24 answers

Chewing While Breastfeeding

I have always heard people say that they quit breastfeeding because their baby got teeth. I don't want that to happen to me. I have a 7 1/2 month old and she doesn't have teeth yet, but she seems to be "chewing" on my breasts while she's nursing. She sucks, and then chews, sucks and then chews. It is really hard for me to say "no biting" because by the time I say "no biting" she is back to sucking again. I am incredibly sore, but refuse to give up. I am worried that once she has teeth, she is going to be used to nursing in this way, and then it will really hurt, which could cause me to quit. I feel bad taking her off, because I don't want her to be fussy and hungry, and is she really going to know that's the reason I'm taking her off? Also, any tips for sore nipples? I am currently using Lansinoh. HELP!!!!

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This is more common than you think. I breastfed all my five children, and still breastfeed my baby boy (5 mos.). The thing is some babies do bite, and some stop "chewing" when they get their teeth. All of mine went through that and stopped when their teeth broke through. Just try to be patient. Hope things work out!

When my son started getting teeth (not very long ago) it was not a problem until his top teeth started coming in. When he would bite I tried not to make a big reaction or to startle him. I simply broke the seal said no biting (like he can really understand me) then I would wait a minute and put him back on. Once he did it again I broke the seal and said no biting but stopped the feeding. It only took a few times of this and he didn't bite me anymore. As far as the soreness you can get those little gel packs (you can find them by the breastfeeding supplies. Those work wonders! Good luck!
L.

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My daughter is 15 months and we are still nursing with 8 teeth. When she would pinch my nipple with her tooth, I would pop her off the breast, and gently say "no biting" and then return her, if she did it again, the same thing. Eventually she realized that biting=no milk.
A lot of people were still shocked (in my family) that I was still breastfeeding after teeth.

This is more common than you think. I breastfed all my five children, and still breastfeed my baby boy (5 mos.). The thing is some babies do bite, and some stop "chewing" when they get their teeth. All of mine went through that and stopped when their teeth broke through. Just try to be patient. Hope things work out!

When my son started getting teeth (not very long ago) it was not a problem until his top teeth started coming in. When he would bite I tried not to make a big reaction or to startle him. I simply broke the seal said no biting (like he can really understand me) then I would wait a minute and put him back on. Once he did it again I broke the seal and said no biting but stopped the feeding. It only took a few times of this and he didn't bite me anymore. As far as the soreness you can get those little gel packs (you can find them by the breastfeeding supplies. Those work wonders! Good luck!
L.

For sore nipples, as directed by a sister in law who nursed and later a LLL consultant, make some iced tea but dont throw out the tea bags. When the baby is done nursing place the tea bags on the nipples for a few minutes. This helps dry the nipple surface and prevent chaffing with your bra. The LLL consultant also suggested to stop washing my nipples with soap and to air dry as often as possible. I dont know which of these helped most, but I followed all instructions.

My oldest broke four teeth by three months. He would do just as you described until one day there was a tooth and it hurt! I was surprised and "wow" came out of my mouth-not a yell, but a started reaction. He didnt like that reaction so he let go. I put him down and checked to see if any skin was broken (it hurt that bad) and no skin was broken.

I smiled and offered the other breast and he looked at me smiled and bit again. This time, I put him down and waited for him to cry for the breast. About fifteen minutes later he was hungry crying and I put him back on the breast. No biting.

He would bite at other feedings, but I would tell him I didnt like being bit (he was only 3 months old) and I would remove him and wait for his hunger cry. The biting soon stopped and he nursed until he was nearly two years old.

Hope this helps,
M.

She needs immediate feedback.

When she nips give her a quick flick on the cheek - not hard or anything - like when you flick an ant off your desk and it lands still alive? Sort of like that. Blowing a short burst of air can have the same effect.

It is an immediate and physical feedback that says "don't do that". They understand it. :-) Took my son one day to get it down and my daughter one week - meh *shrug* Every child is different.

A. <><

C.,
About soreness - I found Lansinoh and pure lanolin never helped me much. I ended up using a natural balm from Earth Mama Angel Baby called Nipple Butter (you can order it online - or a number of different boutiques sell it).
I especially liked it because I was working full time and pumped several times a day - which can sometimes be worse than 7 month old teeth. :-)
~C.

I don't mean to sound like chicken little "the sky is going to fall"!!! But my mom told me 25 years ago not to breast feed. She breast fed my sister and i guess she got teeth and my sister nearly bit my mom's nipple off! Now maybe this is really rare! I don't know i took her advise and did not breast feed. Sorry i know i probably did scare you! I say ask your doctor! He probably knows a lot more about it than i do.

