I’ve had a lot of Moms contact me recently about tips to prevent their infant (and older babies) from biting while breastfeeding. This can really be an issue as infants get a little older and start to cut teeth. I talk about this more in my Intermediate Breastfeeding video class.
Easing the discomfort of teething
Wearing a silicone teething necklace and/or giving your baby a teething toy can decrease the number of baby bites during breastfeeding.
Offering cold finger foods (frozen peas, blueberries) or also freezing breastmilk in an ice cube tray and offering it to your teething baby in a mesh feeder. This can really sooth baby’s gums.
What to do when baby is biting
Many infants will bite towards the end of a feed when they become bored and want to play, or new teeth could be making baby’s mouth sore, or milk flow could be dwindling towards the end of a nursing session. If you start observing closely, you should be able to recognize this playful behavior coming on and stop the feed before biting occurs. You can do this by breaking suction and turning baby’s attention to a book or toy. Make sure baby has gotten what he needs from the breast and don’t be alarmed if your infant wants to ‘snack’ more during the teething period. By ‘snacking’ I mean shorter, more frequent nursing sessions. When baby bites, you want to break suction, make eye contact with baby and tell them “No, no, no,” repeated 3 times. Be cautious not to yell or startle your baby as this could cause a nursing strike (breast refusal for 2-7 days). Baby can come back to breast after this, but if biting continues, break suction, say “No, no, no,” 3 times and set baby down somewhere safe and walk away for a minute or two. When you return, talk to your little one, letting him/her know that biting hurts, and mommy can’t feed when they bite. It may seem silly, but with consistency this should do the trick!
I hope this helps! My Intermediate Breastfeeding class is a great follow-up to Breastfeeding Basics because it addresses so many common issues like cracked areolas, sore nipples, mastitis, getting a good latch, thrush, jaundice, tongue-tie, over supply, slow weight gain, boosting milk supply, how to introduce solids, and much more! Great information you don’t want to miss out on.
Thanks for coming by today,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC and Lactation Consultant