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Protocol for Biting When Breastfeeding

Jack with his mouth open to bite you!
When your baby bites, pull their face into your breast quickly so their nose is blocked. This will cause them to open their mouths to get a breath. Baby will let go without you having to rip your nipple out. Look them in the eyes with a pained expression on your face, and say, “ow, that hurt mommy, ow.” I found it seemed to help a lot if I gently touched the baby’s teeth/gums at this point, so they understand what you mean. Once you have clearly communicated with your child, resume breastfeeding. Do this consistently every time they bite, and your babe will get it.
Remember that they are not actually trying to hurt you. Don’t ever yell or sound angry, or reject them by putting them down; you are more likely to scare them and no one can learn while they are scared. A lot of advice that circulates for this problem can be the perfect prescription to induce a nursing strike–no fun for anyone!
Another possible result of this type of reaction is the kid thinks its a game because he/she gets a big reaction. Either way not the result you want!
By Alice Romolo

Comments

  1. this is a great idea!

  2. Going through this right now. My 8 month old has 5 teeth and is teething. He keeps biting! It is really hard not to yell out “oww!” I stick my finger in to break the seal but I’ll try bringing him instead.

  3. 1. No, I am not mistaken. As a mental health professional I assure you no one learns when scared. You are in fight or flight mode when scared which is not conducive to anything but survival.

    2. At no point is the child not breathing. They breath through their nose and when that is blocked they breath through their mouth just like anyone else and this is when you remove your nipple.

    Thanks for your input though.

    • Amen!

    • That was supposed to be lower jaw and tongue ***

    • Sometimes when you’re working with an older baby, the “right latch” doesn’t stop them from biting. Or unlatching with a finger. My 15mo bites harder if I try to put my finger in there.

    • This is why I love and follow your page! Very insightful as my 5 month old is breaking skin on his first tooth and I was worried about this! He’s already tried what feels like yanking it off several times! Keep Rockin’!

  4. This makes a lot of sense and I understand what you are saying. My 11 month old daughter has made biting me while nursing a game and she bites down so hard that I cannot get my finger into her mouth to break the seal without worrying that I will hurt her. I will definitely try this next time she decides to try removing my nipples.

    • Isn’t ironic that we are so concerned about not hurting them when breaking the seal yet the issue at hand is them biting us! LOL. Gotta love being a momma!

  5. My baby just turned 5 months today and just cut his first two teeth yesterday. I experienced my first nip today and did not react the way that I had wanted to. It caught me off guard and cried out in pain and withdrew my breast quickly (which only made the pain worse) and I scared him which I felt terrible about.

    Thanks for the advice I will try this next time it happens, hopefully this phase is over quickly!

  6. Asia Dilbeck says

    I am glad that I came across this. For some reason whenever I break the seal it hurts worse. Letting him come off would be more gentle.

  7. Ashlea Blumenshine says

    Wish I would have seen this before Brooke started biting (which thankfully only lasted 3 days) because I did put her down a couple of times, but I did that because she had 6 teeth and I was in need of a breather. So not sure if things would have been much different.

  8. Laura Molitor says

    Great advice! Any suggestions for 12 month old who is now getting top teeth in and doesn’t bite, but sort of “rubs” or drags her teeth on my skin while nursing? It happens consistently each time from start to finish so there isn’t a moment to correct. It has caused sores that make me want to cry each time she eats. I don’t want to stop nursing but I wonder if its time.

    • Hi Laura. I believe that happens because your daughter does not have enough flesh in her mouth. Try unlatching her and when you go to relatch, get as much of the breast in as you can. Unfortunately I still have this problem at 25 months, teeth leaving indent marks sometimes.

  9. So happy that I found this. My son is almost 5 months and although he doesn’t have teeth yet – they are clearly on the way soon. My mother in law has told me to lightly flick him on the nose if he bites (for the record – i have not done this, fortunately he is not biting yet) and I think that’s a terrible idea. This sounds like a much better idea. Thanks.

  10. Thanks so much for posting the link to this on your fb page. My 5 month old has sprouted 2 teeth over the last few weeks and is making it very known they are there. I am getting anxious feeding him waiting for the bite! Will give this one a go tomorrow!!

  11. Thank you for this information. I’ve been reacting to my 14 month daughter nibbles. I’ve taking her off the nipple, plopping her down and yelling, thinking she knows what she is doing. Now she thinks it’s a game. I asked my mother-in-law about this biting. And she said its time to wing. Is this true? I hope not. When do you know when it’s time to wing.

  12. My 13 month old son loves to nurse. He is not biting all the time but sometimes when he does, he clamps down, then drags his four front teeth over my nipple before letting go. I know he is looking for my reaction. I have tried both pulling him close and using a finger to unlatch, say ouch and the move on. Is there something else I can also try?

  13. I am struggling with my 9 month old on this right now! When I push his face in-he bites down harder before letting go..I always point to his month and say “ow that hurts mommy” or “ow no biting”. I have been setting him next to me and waiting a few moments before continuing to nurse and handing him a teether or his paci….now is just the waiting game of when he will actually get it!

  14. Katrina & Kaden says

    Kaden is almost 3 months old and although he doesn’t have teeth yet this frightens me so bad. I know it’s going to hurt :/ he already bites down now without teeth and it hurts a little.

