that you always have one frozen and ready to go. We also love the bristles because they’re the perfect texture to relieve sore, aching gums.
- FNSHIP Teether Mitten – This adorable mitten features teething pads across the fingertips and eliminates the endless game of retrieving dropped or thrown teething toys. Simply place the mitten over your baby’s hand and allow them to teethe freely. It isn’t a cold teether to numb the gums, but it is useful for general teething relief.
- Silicone Teether Rings – These colorful rings are thin enough to fit safely into a small baby’s mouth, and they attach easily to your baby’s clothing to prevent dropping and throwing. We love that they are so simple but effective with a variety of textures and patterns for teething pleasure.
- Chew Beads Necklace – We encourage you to shop regularly for chew beads jewelry. These necklaces and bracelets allow you to wear the chew toy for your baby. If you’ve ever had a baby try to teethe on your necklace or watch, you know how necessary chew jewelry is for all parents. Wearing a necklace that your baby can chew is also a great way to keep your baby occupied while you’re having a conversation or try to accomplish something else while holding your little one.
These tools are most effective if you allow your baby to choose on something cold just before feeding. This will numb their gums, lowering the chance that they will need to relieve their gums while feeding. This is easy to do if your baby breastfeeds according to a schedule, but you may have to do some guessing if your baby is an impromptu or on-demand feeder. You can also use Camilia drops if your baby is at least one month old. They’re homeopathic and do not contain preservatives, artificial sweeteners or sugar.
Some professionals believe that biting is normal animal behavior, and humans are animals. This theory states that babies may bite to get your attention or to show affection to a loved one, and that may happen occasionally while you’re trying to feed your baby. Rather than worrying about how you react after a bite occurs, it’s more effective to focus on how you’re feeding your baby and what you can do to prevent the biting from continuing or even starting.
Start by paying attention to your baby’s feeding habits. Is your baby biting at a certain time in the feeding process? If so, you can alter how you handle that segment of each feeding period to alter the behavior. For instance, holding your baby in a different way may change how they latch onto your breast or release at the end of the feeding. Those are two times when an older baby is most likely to try biting, so you can stay on guard and experiment with different ways of handling it.
You will likely find that giving your baby cold chew toys and other teething products throughout the day will ease the biting if not eliminating it entirely. This speaks to the biggest reason that babies bite: those aching gums. If you don’t already have chew toys that can be frozen or natural drops that numb the gums, we recommend that you stock up ASAP. (Some of the teething toys that we feature on this page are so unique and adorable that they make excellent baby shower gifts. Give them to all of your friends to prevent the biting before it starts for them!)
Here are some tips to stop the biting while breastfeeding when it happens:
• ”It Hurts!” It is important to let your baby know that it hurts you when they bite. Saying, “Ouch! Biting hurts Mommy!” is very appropriate. Even very young babies can understand the tone of your voice. Let them know that you are not pleased with them at all.
• End the Session. Unlatch your baby by sliding your finger into the side of his mouth to break the suction. Your first reaction may be to just pull the baby off, but this can cause soreness in your nipples. It is best to break the suction first. Do this immediately if he bites. This lets the baby know that biting ends his feeding time. Do not offer the breast again for at least 15 minutes.
• Baby Time Out. For some babies, not nursing is discouragement enough. For others who might be a little more persistent, you might need to take additional steps. If it keeps happening, end the session and put your baby down for a few minutes. This is like a baby time out. They learn that they don’t get to be near you if they bite.
• Learn The Cues. Babies often bite when they are bored or are frustrated. If a baby is easily distracted, nursing in a quiet room will help minimize distractions. A nursing necklace that is only offered at feeding times can prevent boredom. Pay attention to his cues. If he is getting restless or pulling away, go ahead and take him off and offer the breast again later. If you learn to anticipate it, you can prevent it.
• Teething. Teething is another common reason. Try offering a teething baby one of the toys previously mentioned to chew on before the feeding.
• Correct the Latch. If a baby is latched on correctly, the nipple should be about an inch behind his teeth. If he is actively nursing in a correct position it is physically impossible for him to bite. Many biting incidents occur when the nipple slips out of position and comes back toward the front of the mouth. This happens mostly when a feeding is winding down or the baby is sleepy. When you feel this change in position go ahead and end the feeding.
Just Remember: It is a Phase
Not every baby bites, but biting is a painful and discouraging phase for some. But rest assured, it is just a phase.
Babies can learn that biting is not tolerated and nursing will get back to normal. Hang in there! Don’t quit yet. Try these tips to help your baby learn not to bite, and you can both enjoy this special time of closeness for a while longer.
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