What to do if your Baby Bites While Nursing
It is not uncommon as a breastfeeding mom to worry about your nursling biting even before they develop any teeth. Be reassured you can continue to breastfeed throughout teething and beyond. A baby may bite during feeds for various reasons. These can include teething, discomfort, distraction or fast milk flow. Read on for some helpful tips regarding what to do if your baby bites while nursing.
If your baby bites you at the start of a nursing session, they may have discomfort from erupting teeth. Offer your baby a cold teether prior to nursing to help numb their gums. A frozen washcloth can also be used. A baby may also bite at the start of a feeding session if mom has a fast or forceful let down of milk. To help remedy this feed your baby in a more upright position such as koala hold or football hold. You can also apply gentle compression with your hand above your areola to slow milk flow.
If the biting occurs at the end of a nursing session, your baby may be distracted or simply done feeding. To help with distraction try nursing in a dark, quiet room or while the baby is drowsy. Avoid having the tv on or looking at something else besides your baby. You can also wear a baby safe teething necklace during feeds to help keep your baby’s focus on the breast.
If you sense that your infant is about to finish the nursing session, take them off the breast before biting occurs. A baby that has an effective latch and is actively feeding will not be able to bite. The best way to prevent your baby from biting is by watching intently during the nursing session. If your baby appears disinterested or his sucking and swallowing slows, this may be a sign that your baby is done. Unlatch your baby at this point. Be sure to use your finger inside of your baby’s cheek to break the latch. Avoid pulling your baby off the breast.
If your baby does bite, there are a couple of things to do to discourage it from happening again. First, calmly remove your baby from your breast and say nothing. This should send the message that biting leads to ending the nursing session. Offer your baby a teething toy to bite on when you remove her from the breast. You can also calmly say something like “Okay. All done nursing.” Try to avoid yelling or wincing out loud. Depending on your child’s age this may either scare them into a nursing strike or if they are older, they may think this is funny and turn it into a game. Give your baby a few minutes to rest and try to offer the breast again.
If your child bites you and will not let go you can try to sneak your finger into their mouth and unlatch them by putting pressure on their gums with your finger. You can also try to pull your baby in close which makes it slightly more difficult to breathe which will in turn have them open their mouth and pull off the breast. Watch for any signs of nipple damage and treat your nipples as needed to avoid infection.
If you are having issues with biting during feeding sessions contact The Care Connection either by phone 716-725-6370 or by email at email@example.com to speak with one of our IBCLCs.