  15. Thanks for the advice my 7 month old has 6 teeth and it hurts!! To the lady who asked about the constant rubbing from the top teeth I find feeding in a diff position has helped lying down for us works. And when it’s really bad a nipple shield. Important thing is a happy baby and mummy.

  16. I tell people this exact advice ALL the time! Though it can be hard not to screech when pained by teeth. My 22mo son is not currently biting (it comes and goes), but when I do the boob-smoosh, he thinks it is HILARIOUS! I mean, he lets go to breathe, but then he grins or giggles. Ugh.

  17. Jessika McDonald says

    Good ideas ! My children have/are getting their teeth my first son was 9 months before his first tooth, the first day I noticed it and was a bout to nurse, I firmly told him you bite (touched his new tooth) we are all done. Needless to say he never bite me! My second son I may very well try this when the time comes but he still has no teeth=X altho gum bites hurt also!

  18. My 9month old has recently started biting and I have clearly reacted wrong (pulling her off and practically in tears saying no). She only does it on the right side though. Any ideas why only the one side and what I can possibly do to correct her behavior??

    • Is this anyone else’s problem? Biting only one side? Other than only nursing on the other side, are there any suggestions?

  19. I can’t understand why some of you are so afraid of having a normal reaction to pain, like it will scar your child forever. If your child hurts you, intentional or not, it is fine to scream out in pain. That will produce EMPATHY from your child. I see the results of you scaredy cats all the time as an education professional. You never told your children how their actions actually affect others, and now they can’t handle the truth. Believe me, your relationship with your child will not be permanently damaged by a true cry of pain from you.

    • Jolanie Lubbe says

      O thank goodness. One normal person!!!! I CANNOT AGREE WITH YOU MORE. You wont scar your child if you react in a very normal way. Both boys only tried it once and never again. They breastfed 1yr and 2yrs and are beautifully balanced happy children with firm boundaries that knows moms no is actually NO.

  20. I also have taken to letting my son hold on to his teether when he is having a really hard time. He alternated chomping on the teether and nursing nice as you please!

  21. I had to dig through your post find this because I didn’t read it the first time! My little one just began biting me in her 7month. I had see someone post to pull her babies hair when they bite. So today after she bite for the 3rd time in a row in one sitting I pulled a little piece of her hair! Huh I regretted it immediately! It brought tears to her eyes and you could tell that it just hurt her to the core! My poor baby NEVER AGAIN! After soothing her I found your post. I will be trying this next time. For the sake of my nips I hope she learns quick! …. Thanks!

  22. Your method is the method I used to discourage my baby from biting. She learned very quickly not to bite and our nursing relationship adjusted smoothly. I however disagree that blocking air to the nose is in any way harmful. The baby has only to open its mouth to get air, and will do that by instinct without any delay for a thought process.

  23. I am having issues with lock jaw after my two year old falls asleep on the breast. She isnt doing on purpose of course but breaking the seal is really difficult when its pretty much all teeth gripped on tight. I am also 15 weeks pregnant so my nipples are already sore and sensitive.

  24. I new about this solution when I had my son who is now 4 almost 5, when he was nursing. However, in practice, it’s not so easy. For whatever reason when he bit my reaction was always to pull him off me so I never did quite get the hang of it. I will be trying it with my dd if she starts though

  25. My lil boy is almost 5 months the 6th and is biting the crap out of me literally my boobs hurts so bad I wanna cry he has no teeth. I’ve tried the no thing but he just smiles n kinda giggle what do I do?

  26. My daughter is 15mths and has never bitten me until yesterday, she always been on demand. When she does it she looks at me and then bites looking for a reaction (its sore but not a really hard bite – yet). I don’t know what to do, she usually bf 5 times a day/night, I don’t want to wean her yet, she has never taken a bottle. Is this likely to be a faze or is she trying to wean? Im sure she knows what she is doing and I just need to work out why to fix it.

  27. Hi there,
    I need words of wisdom. My DD is 14.5 months old. We’ve had a beautiful bf relationship after a truly difficult time at the beginning, with baby losing weight, milk supply suffering, finally realzing a frenectomy would help, followed by craniosacral therapy, and lastly domperidone. We’ve worked so very hard for it and endured so much anguish and emotional roller coster. Suddenly this weekend, she bit me so hard (she’d bit before but not like this) and I reacted so poorly that I scared her. Plus my DH was there when it happened and his reaction was to pull on her shoulder to get her to release. It was terrible. Although it all happened in 1 second, her reaction was utter devastation. She sobbed liked I’d never heard before (she’s not a crier). Now, 1.5 days later, she still hasn’t latched back on. She cries and cries and puts her head in between my breasts and cries some more. She wails if I try to latch her. I’ve tried singing, soothing, rocking, pacing, expressing a bit and putting it on her lips. I’m a mess. Crying and feeling so helpless. I feel so terribly and inadequate. Do you have any advice? I’m just so heartbroken. I’m not ready to wean, and based on her crying, I don’t think she is either. How can I help her back to the breast?

    • My baby and I went through a nursing strike. He finally would nurse only laying down while sleepy after the 3rd day. The next day, he would nurse anytime, but ONLY laying down. Then, the next day… We were out running errands most of the day. I offered him to nurse when he was cranky, but he refused. He got cranky again, and I offered, and he latched and nursed sitting up. After that, it was right back to nursing as usual.

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