When your baby starts pinching or biting while nursing, it can make breastfeeding very frustrating. You may find yourself dreading nursing sessions instead of enjoying that peaceful, bonding moment that it once was. I’m currently facing this issue with Littlest, so I’d like to share with you 5 tips that I use daily to prevent my baby from biting and pinching while breastfeeding.
When my 8 month old gets bored or impatient at the breast, he likes to bite and pinch me. It’s painful! And it’s incredibly hard to resist the urge for self defense. But teeth do not mean that you need to wean a baby off the breast and there are ways to move through and past the biting stage.
Latching and Suckling is instinctual – Engage those instincts
If I can just get my baby to put his mouth on autopilot, I know he’ll nurse just fine. The urge to latch and suck properly is instinctual in babies, even at the teething stage. All I need to do is engage these instincts while simultaneously distracting his other instinct: curiosity. Sounds simple enough, but I know it’s a challenge. I’ve found a few things that work for us and they may work for you too.
1. Be sure baby is hungry
By now, solids are likely a part of your routine. Biting was rarely an issue for me before we started solids at 6 months, and has increased its frequency since. To avoid painful biting and pinching at the breast, ensure baby nurses before all solid meals. Your baby’s primary source of nutrition is still breastmilk until age one, and so you need to be sure he or she is getting plenty of it by prioritizing nursing over solids. A hungry baby is more likely to engage his latch and suck instinct. If baby is squirming and wriggling, he might not be hungry enough to nurse- so just play for a bit and try again after 10-15 minutes.
2. Boredom is painful
Giving something for your baby to hold or fidget with after he gets latched on can make a world of difference at this stage. Anything that is easily reached and consistently accessible to my nursling is a great buffer for boredom. I allow my baby to play with the strings on my hoodie, or the teething/sensory necklace that I often wear. We babywear and so a teething/sensory necklace is not an uncommon accessory for me, but any small toy could work. Letting him hold my wiggling fingers is a last resort as well- I just have to remember not to do anything funny because if he smiles or laughs, he breaks his latch and then OUCH.
3. Provide access to teething relief
Many times a baby is biting at the breast because he is teething and in pain. Providing a teething toy, wash cloth or the like can help give baby some relief. He may not be interested in nursing until some of that pain subsides with coldness or pressure, so try again later.
4. Stay on top of your supply
Encourage a faster let down and give baby easier access to milk by staying hydrated, eating properly and being mindful during nursing. The quicker that milk is getting into your baby, the less chance of baby experiencing boredom or frustration. Sometimes this is easier said than done for moms struggling with milk supply. Talk to a lactation consultant or doctor about ways you can increase your milk supply safely, if that’s an issue for you.
5. Be consistent and firm
If nothing is working to distract your baby from biting, then you may need to end the nursing session. My baby thinks it’s hilarious if I react loudly to a bite or pinch, and so I can’t give him the satisfaction of freaking out. My oldest got so scared when I screamed one time that he didn’t nurse for an entire day out of fear- so I’ve tried to control my reactions (no small feat, I know it hurts!). I just calmly say “No biting” and put my breast away. Our day goes on until we try again later. He eventually gets the message that biting mommy means no more boob.
Share these tips with other moms
We are not alone, our babies aren’t the only ones pinching and biting while nursing. Be somebody’s hero and help them have a pain free (or at least less painful) day! Share this article on social media using our Icon Share Bar, or pin it to pinterest it using the specially sized graphic below. Thank you for your support!