Tips for When Baby Bites at the Breast

January 2, 2014

Most babies begin to show signs of teething sometime between 3 and 7 months, and symptoms range from drooling to fussiness. But even before that first tooth pops up, your little one may start to bite you while feeding at the breast – which can be painful, frustrating, and may even cause you to question whether you’ll continue nursing. Remember to never give up on your worst day, and keep these tips in mind the next time your baby bites.

Is your baby bored?

If your baby is no longer hungry or interested in breastfeeding, they may begin to bite out of boredom. You might notice tension in your baby’s jaw, which can indicate that they’re momentarily losing interest. Be sure to look for other signs that your baby is losing interest and try to be proactive by taking your baby away from the breast before they bite. Keep your finger ready to break the suction as soon as your baby’s rhythmic suckling stops.

Is your baby distracted?

If your baby is rolling or pushing against you while breastfeeding, they could simply be distracted. Especially as your baby’s eyesight develops and they’re able to spot movement and people across the room, they might be more interested in other activities than being hungry. When this happens, it’s best to hold off on nursing and wait until your little one shows hunger cues. Try taking your little one into a quiet room to cuddle and enjoy some quiet time.

Is your baby teething?

Teething typically begins around 6 months of age, but your baby may show symptoms as early as 3 months or as late as 12 months. If you notice your baby biting during this time, they are probably more interested in relieving pain than breastfeeding. Try giving your baby a teething toy or breast milk popsicle to soothe their gums. When your teething baby bites, calmly but firmly say, “No biting,” and remove them from your breast. Your little one will learn that biting interferes with their desire to nurse.

Is your baby craving attention?

Focus on your baby while breastfeeding. Older infants tend to demand significant attention and may bite if they don’t feel they’re getting enough. You might want to try maintaining eye contact while breastfeeding to fully engage with them.

Is your baby overwhelmed by the milk flow?

Some babies will bite if a mother’s milk flow is too strong in an attempt to slow or stop forceful milk ejection. You might try leaning back while feeding and placing your baby in a more upright feeding position. Avoid pressing your baby’s head into your breast – even very lightly – because it’s important to allow them to easily take a break if necessary.

It’s also important to ensure that you and your baby have a proper latch. While nursing, your baby’s mouth should be wide open and their tongue should cover their bottom teeth. To make sure your latch is as comfortable and effective as possible, you may consider consulting with a Lactation Professional or reaching out to breastfeeding resources near you for assistance.

Have you experienced biting while breastfeeding? What solutions worked for you?

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