Your sweet baby is nursing wonderfully. They are happy, full and growing strong. OUCH! They also have their first teeth! This issue covers the sometimes painful occurrence of biting and teething.
Having a baby bite mom while breastfeeding can be a very painful experience. Often this is related to teething, but not every baby bites mom while teething. The tongue protects mom’s nipple from baby’s teeth while actively nursing which means they can’t bite. Biting usually occurs at the end of a feeding. It’s important for mom to communicate to baby that biting is not funny nor is it acceptable. She should say “NO” to baby, “that hurts Mommy.” If baby bites again during that feeding session, mom should stop the feeding.
Mom shouldn’t pull baby off the breast when baby bites because that can cause more nipple damage. Here are 3 different alternatives.
- Slip a finger in baby’s mouth to break the suction.
- Bring baby in very close to mom which will block the airway causing baby to let go.
- Gently pinch the baby’s nose so that he opens his mouth and lets go.
Be aware of what caused the biting episode such as teasing baby or yelling at older siblings. Babies are sensitive to mom’s moods-If mom is relaxed, baby senses this and is more likely to be relaxed and less likely to tense up and bite. Nursing in a darkened room or having relaxing music playing can be helpful. Give baby positive reinforcement for not biting by smiling, hugging, kissing and saying “Good baby”.
Below are a few things mom can do to prevent baby from biting again.
- Provide teething toys so that he knows what is acceptable to chew on. Chilling the toys in the refrigerator is also soothing to sore gums.
- Try to give baby mom’s complete attention while nursing with talking, touching and eye contact. This will also help mom be more aware of when the feeding is nearing the end.
Babies don’t bite mom to be mean. They have to learn what to do with their new teeth. These suggestions should help baby learn what is acceptable behavior during breastfeeding while continuing to make them feel safe and secure.