breastfeeding, encouragement, parenting

Biting and Breastfeeding

Possibly, this is something most mothers are afraid of when they start breastfeeding. It is something that is on their mind from the very beginning – a question I get asked about often in home visits and workshops.

Biting while breastfeeding comes up not because children bite while nursing. In fact, a baby can’t bite at all while nursing because of the tongue position! Biting happens either because of teething, ear infection or cold (blocked noses and nursing are not compatible) and lastly it can also happen out of other reasons.

Teething:

  • Do not show an external reaction to the bite, some children find it funny and start biting just to see you react!
  • Say a firm “No biting, it hurts mama”
  • Unlatch baby straight away for a few seconds or minutes (it is up to you to gauge how long it should be)
  • Alternatively, push baby into your breast for a few seconds cutting off the air supply so they let go.
  • Check baby position; over time, children may become a bit sloppy in their latch making you hurt
  • Be attentive! be aware of your nursing child so as soon as you see baby is becoming restless you switch or unlatch baby
  • Talk to your child to distract them and keep them focused on you while nursing
  • Compress your breast while nursing so milk is flowing quicker and all the time and not giving them the opportunity to bite

Cold/Ear Infection:

  • Always review the position first, while it might be hurting, it can stop being good due to active nursing babies
  • Keep baby upright, especially with a blocked nose to help open the airways
  • If baby is tugging at their ear go to your health care professional for it is possibly an ear infection. Once medication kicks in and baby doesn’t hurt while nursing the biting will stop

Other reasons:

  • Baby is distracted. If your baby is distracted forget nursing them till they show interest. If they are moving about, not settling etc it is better to wait or take them somewhere less distracting to feed.
  • Wanting attention. Sometimes a baby wants attention while they are feeding. Maybe we are reading, talking to some one etc. If that happens remove baby calmly from the breast and firmly say we do not bite. Give your child some attention before going back to what you were doing.
  • Milk isn’t coming quick enough. If your baby is impatient and want milk quickly, compress the breast and or pump a bit to get the let down going. This usually happens when baby is tired or very hungry! Again be aware of your child and if baby is getting nervous unlatch and latch on the other breast.
  • Biting because they are finished feeding. Yes some babies instead of simply unlatching will bite when ready from a feed. Awareness of your child to notice when they start playing and stop feeding to unlatch them straightaway is important. Of course if it happens again calmly and firmly let them know that biting is not an option.

Of course, biting is normally always a phase which goes by like all other phases. However, if need be feel free to speak to me so I can help you out further as needed.

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