22 answers

Biting While Breastfeeding

My 7 month old recently started biting when he begins to breastfeed. He made me bleed one night. My breasts are sore, but I do not want to stop breastfeeding yet. Does anyone have any advice?

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I too had the same issue with my daughter. I've heard some Mom's flick their baby's nose lightly every time they bite. I couldn't bring myself to do that. I just pulled her off after she bite and after 2 longs painful months, she quit.
I hope this helps. I know how painful it is.
Debbie

He is probably teething. My son started getting his first teeth at three months, and used them! Try putting teething medicine on his gums (or teeth, if he has any) prior to feeding him. Hope this helps!

More Answers

With my daughter, I my loud "ouch" was plenty to get her to let go. I was able to nurse her until she was 15 months old (and I was pregnant with my son.) With my now 8 month old son, I've had to pull him into my breast until he lets go. It cuts off his airways for a second or two until he releases. It sounds terrible, but they get the idea after a few times. I actually read that in a breastfeeding book, and it's the only thing that worked for him. Good luck!

My daughter was a biter too. I would just tell her "no" in a firm voice and pull her off. It took a little while for her to realize this meant no biting, but she eventually stopped biting.
Hope this helps.

He is probably teething. My son started getting his first teeth at three months, and used them! Try putting teething medicine on his gums (or teeth, if he has any) prior to feeding him. Hope this helps!

My pediatrician told me that when my son bit me, immediately remove him from the breast, firmly tell him no, and do not let him nurse for at least 2-3 hours. If he does it again, do the same thing again. He will not starve, and he will get the message that biting while nursing is not acceptable. I only had to do it once, and he never bit me again!

Since he now has teeth, maybe it is time for a sippy cup or formula. Not a good idea to be bleeding in the breast area.

J.,

I have done many different things when each of my three children began biting. With son #1 I ignored him; daughter was flicked, once accidentally in the eye, and had a three day nursing strike; son #2 is still nursing at 28 months and hasn't bitten yet.

The experienced La Leche League women I know all use ignoring or pulling the baby in to the breast 'til they can't breath and let go. There have been others who have had to wean preschoolers who began biting just for meanness. At seven months that's not his problem but later on it might be.

K.

Hi, J.,
This happened to me with my first child when she started teething and I stopped nursing, sooner than I wanted. I learned with my second child to gently squeeze her arm when she would bite down (the biting is soothing to their teething gums) and she learned not to bite. hang in there!
A.

He's exploring his new teeth. First of all, try not to shriek, no matter how much it hurts, because that can make nursing scary for him and it can start a nursing strike.

Dr. & Martha Sears write, in The Baby Book: "when you sense baby's teeth coming down to bite, draw her way in CLOSE to your breast, and she will automatically let go in order to open her mouth more and uncover her nose to breathe. Don't try to disengage yourself from the clenched teeth.... Keep a log of what triggers the biting and when she bites. Biting can be baby's way of teloling your she's finished eating. If she chomps at the end of a feeding, interrupt the feeding before she has a chance to bite. Teething can also create the urge to chomp. Keep some teething toys in the freezer, such as a frozen banana or a cold washcloth, and let her chomp on these before or at the end of a feeding."

Hang in there! You'll do great!
L.

Stop feeding him and say "No!" Wait a minute before starting to feed him again. Do it every time he bites you. He's very young, but he will get the idea after a few times. You can't let him keep doing this.

When this happened with my son, A lactation consultant recommended that I pull him in very closely to the breast for a couple of seconds.
Sounds a bit harsh but she said, "they'd rather breathe than bite." Well, a couple of seconds is all it took.... no more biting.

Hope it works for you and you won't need to stop breastfeeding until you are both ready.

I too had the same issue with my daughter. I've heard some Mom's flick their baby's nose lightly every time they bite. I couldn't bring myself to do that. I just pulled her off after she bite and after 2 longs painful months, she quit.
I hope this helps. I know how painful it is.
Debbie

I have breastfed 3 babies and am currently breastfeeding a 3 month old, that has not started biting YET!!! When my other 3 bit me, I pinched them with my fingernails on the fatty part of the upper thigh. I only had to do it a couple of times. They equated the pinching sensation with them biting, kind of a cause and effect kind of thing. I know it sounds hard to do, but you should not have to do it too much to get the message across.

