My third child was born with teeth. They were two little daggers waiting to see what damage they could do on me. And knowing the pain of both the newborn stage and the horrors of a biting baby while trying to breastfeeding, my blood ran cold just at the sight of them.
Breastfeeding is hard enough.
I mean, what seems like the most natural thing in the world is one of the hardest accomplishments I have ever had. Through the adventures of learning to breastfeed a baby, tandem nursing, and then thinking I would master the third kid and still experiencing pain… I have learned quite a lot.
7 mom-approved techniques to prevent a breastfed baby from biting your boob
Use the “squish” method
This is my absolute favorite and most tried and true method of getting a biting baby off my breast. All three of my kids responded well to this.
Simple press baby’s head into your breast, thus sealing off their nostril’s to air. Because their nose and mouth are both occupied, the quickly unlatch to take in a deep breath.
Over time, they learn that biting leads to no milk. And if they want milk, they can’t bite!
Have a finger ready to quickly unlatch your biting baby
Of course this is a simple solution to be ready with a hand nearby, especially when you know you have a teething baby.
My friend Paula discusses how she uses a finger and faces baby out when they bite… any why.
Help your child empathize with you by letting them know biting hurts you
Your baby knows that they cry when they need something or when hurt. It’s universal across all ages and languages.
For young babies, crying when they hurt you conveys this message or Saying OUCH to an older baby or a nursing toddler is an easy way to help them understand you’re hurt.
Watch for Smiles and tension in the jaw
While, yes, sometimes your baby might just be happy to smile at your for the liquid gold you’re giving them, sometimes it’s also an indicator for when they’re full or otherwise might start biting.
Watch to see if letdown is the cause of your baby clamping down on the breast
Sometimes, especially with young babies, they start tightening their jaw in effort to stop the flow of milk. In this case, go ahead and express it in a cup so that your newborn isn’t overwhelmed.
Older kids might even bite to try to bring the milk down if they are frustarted. In this case, try to work the milk down for them or hold a duct to help get milk out faster if they want it faster.
Distract your baby to deter biting
A great teething nacklace is a nice distraction. It will be right there in their face while feeding and it means they’re less likely to either get bored or disinterested in feeding which many times leads to biting.
With young babies, avoid anything that could cause nipple confusion
For my oldest, we only introduced a pacifier after about 6-8 weeks and it was only used in the car. For my middle, she never got a pacifier or bottle…ever. And with my third, he got a pacifier at 5 weeks.
He was constantly sucking and needed it. Because he had teeth, remember?
As Rhett has gotten older, we start taking the pacifier away from him when he starts biting more so that it’s less of an issue.
What has worked for you when baby bites?
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!