I breastfed all four of my daughters. 2 of them past age 2 and never was bit once. I believe it was because when this happened (bearing down/chewing) I took them off my brest for a minute or two. When your hungry that is not a good thing to a baby. I believe they quickly associated their behavior of bearing down with not being allowed to eat. Good luck, breastfeeding is the best gift you can give your baby. Also find a La Leche league nearby. They were my lifeline while nursing

You do want to break her of this habit, but there's no reason to stop breastfeeding when she gets teeth. My baby (8.5 months)also started biting just prior to and after getting her teeth. When she was teething on me I just took her off and said "No." and put her down. When she cried I picked her up again to nurse her again and if she did the same thing again, I did that. It took about a day for it to work. Then when she got teeth two weeks ago (the two bottom) she tried it again. "no" and putting her down seemed to work great. After half a day or a day of this she never tried it again!

S. (mom to four girls, two exclusively breast fed.)

I breastfed each of my children to 2 - so I do feel your pain.

1. Only nurse when she's hungry.
2. If she's teething (which if she's chewing indiscriminately she likely is), give her a teething ring to get her gums numb before you start.
3. Make absolutely CERTAIN she is latched on correctly (mouth wide open, tongue over lower gums, lips turned out). It's harder for them to bite you in this position.

*hugs*
S.

the chewing is probably b/c your baby is teething! You might not see any other signs, and the teeth may still be far up in the gums, but they may be shifting up in there and the chewing is comforting/feels good!

Try pushing the baby's mouth/head INTO your breast when she does this! I used this technigue with my son b/c he started teething at 2.5 mos(yes, under 3 mos old), was not a very good eater, and I didn't want to pull him off nor had the heart to "yell" at him at such a young age!
You can teach her, by pushing her into the breast, that this does not work for you! Also, if she is chewing, she is not getting anything out of your breast b/c she already broke suction!

Best of luck!
My son is now 7 mos with 5 teeth and I am still (somewhat) nursing even though he is still somewhat biting!

T.

For sore nipples I used lanolin cream in a tube. I just put a little on, and my body heat kind of 'melted' it or warmed it enough to spread on. It's kind of thick. I have 5 children, and my second daughter was the one I breast fed the longest-10 months, and stopped abruptly once she bit my nipple half-way, and it bled and I was terrified to try anymore. If you think she is actually 'chewing' and not reflexing, and you are scared of the same thing, then you could gradually start weaning her now, before she get's a tooth. Many mothers go on and breastfeed longer, that's a choice, but I will tell you I breastfed all my children from 8 weeks to 10 months, and not one of them went hungry once they were off the breast. The only thing I learned with my youngest son when he was fussy after the formula transition was that he found it hard to digest the formula powder, and once changed to concentrate he was fine. Also, a breastfed baby will not be lactose intolerant and not need special formula if they tolerated the breastmilk, because breastmilk has lactose. A misconception many mothers believe when thier baby get's fussy because of gas. My youngest baby is now 2 1/2. I weaned her from breast to bottle simply because I was exhausted with it,and had 4 other children to tend to, and she did just fine with it. Just use your judgement and what works best for you, your daughter won't know otherwise. You can still hold, cuddle and nurture your child while feeding her a bottle of formula. Think of adoptive mothers, or mother's who didn't have any milk(like my sister), are they less of mother's or are thier children deprived b/c they had a bottle instead of breast? No. And, formula today is very nutritious and very similar to breastmilk. Don't worry, it's what makes you comfortable that matters. She will thrive.

First, the sore nipples issue - When I was nursing my oldest my nipples became unbearably chaffed and sore. My doctor told me to stop using any kind of soap on them! Just wash with a warm wash cloth and use a tiny bit of natural Lanolin (available everywhere) immediately after nursing. Within a couple of days all the redness and soreness was gone! Secondly, the biting issue - just use action consequence with her and she'll stop chewing immediately. When my girls bit down, I pulled back and said no. Just a couple of times and they stopped. You can't reason with her, but she'll associate biting with no milk. They have the whole world to teeth on, no reason to sacrifice your nipples to the ordeal! Good luck!

HI! I didn't read all the other responces, so this is probably a repeat. Your daughter might be teething a little and that is why she's chewing. Or she might not be very hungry. My son would bite when he was playing and this was not fun. He thought it was so funny if I said "oww!" so as best you can make our response to biting boring so to say. He would bite on accident sometimes if he was getting ahead of himself by going too fast. If she bites, just detach her and wait a second and start again. If she's playing, just stop. As for the teeth, I never noticed a difference (except when he did bite of course!). I just stopped nursing almost a month ago and he had 1 teeth at the time! Good luck! Keep using the Lansinoh and make sure your bras and shirts are soft.

