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. my little girl 8 months old has just started biting and then laughing at it. and then when i sternly tell her no biting it just makes her laugh even more….what do i do now?

  2. My year old son bites like crazy. Most of the time it’s at the beginning of a feeding. I think it’s because he either is not hungry or his top gums/teeth hurt (6 on the top @ once). Hopefully his discomfort ends soon so my discomfort ends soon.

  3. My baby is 5 months old and has a tooth it started popping through at 4 months. She bites constantly mainly when she is pulling off she bites while taking herself off! I’ve tried everything you have mention nothing has helped she either goes right back to what she was doing or she laughs. I do believe 4 and 5 month olds are a little too young to understand the word “NO”.

  4. My 8 1/2 month old just got both bottom teeth at the same time and today decided to test them out on me. When I scolded her she cried and wouldn’t eat. So she went 6 hours without nursing, she normally eats ever 4 hours. She did finally nurse for her bedtime feeding. In between exhaustion and hunger, she forgot about her new teeth. Hopefully, we will have a better day tomorrow.

  5. I’m surprised at how much two tiny teeth can hurt! It’s hard to calmly say no biting when it’s so shocking!

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