How do I Get My Baby to Stop Biting While Nursing?

Introducing a common concern faced by many nursing parents: “How do I Get My Baby to Stop Biting While Nursing?” As a cherished bonding experience, breastfeeding can occasionally bring about challenges, and one of the more discomforting ones is when your baby starts to bite. This not only creates physical discomfort but might also deter the enjoyable feeding moments.

In this guide, we delve into effective strategies and insights to tackle this issue with patience and care. From understanding the potential reasons behind biting behavior to exploring proven techniques that encourage a gentle transition, we provide practical advice to help both you and your baby navigate this phase smoothly. Discover the steps to ensure that nursing remains a soothing and pleasant experience for both you and your little one.

Preventing Biting: What Physical Cues to Be Aware Of?

Before you can effectively address and prevent your baby from biting while nursing, it’s crucial to be attuned to the subtle signs they may exhibit before a bite occurs. Here are some additional signs to watch for:

Change in Facial Expression: Keep an eye on your baby’s facial expressions. A sudden change from contentment to tension or discomfort could indicate an impending bite.

Restlessness: If your baby starts squirming or becoming fidgety during a feed, it may be a sign that they are getting ready to bite.

Audible Sounds: Listen for changes in the sounds your baby makes while nursing. If you hear a change from a rhythmic sucking noise to more of a clicking or nibbling sound, they might be gearing up to bite.

Shallow Latch: A shallow latch, where your baby doesn’t take in enough breast tissue, can lead to discomfort and potentially biting. Pay attention to how your baby latches onto the breast.

Nipple Movement: Watch the movement of your nipple. If your baby starts pulling or tugging at your nipple rather than sucking, it could be a sign that they are about to bite.

How to Stop a Breastfeeding Baby from Biting?

A nip from your little one can be not only painful but also quite startling. Whether you have a newborn, a teething toddler, or an older baby, biting can happen when you least expect it. But fear not, as there are effective strategies to prevent and address this issue. In this section, we’ll explore how to stop a baby from biting while nursing.

For Newborns: Adjust the Latch

If you’re dealing with a newborn who occasionally bites during feeding, consider adjusting the latch. Newborns are still learning how to breastfeed effectively, and sometimes, biting can occur if they haven’t latched on properly. Try nursing in a laid-back position, which can encourage your baby to open their mouth wider and achieve a better latch. In some cases, biting may be a sign of a tongue tie or other oral restriction that hampers your baby’s ability to latch correctly. If this persists, seeking advice from a lactation consultant can be immensely helpful.

For Older Babies: Don’t React

When dealing with an older baby who bites during nursing, one key strategy is not to react strongly. Babies are naturally curious and are learning cause and effect. If they see a strong reaction from you when they bite, they might find it amusing and continue to bite. Although it’s undoubtedly painful when you’re bitten, try to remain calm. Address the behavior as either physical (teething-related) or behavioral (attention-seeking).

Use a Teething Necklace for Distraction

If teething is the culprit behind your baby’s biting, using a teething necklace as a distraction can be beneficial. Teach your baby that the breast is for nursing and the teething necklace is for biting. If your baby bites during a feeding, avoid reacting strongly. Instead, stop the feeding and gently offer the teething necklace to them. Pay attention to your baby’s cues; they might engage with the necklace or indicate that they want to continue feeding.

Formula-feeding-baby

Put the Baby Down and Say No

Some breastfed babies turn biting into a game by laughing. To discourage this behavior, calmly say “No” and stop the feeding session. Place your baby in a safe space like a crib or playpen and quietly move out of their visual range. This teaches your baby that biting leads to the end of the feeding session, reinforcing cause and effect in a positive way.

Stay Vigilant

Staying vigilant is crucial when dealing with a baby prone to biting. Keep an eye out for cues that precede biting. Some babies may exhibit a mischievous glint in their eyes just before they bite. Understanding these cues can help you anticipate and prevent biting. If you can predict a bite before it happens, you can prepare by introducing a teething necklace or controlling your reaction, making breastfeeding more successful for both you and your baby.

What Do I Immediately Do If my Baby Bites me?

When your baby bites during breastfeeding, it’s crucial to remain calm and composed, as a sudden reaction might startle them and affect their willingness to nurse. Gently break the latch by inserting your finger between your baby’s gums to prevent further clamping down, ensuring your touch is firm yet gentle. Throughout feeds, maintain a steady stream of communication with your baby, as gentle talking and interaction can help keep them engaged in nursing and reduce the likelihood of biting.

Tips for Preventing Baby Biting During Breastfeeding

Following are some great tips to prevent your baby from biting you during breastfeeding:

  • Offer a cold teething toy or a refrigerated washcloth for your baby to chew on before breastfeeding to soothe their gums and reduce the likelihood of biting.
  • Keep a finger nearby during breastfeeding to quickly break the suction if your baby attempts to bite.
  • If your baby does bite, gently remove them from the breast and offer a safe alternative, like a teething ring or a clean finger to bite on.
  • Encourage a deeper latch by briefly repositioning your baby if it starts to bite during breastfeeding.
  • Explore different breastfeeding positions, such as a reclined posture, to find one that allows your baby to latch more comfortably and reduce the temptation to bite.
  • Provide verbal praise and positive attention when your baby breastfeeds without biting to reinforce good behavior.
  • Pay close attention to your baby’s cues and behavior to recognize when they may be getting ready to bite or when the feed is nearing its end. This enables you to act preemptively.
  • Refrain from shouting or reacting negatively if your baby bites. This can discourage biting for attention and help maintain a positive breastfeeding experience.

Conclusion

Breastfeeding is a beautiful journey that may come with its challenges, including biting. Understanding why babies bite, how to prevent it, and how to respond calmly will help ensure a positive and enjoyable breastfeeding experience for both you and your baby. Patience and persistence are your allies as you navigate this phase, knowing that it’s just a small part of the incredible journey of motherhood.