Breastfeeding can be a wonderful experience. Especially after baby and you both get in the groove, and things start feeling more natural. But then, BAM… baby starts cutting teeth, and you’re ready to throw in the towel again.
Don’t give up hope yet. Here are some helpful tips to get your little piranha to stop chomping. Taking preventative measures can mean that you avoid the problem all together, or speed through this phase unfazed.
Check Your Latch: If babe is latched properly, their tongue should be positioned between their chompers and your breast while feeding. If your latch is proper, and babe is still managing to bite, they are likely doing so at the beginning of a feed, or the end, when they aren’t truly latched on.
Get a Grip on Teething: If babe is experiencing discomfort as a result of teething, they may be biting because it feels nice on their hurting gums. Again – think prevention. If feeds remain relatively scheduled, plan ahead and offer something soothing for their gums before the feed begins. A chilled teething ring, or a munch mitt are popular choices. Or my personal fave – a chew bead necklace, like my personal fave from Sawdust & Sprout. Offering something to chew on before a feed may offer some relief that they otherwise would look for using your breast. Another popular choice is a homeopathic agent, such as Punkin Butt Teething Oil. It uses chamomile, clove, and peppermint to naturally numb and soothe babies hurting gums and has been a real life saver in our house!
Learn Baby’s Biting Habits: People love to focus on altering Mom’s reaction after the bite occurs, but I’d rather focus on learning ways to avoid the problem all together. Is your baby biting at a certain point of the feed? Altering how you latch baby, and when you unlatch them may be a simple fix. Changing baby’s position while starting the feed could be enough to distract them from sneaking a nibble in. Are they maybe biting out of distraction or boredom? If they are easily distracted, try nursing in a low stimulus, dim lit room. If boredom is the culprit, here is another perfect use for the teething necklace. Wearing it around your neck while your little one feeds offers them something to play with, or even just look at. If you learn when to anticipate the bites, it makes it much easier to stop it before it happens.
Remember, This Too Shall Pass…
What to Do When Babe Does Bite: Let your little one know they hurt you. Even young babies understand when you’re displeased. Then end the nursing session immediately. Stopping the feed helps to instill the understanding of natural consequences for your little one – biting mom means no more milk. I recommend waiting a period of time before offering the breast again.
Biting is just a phase, and thankfully, a short lived one for most. Hopefully these tips will help you breeze through this period of development, and keep you enjoying breastfeeding a while longer.