When your baby bites you while breastfeeding, it can be excruciating. Our first knee jerk reaction is often to scream and jump halfway across the room. We may even yell at our little one out of shock.
Unfortunately, our babies usually respond to this by either laughing, thinking it’s a new game, or crying, thinking you are angry at them. If your baby is biting you while nursing, here are a few strategies to try.
1) Stop it before it happens.
If you pay close attention, you can probably tell when your baby is about to bite. It sometimes happens toward the end of a feeding or when your baby is tired.
If they have a good latch, they are not able to bite down at the same time so you can often feel their latch change right before it happens.
2) Use a calm voice.
This can be tough when you feel the sharp pain of teeth against your skin, but it will help your baby to hear your message. Calmly tell your baby “no biting,” unlatch them, and wait a short while before re-latching them. It’s important not to disconnect with your baby at this point by putting them down or walking away.
Babies will sometimes go on a nursing strike if the reaction is too strong. They are not deliberately hurting you although their giggles may make you wonder. They are learning that their actions can affect the world around them and that is an exciting discovery. Be gentle.
3) Babies often bite while breastfeeding when they are teething.
Biting down relieves the pressure in their gums. Unlatch your baby and give them their favorite teether. Tell them, “I see that you need to bite. You can’t bite me, but you can bite this teether.”
Give them a minute or two to chew on the teether, then allow them to latch again. Breast milk popsicles, slush or frozen washcloths can also help soothe sore gums.
Biting during breastfeeding is extremely painful, and it leads many moms to consider weaning. The good news is it’s usually a passing phase.