23 answers

Painful Nursing Baby with Teeth

My 11 month old got her top teeth in the last month. Since then she has bitten me a couple of times on the same breast. It has become so sore in the last few weeks, it almost brings tears to nurse on that side. Also almost draws blood. I hadn't planned to wean her yet. Suggestions on how to heal the (what feels like internal bruising) and resume in a less painful way?

What can I do next?

More Answers

OK, I just can NOT take reading this myth anymore!

Honey, you can try the nipple shields at BabiesRUs or Target while you're healing. Put your breastmilk on the broken skin, allow it to air dry. Also, you may use Lansinoh. Cold packs are nice, too. Someone said something about pumping, this isn't a bad idea, for a few times in a row rather than placing her on THAT breast you may like to pump and keep her on the OTHER breast.

AVOID CABBAGE unless you desire for your milk supply to dry up.

In general, babies only bite when they're done nursing (the session not for life)or if their gums hurt--they are not trying to be naughty. You will have success if you follow the advice of the several women prior who've told you to FIRMLY tell your wee one "NO!", hold your gaze for a good 10 seconds, put her down until your sure she's clear, then offer the other side.

Remember that whatever you consume your child will get, if you're eating good wholesome food it will be added to your milk, if you're also using supplements (I HIGHLY suggest doing that) it will be added to your milk, your milk has fats and amino acids specific to the two of you, and if you're body senses illness in your child your body will boost antibodies--though your child has her own immune system to rely upon, but any help is good...so ignore people who tell you there is no value to your breastmilk; it is absolutely UNTRUE!!

If you decide to end your breastfeeding relationship with your baby, you HAVE given her a great start at life and in America you've given her a substancially larger advantage than the average mother (which is approx. 3 months). At this point in her life her body is beginning to be able to process food to actually retreive nutrition from it...this ability solidifies after the first year.

Be assured your baby will NOT always bite you!

2 moms found this helpful

just a quick note--- breastmilk is the best thing for kids nutritionally. it is NOT less nutritious after year 1. sorry you were given some misinformation. also, red cabbage leaves are for pain and green are for engorgement, which is probably why they helped the one lady with weaning. using the red cabbage leaves will help with the pain. also, when my son got teeth (only a few months ago), i had to kinda "re-learn" nursing so that it would be better. You may want to contact your local LLL leader-- it was nice for me to get some advice and help on different nursing-- bc as i'm sure you've noticed, nursing a newborn is A LOT different than nursing an 11mo old. good luck!

The being firm with NO BITE is a miracle worker.
She at the year mark is at an age if you wanted to stop nursing she will be getting her nutrition from an outside source. If she continues I would consider weaning if it is to the point of that much pain.
I think that can be a sign they are ready to stop anyway. Start giving her a sippy with breast milk instead for another month or so then you can graduate to milk and a lot more solids. Yes, breast milk is great but to be honest at her age she will be fine without it!!! Both of my kids weaned early and are VERY HEALTHY AND SMART!
If you do not want to stop the breast milk try giving her it to her in another form like a sippy or strawed cup. A child should be eating real food by the year mark and getting what they need from that. If they are good eaters she will get what she needs out of solids after a year.

My last baby bit me and it got infected and turned into mastitis. If it feels like internal bruising, I would talk to a Doctor. Mastitis is HORRIBLE! Get checked to make sure it hasn't turned into that and then, if she bites, stop nursing that time. After a while she will realize if she bites she wont get fed, and babies know when to eat, she won't let herself starve. Good luck

It could be time to stop nursing. This is going to sound ridiculous but I had a similar issue and my grandmother told me to put cabbage leaves in my bra. It also helped enormously when I was weaning both my kids. I know it sounds stupid and I wouldn't do it outside of the house but it felt so much better. Keep the cabbage in the fridge, the colder the better. Weird but it worked for me.

I went through this same thing as well when my daughter was 9 months old and cutting the top teeth. It hurt and she did draw blood. We both cried and I was so worried that this was going to be the end of our nursing. My nipples were very sore, especially the one side that she seemed to chomp on the most. I tried telling her sternly, NO, but that really didn't work consistently. What really seemed to work was hugging her tight into my breast (basically cramming her face into it) so she had to release me to breathe. At the same time I calmly told her "No, no biting" and ended the nursing session at least for a little bit. It worked without allowing the teeth to scrape my tender skin and she wasn't totally freaked out about it at the same time. It only took a few times as well. in the meantime, I was very careful and watchful. Everytime it looked like she was going to bite (no tongue in place to create suction), I pulled her to me and said no.

Don't worry, you will be able to continue nursing AND relax while doing it in a very short while (even though it doesn't seem like it now).

Oh, as for healing, I constantly applied the nipple cream for the few short days it took to heal - and gritted my teeth through the pain otherwise :-)

And an additional note, my daughter still tests me. every once in awhile she may give me a little nibble. Usually it means she isn't hungry and we just end it there and don't push things. Just nurse at a later time. So after she learns not to bite, still pay attention!

