Breastfeeding is an amazing experience for any mother, with benefits for both the mother and the baby. The feeling of attachment and nursing your baby is significant, memorable and something very close to your heart. However it is difficult to relax and enjoy the moment when your baby develops a habit of biting you during breastfeeding. A nipple bite from your baby can be quite agonizing and may make you cautious throughout the feeding session due to the fear that it will happen again. This will definitely affect the charm of breastfeeding, and sometimes make you dread the feeding sessions.
Why Does A Baby Bite During Breastfeeding?
A baby can’t bite if he is feeding properly as the tongue covers his lower teeth while suckling and the nipple will be deep inside his mouth. In this situation it is impossible to bite the nipple for the baby without biting his own tongue. The biting happens if the tongue is not positioned well or due to shallow latch (both of which will allow the baby to bite the nipple). Hence it is very important to make sure that the baby is well latched and most of your aerola is inside the baby’s mouth. A baby may also bite when he is teething, though some babies never bite. If you think that you need to wean your baby now that she has sprouted some teeth, then you are wrong. Biting can usually be dealt with a little persistence from the mother. It is largely a temporary issue and once you are able too figure out something that works for your baby to dissuade from biting, the stage will get over.
5 Reasons A Baby Bites During Breastfeeding
Here are 5 main reasons why babies bite during breastfeeding:
- Biting due to pain: When baby is in pain due to a cold or an ear infection, he may find it hard to suck and due to this he may bite. Teething may also cause a baby to seek comfort by sinking his teeth onto the nipple
- At the beginning or end of feeding: If the baby is facing problems while latching on the breast, he may tend to bite on the nipple. Babies also tend to bite at the end of the feeding session as they get bored and are no longer hungry now
- Distraction: For some babies, any kind of disturbance while feeding can make them bite. Make sure that you feed the baby in a room with not much happening around
- Sleep: When the baby falls asleep in the middle of a feed, he is most likely to bite. Infact, removing your nipple from the mouth of a grown baby can be very, very painful. Always be alert and when the baby tends to doze off, remove him from the breast
- Seeking attention: If you are not attentive to your baby while feeding him, he is likely to bite you. Some babies bite just to see the mother’s reaction or as a fun game- yeah, babies are pretty naughty!
Some babies have a tendency to rest their top teeth on the breast during feed causing indentation in the breast. This usually does not cause any pain. If you notice that your baby is biting during breastfeeding please do not worry. Here are a few tips that will help you prevent your baby from biting. Watch closely when the baby changes his tongue’s position. Slowly you will understand a pattern. It is easy to prevent biting once you understand why and when your baby starts to bite you.
8 Ways To Prevent Your Baby From Biting While Breastfeeding
Here are 8 ways that will help you to prevent your baby from biting while breastfeeding:
- Never scream: Screaming and scaring the baby is not a good option to prevent the baby from biting. This may lead to a condition called the “nursing strike”, where the child refuses to breastfeed anymore. On the other hand, sometimes, the child might mistake your scream as a part of some game and will start to bite you repeatedly. Either way screaming is not an option to prevent the baby from biting
- Pull the baby towards the breast: During breastfeeding time, the baby is breathing through the nose. When he starts to bite you, rather than pulling him away from the breast pull him closer to you. This way, his nose gets blocked and he will be compelled to open his mouth instinctively to breathe through. Now you can pull your breast out. Do it every time your little one bites you. The nose being blocked is not a good experience for the little one. Slowly he will pick up the cue and stop biting you
- Put in a finger: By closely watching your baby you will come to know when he is about to bite you. Sometimes the baby bites towards the end of the feed or sometimes in the middle when his initial thirst or hunger subsides. Be prepared to break off the feed as soon as you notice the change. Never hesitate to put your finger on the corner of the child’s mouth and pull the nipple out of his mouth
- Initiate a letdown: Baby biting at the beginning of the feed can be due to the “letdown” reflex not working properly. As a result, the hungry baby tends to bite the nipple hoping for more milk to come. To prevent this, just before feeding, massaging the breast and doing some nipple rolls will help to initiate the letdown before the baby latches himself to the breast. In addition, you can try compressing the breast while the baby is feeding to help him get more milk to satisfy his initial hunger or thirst. This way he will not bite
- Feed him only when he is hungry: Feeding is the time when the baby gets his mother to himself. So there is a chance he tries to make you feed him even if he is not that hungry. There may be a possibility that you might try to feed him beforehand if you are stepping out or tied up for next couple of hours. Either ways, feeding the baby when he is not hungry increases the chances of biting. Therefore, if your baby develops a habit of biting, never feed him unless he is hungry. This way you might be able to prevent the baby from biting you
- Maintain a good position: A good position plays a significant role in healthy feeding. Find out a comfortable position that works for both you and your baby and stick to it. This will prevent the baby biting you while feeding
- Talk to your baby: Always talk to your baby while feeding him. Try to maintain constant communication like singing or telling a story or simply humming throughout the time you feed your baby. Whenever his jaws tightens in order to bite, say a strong “no”. For some babies, if the mother puts a stern impression on her face, it will work. For some others, a warning sound is required. Find out what will work for your little one and try it. Either way, the baby should be able to pick the cue. Repeat it whenever he tries to bite
- Teach and warn the baby: You can teach your little one and warn him at times that biting is not going to work anymore. For this, you do not have to shout or scream. Just stop feeding and let the baby lie down on the floor or bed. Keep a watchful eye, but let him think that you are not paying attention. If he bites you in order to get your attention, he will get the signal and will stop biting. If he bites again, repeat the punishment. Babies are smart enough to pick the hint and eventually stop biting
The ultimate solution to deal with a baby who bites during a feeding session is to calmly remove him from the breast and stopping the nursing session.
If your baby bites due to a cold or an infection, consult your doctor for suggestions on what to do.