November 16, 2022 4 min read
Many breastfeeding mothers go through the issue where the baby chomps down on the nipple hard while nursing.
Some babies bite quite a lot during the nursing session while some only do it a few times. And of course, if you are lucky, your baby might never bite. But if she does, biting can be quite painful.
Today, we explore the reasons for biting and discuss how you can deal with it.
Reasons for babies biting during breastfeeding
Below are some of the reasons why a baby might bite.
1. In newborns, biting can be in response to a change in breastfeeding position while the baby is nursing. It could also be to slow down the milk supply if they are getting too much milk while suckling.
2. If your baby is six months or older and is teething, she might be biting due to the challenges associated with teething. It is similar to your baby putting toys or objects in her mouth and biting down on them while teething.
3. Some babies bite when the milk supply is low. When a hungry baby is frustrated with less milk flow, she might bite.
4. Sometimes, incorrect latching can also cause the baby’s teeth or gums to come in contact with your breast. When this happens, even if your baby is not biting, it might feel like she is when she vigorously suckles.
5. Babies that are a little older might need your attention and bite to get it.
How to deal with a baby biting during breastfeeding?
1. If you think your baby is biting due to low milk supply, feed her more frequently.
2. If your baby is biting, keep your little finger ready to break the suction.
3. If your baby is teething and bites, break the suction and give her something else to bite on before continuing with the nursing session.
4. If you think the problem is due to incorrect latching, work on a correct latch and breastfeeding position. Ideally, your baby’s tongue should cover her lower gums (or teeth) which decreases her chances of biting down. A reclining position often gives you a deeper latch and helps in discouraging biting.
5. If your baby is prone to biting, give her a cold teething toy for some time before you start the breastfeeding session.
6. For a baby that has just started getting new teeth, give her some time to get used to the new latching style.
For little ones, having teeth can feel a bit different. The problem of biting often goes away when babies figure out a latching style that lets them use their tongues to accommodate their teeth.
7. When you feel like the baby is about to bite, you can also hold them closer. As their nose presses against your breast, the mouth opens and the biting stops.
8. Interact with your baby while nursing and as they become old enough to understand your tone and voice, praise them when they go through a feeding session without biting.
9. If you think your little one is biting to slow down the milk flow, take the baby off. You need to observe whether the milk flow at the beginning is high and can overwhelm the baby. If this is the case, just take a short break and start feeding again.
10. If you feel your baby is biting to get your attention, give the baby plenty of attention by speaking to her while nursing.
If this happens to you, mummy, don’t blame yourself. All you need to re-establish your nursing sessions is to have patience. Continue offering the breasts with some patience and encouraging words.
Also, if the baby is not feeding, do consider pumping to keep up the milk supply till the baby starts latching again.
Biting can cause nipples to crack. Do use a good nipple cream to help your nipples heal faster from the impact of biting.
You can also consult your doctor to know which cream you should use. Ideally, you can continue to breastfeed even when this happens. However, if the pain is too much to bear, rest the nipple for some time and feed from the other breast. When you feed only from one breast, it will increase milk production to match your baby’s demand.
Experts recommend that babies should be breastfed even beyond six months till the time both you and baby can continue breastfeeding. Hence, do not stop breastfeeding when the baby starts teething. Instead, recognise the patterns and use the tips given above to deal with the challenge.
Breastfeeding is one of the best decisions a mother takes for her baby’s health and well-being.
Yes, it does come with some challenges. But hang in there, mummy. You got this.
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