Ohhh the joys of nursing those little Teething Nibblers….
Nursing through teething is something many mothers get anxious about especially when hearing all the horror stories from their peers and in online mom groups. This was something I even worried about ; wondering if I was bitten by my daughter if it would affect our journey. Below I will share some tips I have also shared within the breastfeeding community on different platforms to take preventative action to biting and what to do if you are bitten during a feed. These tips helped me as I am headed toward our 10th month of breastfeeding, with 2 teeth and 2 more on the way.
Most babies try biting during the teething stage when they are around 4-6 months old. Teething hurts and chewing helps to relieve your baby’s pain.
Here’s the good news: A baby who is latched on and nursing properly cannot bite your nipple. If the nipple is far back in their mouth, and lips and gums are about an inch behind the nipple on the areola, then the tongue will stop the bites because it should be between the lower teeth and your breast.
Tips to stop the baby nibbles:
1. Biting at the end of a nursing session: Notice when baby is biting – usually it’s at the end of nursing and they’re playing around, though it doesn’t feel playful to you. WATCH for signs of boredom, watch for tension in baby’s jaw before they start to bite down, they may pull the tongue back from the proper nursing position over the lower gum/teeth, or, you may notice the intensity of the sucking slows. If you notice any of these warning signs, remove that babe from your breast before the biting starts.
2. Offer a teething toy or something cold to bite (instead of you) in between feeds. Breasilk popsicles, ice cubes in a mesh feeder, frozen teether or cloth are a good alternatives. This can help relieve some of their discomfort; and doing this prior to the next feed can minimize babies need to harden their suckle to get gum relief.
What to do if baby bites:
3. There are a few things you can do immediately to stop your baby from biting. The most effective thing you can do is to calmly remove your baby from your breast (with your pinky) and either say nothing, or say something like “no biting.”
4. You can also do a pinky latch release , firmly say “no biting” ; then set baby down and walk away. This helps them connect the cause and effect. Biting leads to the end of the feed; and this can assist them with fixing their latch bc they know the feed wont be ended prematurely.
5. Some mothers opt to bring baby into their breast so baby naturally releases their latch to breathe. (I personally prefer the first method).
6. Stop nursing immediately and remove the little biter for a few seconds or a few minutes (you need to be the judge of how long is best – use your instincts by your baby’s reaction). If they really want to keep nursing, they’ll be upset and you can give another chance.
What NOT to do if baby bites:
NEVER scream or yell. This is the most important thing to do and is of course hard when you are in pain. Many babies are so scared of yelling that they go on a nursing strike. Screaming or yelling will not stop baby biting – it will only cause problems. Often their feelings will be hurt and he will begin to cry. This is negative reinforcement and is not effective. Some babies will be so upset by your reaction that they will refuse to nurse altogether. Babies are sensitive.
The earlier you start the better and more aware baby will be as the teeth begin to sprout.
Share what helps you when baby begins to teeth and nipple/bite in comments below if you’d like !