Biting During Breastfeeding

babyteeth.JPGToday, Carole Arsenault of Newborn Nurses offers tips for coping with biting during breastfeeding:

“Ouch! Although a teething baby does occasionally bite the breast, it doesn’t mean that s/he needs to be weaned right away. The biting should be temporary, especially if baby has been nursing effectively up to this point. Here are some tips to help manage biting during breastfeeding:
Alternate causes. Aside from teething, factors that may contribute to biting are: low milk supply, using artificial nipples, and nasal congestion in baby. Maintaining a sufficient milk supply and avoiding artificial nipples for a while will help to prevent biting.

Teething solutions. If you have ruled out other causes and teething is the culprit, offer baby something cold to bite on before the feed to help soothe irritated gums.

Unlatch when the feed is finished. Keep in mind that as long as baby is nursing properly, it’s impossible for baby to bite the breast. Most biting occurs in a playful fashion at the end of a feeding. If your baby is inclined to bite in this manner, take him/her off the breast as soon as s/he begins to slow down and the feeding is finished.

Teach baby about biting consequences. If a bite does occur mid-feed, remove baby from the breast immediately and firmly tell him/her ‘no,’ even if your baby is laughing at you. Don’t return him/her to the breast immediately. Instead, wait at least 30 minutes, or, if possible, end the nursing session. Offering food to baby immediately after biting is actually rewarding her for this behavior. Be consistent with this pattern to help baby learn.

Remain calm. While it can be stressful and irritating, the good news is that biting is common and will pass - it’s usually just one of many quick phases that your baby will go through.”

+ + + + +

For older kids, check out Heather’s column on handling toddler biting behavior, as well as a column I wrote about coping with biting behavior for