When my daughter bit me while breastfeeding, I immediately took her off the breast and sat her on the floor. I only had to do this maybe 3 times before she stopped biting. Hope this helps.

My daughter bit me a few times, too, and it surprised the heck out of me! All of the stuff I read on it said when the do bite, DON'T pull out right away. Instinct will tell him to bite harder. When he bites, pull him in for just a few moments, closer to your breast (where he can't breath, but just for a few moments!). He will let go then, and then pull him away, telling him no. I did that for a few times with her, and it worked great. I was even able to breastfeed her well into the 11th month, and she had a full set of teeth by then. Don't give up! I absolutely loved nursing my kids!

My son started doing this at around the same age too. Whenever he would bite, I would immediately take him off of the breast and say no biting in a firm voice. I would hold him for a few seconds before letting him start to nurse again. That worked for a while, then he started biting again, just to test me. Then I would flick his mouth, tell him no biting, and put him down for a minute or two. Then I would let him nurse again. That did the trick pretty well. As he got closer to a year, his teeth didn't allow much room, so it felt like he was biting every time he nursed, even though he didn't mean to. At that point, I went to pumping exclusively for about a month until I finally weaned him the rest of the way off. Maybe one of these things will work for you. Good luck, I know it is very painful!

My son is just about 7 months old and he tried biting when he was 5 months old. It only happened twice. Both times, As soon as he bit down, I yelled NO! And quickly pulled him off and looked directly at him and said OWIE, (or whatever word you use for "it hurts". I then put away his most prized posession and waited about 5-10 minutes before nursing him again. He was startled and he did cry for a moment but once he understood that it hurt me and that action would get the breast taken away from him, he stopped. No problems since then. Good luck with your little guy!

Jean,
Both of mine did that. My son tried out his new teeth and got a swift pop on the behind, he stopped. My daughter tryed out her new teth and got a pop then she bit down hard breaking the skin and was given a slightly harder pop on her behind, she pulled back cryed and went to do it again and I raised my hand and she never did it again. Keep in mine they do have dippers on so the bottom was padded. I did not pop them where it would even leave a red mark or anything like that.

H.

Does he take a pacifier? If he doesn't you might consider giving him one I know when I was breatfeeding my lil girl would just chew on me when I fed her the dr said that she wasn't that hungry and that she wants something to chew on so I gave in to a pacifier with my other two children I didn't believe in those things but she gave me blood blisters which for the healing process theres medicine that you can use that won't hurt your child so that you can still breast feed that will heal & make you feel better. I would let him have a pacifier or a cool teething ring before you breast feed maybe thats all you need to do I hope this will help I feel for you & I can relate. Hugs, K.

I've heard of saying "no" in a very stern voice immediately after they bite you. The stern-ness in your voice will help them identify that biting you is a "no-no" I've also heard of flicking their noses (not hard) but just enough to scare them so they will associate the discomfort from a flick with the biting they just did. Or, if you want him to still get breastmilk but can't get him to stop biting, you could pump and give him breastmilk from the bottle. Good luck! I know biting hurts! I've got a 2 and a half year old little girl I nursed for 6 months and I'm currently nursing an almost 4 month old precious baby boy!

My scream of pain was usually shocking enough to my infants that they didn't repeat, but if they did, I ended the nursing session - set them down and walked away for a few minutes. They are smart enough to get it. Don't give up, this should pass quickly.

When my son started doing this I just took him off and looked at him and said in a really firm voice, no biting. I would wait a minute and put him back on. I just repeated the same thing everytime he did it.

He is 11 months now and every once in awhile he'll look up at me and "pretend" to bite with a smile on his face. I just say no biting and he giggles and then goes on about his eating.

I have found that he has done it more when he was really just done eating and was playing or using me as a pacifier. If he continued doing it over and over again and I thought he probably had enough to last him awhile, I would just end the feeding session.

Both of my boys bit me at abaout hte same age. It was such a painful surprise that I popped them on the mouth. It shocked us both. They never did it again. Of course I'm not recommending you do this but i did it as a reflex and it worked. So if you can think of something unpleasant to do immediately when they do this- sort of like training a dog- then that might work but don't give up. We lasted almost 16 months and one of my boys has never missed school (he's 14 now) because his immune system is so healthly.
Good luck

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