Why do babies bite when breastfeeding?

(July 22, 2010)

Biting During Breastfeeding

Why do babies bite when breastfeeding? There are several reasons for this. Breastfeeding is meant to be a calm and relaxing time for both mother and child. However, this may be problematic once the baby starts teething and biting his mother. Keep in mind, though, that not all babies will bite their mothers. Some may do it only once. Unfortunately, one bite is all it takes for a mother to become tense and on edge at feeding time.

So why do babies bit when breastfeeding? If the baby is teething he/she is probably biting to relieve the pressure in the gums. Teething pain is intensified while suckling and so the baby reacts by biting. Older babies may bite when they are distracted and not hungry. Remember if a baby is really hungry, he will not be biting. If distraction is the reason, then take the baby to a quiet room to feed. Babies do not realize that the biting causes the mother pain. Older babies may also bite to get their mother’s attention. One way to combat this biting in a teething baby is to give a cold teething ring before nursing. This will help to soothe his/her gums. Avoid using any teething gels as these only numb the baby’s tongue and will make feeding difficult. When the baby bites, stop feeding and remove your nipple from the baby’s mouth. Be stern and just say “no biting”. Put the baby down or give him/her to someone else for a while. Never pull your baby off when he/she is biting. You will only hurt yourself this way. If your baby looks like he/she is about to bite while breastfeeding, put your little finger between the gums and into the corner of the mouth. The baby will probably bite your finger instead.

A baby who is falling asleep at the end of a feed might also bite. Watch your baby’s jaw movements carefully to avoid this. Some babies bite if they are too hungry so that they can be satisfied quickly. Feed the baby more often if this is the case. Babies who have tight mouths may also bite when breastfeeding. For this, use your index finger to push the lower jaw of the baby.

Mothers should not lose heart if their babies start biting, whether because of teething or for any other reason. This phase soon passes and breastfeeding time will be normal once again.

Submitted by P T on July 22, 2010 at 04:16

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