I have had this issue with both of my girls and just recently with my 7 month old. She was biting me with teeth and it HURTS! Her grip was so tight I could not release her with my fingers. I gently pushed her face into my breast (so she couldn't breath). I know it sounds barbaric but it works. She let go almost instantly every time. I had to do it for about 2 or 3 days and now she doesn't bite me anymore while nursing. I also did this with my now 2 year old and I also had great results with it. I don't believe in actually taking them off to quit feeding them. You can't make meal time a punishment for them. I also used Lansinoh when I had a lot of problems with my nipples and that plus breast pads worked wonders! Good luck and don't give up on nursing IF that is what you really want to do!

I agree with the others either pull her off and say no firmly when she begins to bite or push her in a bit. It won't hurt her although she may cry a second b/c it might startle her.
She will learn quickly enough not to do that. I had a nursing consultant tell me that chewing and sucking require different motions. So normally I just took my babies off for a short while when they started doing that. Sometimes I would give them a wet rag to chew on a bit which seemed to help.
I am currently nursing my 3rd baby who is 9 months and has 2 teeth. My first 2 I nursed for about 15 months each. You can nurse as long as you want without having to be in pain.

Anything that makes it difficult (or even dangerous) for you to nurse should be corrected... If your daughter is chewing, than she is done nursing. Sounds as if she's just playing with her "food" and when she's done nursing take her off the breast, and really try to correct the chewing.
If your nipple gets raw or there is an open sore, you could easily and quickly develop mastitis.
Women who stop nursing just b/c their child sprouted teeth are just looking for an excuse to stop nursing. A correct latch does not involve teeth. If everyone stopped nursing b/c their infant had teeth, people would not nurse the recommended two years (by the World Health Organization, the AAP says one year).
You should talk to a doc, even your breastfeeding friendly pediatrician and have some antibiotic ointment (mupricin is the one that comes to mind) on hand to put on your nipples in case they are cracked or have sores.
Good luck.

My daughter got her first 2 teeth when she was 4 1/2 months old and I nursed her until she weaned herself at 10 months. There is no reason you can't breastfeed a baby with teeth. When she chews or bites, take her off the breast and tell her "no biting". This may take a few days, but it will work. Also, you may try giving her a teether when she does that so that she knows what is appropriate to chew on and what isn't.

I used Lanolin in a tube for sore nipples. It worked well for me. Best of luck to you! Don't give up!

It seems there is a good consensus of ideas here re the rationale for her intermittant "chewing". I agree with the ideas on prevention. Keeping your finger near her chin, pushing her closer to the breast, trying to sit her up in your lap and let her lean forward to nurse changing the position that she approachs the breast in, all of these may help a little. I use a medical grade herbal product called calendula for nipple discomfort instead of lanolin. It has a mild antiinflammatory action and emolient properties. You can get it at The Nestingplace. It really seems to help and is soothing during application as well, never leaving a sticky residue.
K. (RN & IBCLC)@ The Nestingplace

When my baby went through that phase, I would remove her from the breast the instant she started to chew. She got the idea really fast. She is now 13 months old and has 8 teeth and nurses with no trouble.

I got this technique from a lactaction consultant and it works GREAT if you are consistent.
First time she bites, take her off the breast, try to look her in the eye and said "Ow, that hurts Mommy." Put her back on the breast and if it happens again, repeat the action and statement. Third offence, take her off the breast and say "Owch, that hurts Mommy," and stop nursing for at least 15 minutes. The point is to associate biting (or chewing) with a negative action, something they don't want to happen.
Also, a baby who bites or fiddles around is usually done nursing so she might already be full.
Good luck with continued nursing!

Mine did that from birth. I popped his cheek--had my hand right there ready for it. After a few pops he quit. He would try again the next day and we would do it over. Apparently it is like some people have habits of twisting their hair or clicking their fingers. It is just a habit and he needs to learn now that it is not a good one. ;-)

I also had a small rubber nipple cover that I used for awhile with one of them when I got too sore. It is like a bottle nipple, but made for breast feeding.

I breastfed my daughter until she was 13 months old and I was worried about the teeth thing too but when my daughter would bite down I would remove her from the breast and she quickly learned that wasn't acceptable and it wasn't before long when we didn't have any problems. As for the sore nipples, I used the Lansinoh after every feeding for awhile and I also put some of the breastmilk on them also (I have NO idea why it worked but it was recommended to me and it worked for me). Hope thie helps and good luck!

These are all great responses that you have gotten. I wanted to also tell you an option that most women don't think about. If you can't break your baby of the bitting issue why not pump your breast milk and give it to her in a bottle? I have been doing this since my son was about 1 month old, he is now 13 months. She would be able to still get your wonderful breast milk but you could save your nipples. :)

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