My baby got teeth at 3 months and I nursed her until she was 13-months (by then, she had a mouthful of teeth). She bit me a few times, even drawing blood a few times, and the only thing that worked was involuntary screaming on my part, a harsh "NO!" and then ending the feeding. She would cry, but she stopped biting. I would even end the nursing session if she even started to "chew" a little bit.

I've heard cabbage leaves are good for healing, but I'm not sure if it will work for internal bruising. And I think you'll just have to nurse through the pain. Sorry I couldn't be of more help in that area.

Both of mine started getting teeth before 6 months and pretty much the same thing happened with both. They bit I screamed and nearly dropped them and the second time, I reacted strongly and said NO! and they didn't do it again. My daughter, a precocious child, would look up at me while nursing to see if I was looking, and would very carefully and delibrately, bite gently, I would give an exaggerated jump and say no and she would smile and go back to nursing. She was just checking to see it I was paying attention or if it was still not OK. Little ones can be smarter and more aware than you think, so let the baby know it's not ok - in an appropriate way, they'll "get it".

Crushed mullen leaf may help you heal, apply like a poltice. It reduces swelling and bruising - just wash well before you nurse.


This is a tough time. I agree that your daugter is not ready to wean. As far as the myth of the disappearing benefits of breastmilk, that is ridiculous, plain and simple. Not only has it never been sustantiated by medical fact, many studies show that the nutrients in milk actually increase after the first year. According to a 2001 study, "In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breastmilk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements " (Dewey 2001)

If you want to read more about the benefits and challenges of nursing a toddler, Kellymom.com has some great articles at
http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/index.html . Your local La Leche League meeting is also a great resource, and you should find several moms nursing older babies who can help there.

As far as your daughter biting, this is a very normal phase. It does not mean that she needs to wean. She may be teething and biting feels good to her. Make sure you end the nursing session when she is done actively nursing. I liked to have a teething toy available to offer my daughters. I would say "No biting," then set them on the floor and give them their teething toy. Then I would tell them "We don't bite Mommy. You can bite your toy."

She may be testing your boundaries. You don't have to scream or get angry. Just firmly say "No biting" and don't let her nurse for a little bit. How long depends on you. I would make my kids wait at least a couple minutes, but if they were really hungry I would feed them a couple minutes later.

She may have a poor latch. As my girls got older, I found that we were often lazy latchers. I assumed they knew what they were doing, and they tended to be more squirmy and wiggly while nursing. Whenever my nipples start getting sore, it is usually because my daughter isn't latched on properly. My oldest would often bite because she was slipping off the nipple, and she bit to try to grab a hold and get herself back on. Try to be really conscious of getting a proper latch and keeping it. As much as you can, don't let your daughter do acrobatic nursing, where she is standing or wiggling or trying to move or twist while nursing.

Teaching her not to bite might take a little while, but it will work. Pumping on the sore breast might help, but I wouldn't keep it up for long since it might decrease your milk supply. If she doesn't currently use a bottle, give her your pumped milk in a cup. You don't want to have to wean her off the bottle later. I wouldn't use cabbage, as that does dry up your milk, and it may not take 8 hours to affect your supply. You can use an icepack for the pain, or take a Tylenol or Advil. I bought some gel packs from Gerber that were boob shaped and helped with soreness. (http://tinyurl.com/55e7f8) Earth Mama*Angel Baby also makes BoobyTubes, which are gel-free and can be heated or chilled. (http://tinyurl.com/66sud3) Hang in there, and remember that this too will pass!

Best of luck,

As soon as she bites you --- pull her away and say "NO!" firmly and loudly. Stop feeding her immediately. Tell her "NO BITING! THAT HURTS MOMMY!" Take a timeout from breastfeeding. Try again later. You may have to repeat this several times before she learns the connection --- If I bite, I don't get to eat. I weaned both of my children at a year. One reason is that breastmilk isn't as nutritious after a year. Whole milk is better. The other reason is teeth. You've got to do what's best for you --- but you shouldn't have to be in pain.

you may want to consider hand expressing in the shower or something just for relief until you are healed. defintely not a great idea to wean while in pain, sudden weaning will cause even more trouble. moist wound healing, like using lansinoh, is the best way to let the healing work. lansinoh is safe for baby to nurse on without washing off first, so you can apply is several times a day. to keep up a milk supply on the injured side, you can try nursing baby on the non injured side first, until let down and then switching to the injured side once milk will flow more easily. i think it's awesome that you want to continue nursing. mine is 26 months and still nursing though we had a long period of biting. she may be teething, which sometimes changes the suck or makes them more chompy, look for signs on her face when you know she's about to bite and break the suction beforehand if possible. strong reactions are okay, to let her know she's hurt you, but sternly stating that she has hurt mommy and needs to stop nursing for a few minutes, is a great way to set some boundaries as well, breaking suction and then setting her on the floor for a few minutes will send the message. if she clamps down, push her face into your breast instead of pulling away, as the pulling will keep her clamped and tear on your nipple, pushing her face in will block her nose and make her let go. . . .i know that's a lot of info. i strongly believe in breastfeeding and want to share anything possible to help moms get through some of those more frustrating and sometimes painful times as baby learns and grows. . . . good luck!!!! i would also suggest a la leche league meeting or calling a leader to discuss other things that maybe i've missed. you can find numbers and email addresses for local leaders at llli.org

When my babies bit or acted like they were about to bite I would simply pull them in closer to the breast so that they had to open their mouths to breathe, it works instantly and is not startling or traumatic for the baby. If we had more than one biting attempt in a nursing session I would then take them off the breast and tell them "No biting, no more Bo" (their name for nursing) For sore nipple try a cool compress, a cold washcloth with crushed ice works well. This will reduce the inflamation and help you feel better. Good luck, I hope this helps!

