As a new mother whose baby has started teething you are happy, very happy, until the day your baby decides to bite your nipple during a breastfeed. You do not have to stop breastfeeding because your baby bit you; it is just a temporary, albeit a bit painful, phase. Some people advocate that the breastfeeding mum should bite the baby in return but this old wife’s fable is superfluous; you would simply be causing your baby unnecessary pain. Also, if your baby becomes afraid of your reaction to him biting you, he may refuse to breastfeed.
Furthermore, lactation experts say your baby won’t bite if she is getting adequate supply of milk when she sucks and if she is breastfeeding correctly; that is, with her tongue over her bottom gum and any emerging teeth. If your baby does bite your nipple, it would be when she is not feeding actively such as when she is just beginning to latch on or is coming off your breast.
If you have a baby that bites during breastfeeding you should be try to do the following.
• Be attentive during breastfeeding
When you concentrate on your baby at the beginning of a breastfeed you will be able to help him attach properly, this will help stop him from biting. Do same for when he is coming off the breast.
– Wait for your baby’s mouth to open wide before getting him close to your breast can prevent him biting.
– Make eye contact with him as he feeds. If he has a mischievous look on or he seems to be playing, you could gently break suction and take him off your breast so he can play with his toys and not your nipple.
• Give him a Cooled Teething Ring before a Breastfeed
Get your teething baby a cold teething ring and let him gnaw his aching gums on it before you breastfeed him. This might stop him from biting your nipples.
– If your baby has really sore and painful gums from teething, consult your pharmacist for help.
• Remember to Apply the Basics of Positioning
If your baby’s top teeth have emerged, he is likely to sort of rest the top teeth on mummy’s breast while he feeds. This is not a bite in itself but some mothers can find this painful and the teeth may leave tiny indentations. If this happens, simply go back to the basics of positioning and attachment.
– Hold your baby in close, chest-to-chest. Wait for his wide open mouth and as you hug him on to your breast, aim for your nipple to be pointing toward the roof of his mouth.
– When your baby attaches in this way, his neck will be tipped back and his chin will be tucked into your breast while his nose will be free. This lessens his tendency to rest his top teeth on your breast.
• Breastfeed Away From Distractions
From when they are about 3 months old, many babies get distracted by what is going on around them when they feed.
– Feeding away from distractions can help you and your baby to fully focus on breastfeeding.
– Your baby is more likely to attach properly, actively feed and come off when he is done.
In conclusion, if your baby bites while feeding, gently break suction, look him in the eyes and firmly tell him “No”. Do not shout as he may think it is some sort of ‘Peek-a-boo’ game and won’t see that you are serious. Remember to get first aid for your nipple; put a few drops of expressed breast-milk on it, air it and change your breast pad regularly.