Biting and Breastfeeding

Is your growing baby starting to bite at the breast?

Do your best to (a) be proactive and divert the bite from occurring, (b) If a bite occurs, remove baby from the breast safely using the smoosh-in/release method rather than instinctively pulling your baby away from the breast (which can cause damage, especially once there are has teeth). ( c) No biting/teething/gnawing on other people’s flesh. (fingers, nose, etc)

Biting is most common just before cutting a tooth, and so may come and go as a phase. Babies tend to be most likely to bite toward the end of a feeding so if you know your baby is in a nippy phase, you can be proactive and end the feed yourself when baby slows down, is on and off or mostly “playing around” toward the end.

When nursing, keep your hand close behind baby’s head/neck/shoulders (such as cross cradle position) so that if baby does bite down, you can use your hand to quickly “Smoosh” his face directly right into the breast – because this covers his nose and he can’t breath, he’ll immediately open his mouth, then you can take him off the breast safely without more pain or damage, and calmly but firmly say “No biting”. Do not yell or act angry (or playful). Sometimes it’s hard not to yelp (once child has top and bottom teeth) but you can frighten an older baby into a nursing strike. For a young baby, you can try re-latching or switching sides. For an older baby or toddler, after another bite at the same session, you may consider saying “no bite!” and ending the feeding. (Can try again in a little while).

Starting around 5-6 months (or just before teeth erupt),  don’t let him “chew” on your fingers (or chin or nose) any more. No biting anyone else’s flesh (he doesn’t understand why it’s ok to teethe on your fingers but not your nipple), or, why it’s ok for him to chew on your fingers before he has teeth, but not after…

Biting is an unpleasant phase but like most stages, this too shall pass.

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