My son bit me a couple of times. He is strong so it really made me nervous. He was overly tired and really stuffy once and the other time he was getting a tooth. I just make sure he isn’t overtired or hungry. If he is getting a tooth I will sometimes rub his gums, of course I and yelped and said No. I think he knows not to do it again and is careful. His twin sister has been good so far. She got me once but that was my fault. I had to pull her off before she was ready to stop and didn’t open her mouth enough. My older daughter bit me once to. I told her no and stopped feeding her and she did not do it again.

If she is biting, she is not actively nursing - she can't do both. I always decided that if my baby bits, she's not hungry. I ended the nursing immediately and wouldn't start again for at least 30 minutes no matter how grumpy she gets. The kids all figured it out and stopped biting when they wanted to eat.
When she does bite down, don't try to pull her off. The best thing I found was to pull baby in close to the breast so it is covering the nose. The baby will let go really quick to breathe. Then the nursing session is over.

I experienced something similar, but haven't drawn blood. Sounds pretty painful. What worked best for me is when the baby starts pulling away or losens the latch, shove the breast back into her throat which will force her to nurse naturally instead of "playing" and nipping on the nipple.

Make sure the area where she bit you doesn't become infected. THis exact thing happened to me when my son got his teeth, and I got two very bad infections that required antibiotics. The germs in the baby's mouth can infect the cut. I had to just stick it out and keep nursing, even though it was painful, because otherwise you can become engorged. Good luck. I hope she stops biting you!

Check Kellymom.com, they have a lot of great advice on nursing with teeth. My son only has bottom teeth, so I haven't really got any advice yet. Because you are so sore, however, I suspect that your nipple may be infected, in which case you really ought to see your doctor. I went through an agonizing case of subclinical (no fever) mastitis for over a month before I finally went to the doctor for it and took antibiotics. I'd had days where I couldn't even nurse my son because the pain was so bad. Good luck!

I have heard from many people to say no and take her off. Saying no really loud might make your baby think that it's a fun game, though. Say it in a normal voice. If your baby needs more, set her down on the ground when she does it.

I think continuing to nurse after a year can be important in the case of a picky eater. That way you are sure that your child is getting all the nutrition he/she needs.

From Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (by La Leche):
- Cabbage leaves are good for engorgement. Cut the rib out and a hole for the nipple. If used for more than 8 hours they affect the milk supply.
- Lansinoh brand Lanolin is good to heal nipples. Gently pat it on after every feeding; it doesn't need to be removed to nurse.

All 3 of my kids bit only once during nursing - I simply said NO firmly and gave them a little flick. I realize some people might not agree with that, but it worked for me.

Motherlove Nipple Cream is all natural and 100% organic (way better than Lansinoh) It will really help the healing process. www.motherlove.com Give it a try and good luck

J., I feel for you. My 12 month old daughter does the same thing, but it is only on my right side. I can't nurse her if I am sitting up or she will dig her teeth into my breast tissue. Put lots of lanolin on the affected area and just moved her to a new position on that side. I now only nurse her in the football hold (which can be a paid since she is so big) or laying down on that side. She isn't bitting on purpose, just the position causes the pain.

Good luck!

I feel your PAIN!!!! I have been going through the same thing with my 9 month old. Try to pay attention what is going on around when she bites you. I have found that mine will bite when she is wound up or if there are a lot of distractions around. So often times before I feed her I go somewhere that is quiet. I will have her suck on her binky for a minute and let her calm down before she eats. Sometimes I let her fall asleep and then try to feed her. If she bites I tell her NO firmly and stop feeding her. I will give her the binky back and tell her no biting. She is starting to figure out that there will be no breastfeeding if she bites, and is doing it less. The other thing that I have been doing is giving her pumped milk in bottles during the day, when she seems to want to bite more. Then I breast feed at night when things are more calm. As far as healing, some the lanolin ointment that you can get at any grocery works really well. Just reapply it several times a day. The baby can eat right off of the breast without wiping it off. Good luck!

Don't use cabbage leaves - they might dry you up. When your baby bites, break the suction (don't pull off, it will hurt more). Place your finger in her mouth and break the suction, then pull out. If you haven't screamed in pain, tell baby "NO" and don't nurse for a few minutes. You can also press her into your breast for a moment to get her to unlatch.
My daughter bit me when she didn't want to nurse (I overoffered). My son has bit me when he has something in his mouth (a Cheerio...).
You might also take inventory of her latch - if she is latched on correctly, taking a lot of your nipple in her mouth, her tongue should cover your nipple as she nurses. it does hurt for a few days, but it will go away!
Good luck and good for your for nursing so long!

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