Breastfeeding: Tips on Biting

November 22, 2011

As a baby begins teething, concerns about biting can grow stronger among breastfeeding mothers. However, many mothers are surprised to hear that it is physically impossible for a baby to breastfeed and bite at the same time. So, in order to stop biting, you should understand what’s going on with your little one that might be causing the issue.

Is your baby bored?

If your baby is no longer hungry or interested in breastfeeding, he or she may begin to bite out of boredom. Also, if you notice tension in your baby’s jaw, he or she may momentarily be losing interest and begin biting. Be sure to look for signs your baby may be losing interest and take your baby away from the breast before he or she bites. Keep your finger ready to break the suction soon as your baby’s rhythmic suckling stops.

Is your baby distracted?

If your baby is twirling, rolling or pushing against you while breastfeeding, he or she may be distracted. When this happens, it’s best to hold off on nursing and wait until he or she shows signs of hunger and is ready to eat. Try taking your little one into a quiet room and just relax – enjoy some extra cuddle time with your babe. Once your little one is calm and relaxed, you may begin to notice hunger signs.  Now is the time to begin breastfeeding.

Is your baby teething?

Teething typically begins around 6 months of age. If you notice your baby biting during this time, he or she is probably more interested in relieving pain than breastfeeding. Try giving your baby a teething toy or breast milk popsicle to treat the discomfort.  Anytime your teething baby bites thereafter, calmly say, “no biting” and remove him or her from the breast. Eventually, your little one will begin to learn that biting interferes with their desire to breastfeed.

Is your baby craving attention?

Focus on your baby while breastfeeding. Older babies tend to demand significant attention and may bite if they don’t feel they’re getting enough. So, try to keep eye contact and engage with your baby while breastfeeding.

Is your baby overwhelmed by the milk flow?

Some babies bite if a mother’s milk flow is too strong. Try leaning back while feeding and place your baby in a more upright feeding position. Avoid pressing your baby’s head into your breast, because this allows him or her to take a break to breathe if necessary.

It’s also important to ensure that your baby has a proper latch. While nursing, your baby’s mouth should be wide open and their tongue should cover their bottom teeth.

Did you experience biting while breastfeeding? Please share any additional tips in the comments below.

24 thoughts on “Breastfeeding: Tips on Biting

  1. I just let myself react normally when she but me–a jump and a squeal (but controlled the impulse to laugh). She didn’t like my reaction so she stopped.

    • Hi Krystal – It’s a great way to relieve you little one’s teething discomfort while also providing breast milk. If you try it, let us know what you think.

    • I use frozen milk and place it into a mesh feeder. Also I typically only would use them in a highchair to control messiness of it all.

      I say “no bite” sternly. It didn’t want to make me laugh and I wanted DD to take me seriously. She cried, I cuddled and then allow her to go right back nursing.

    • Get a bottle cap, I use Gerber because they are small and neat. Fill it with freshly express milk and put one of your small pacifier in the cap and place it in the freezer in a container. I do about 4 at a time. When they are frozen place the caps in a bath of water to defrost slightly, to remove from the cap (do not melt). Then I place the frozen popsicle with the pacifier attach in one of the Medela freezer bag and put it back in the freezer for future use. I also date them like regular frozen breastmilk. It’s also great during the summertime when your little one is hot and thirsty.

  2. I just want to say to moms who are nervous about this before it begins- Don’t give up nursing, it may not be a big deal with you and your little one. Try the tips above. Most importantly, don’t laugh or they may do it again.

  3. I have chosen not to say no. I watch for signs that he may bite and pull my nipple out. I have heard babies can be scared if you tell them no and not want to feed at the breast. Do whatever works for you and your little one. Your mommy you know best!

  4. You might also want to add “Cold/Congestion” to the list of possible reasons for biting. My little one went through a period of biting me when he had a bad cold and had a hard time breathing through his nose. He would stop nursing to breath through his mouth and when he did that, he would bite me. This lasted throughout the phase of the cold, but thankfully he has stopped now that his cold is gone.

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