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Some people believe that when baby starts to bite during breastfeeding, that the nursing stage has ended and it’s time to wean. That’s definitely not the case. Some families successfully breasted up to two and three years old. A baby with teeth is certainly capable of breastfeeding, but mom and baby may have to make some adjustments.
Not all babies bite regularly, but it’ll probably happen at least once. It’s usually a temporary issue. Here’s what you can do to discourage it…
It’s impossible to bite with the right latch – When your baby is latched on properly, the nipple is far back in his mouth. He would have to pull his tongue back to get his teeth at your nipple. Watch for signs of him repositioning his mouth to bite.
Use your finger to break the latch – When your baby is ready to unlatch, gently slide your finger between his teeth/gums to hold a bit of space for your nipple to come out so you aren’t bitten.
Look for distraction- If something is distracting your baby, don’t force him to nurse. If he’s rolling, wiggling, or pushing off you, he may not be hungry or ready. An unwilling baby may bite.
Some babies bite for attention – Your baby may bite you to get a response from you if he feels like you aren’t giving him the attention he wants. Give him some attention if you think it will help.
Use positive reinforcement – When your baby makes a comfortable, effective latch, give lots of positive reinforcement. Praise his good job and speak lovingly.
Look for signs of boredom – A bored baby who isn’t hungry anymore may bite because he’s not thinking about his feeding. If he’s teething he may start focusing on that and your breast is right there.
DON’T use gels or lotions on your nipples or areola – These can slightly numb the area to reduce pain, but they also numb your baby’s mouth and tongue, making nursing harder.
What to do when baby bites
The pull-off-and-down technique – When baby bites, immediately remove him from your breast and set him down. You want to signal that biting ends the nursing session. Children older than seven or eight months can make the association. Wait at least a few minutes to make your point, then you can continue nursing if your child likes.
Don’t give a reaction – If your baby bites you, it’s important to not cry out or yell in pain. Your baby may enjoy the ability to cause a reaction in you. He doesn’t understand you’re in pain, but he may enjoy his new ability.
Offer something to chew on – Most of the time, biting during nursing is because of teething. If you think your baby only wants to nurse to chew on something, offer a cold teething toy to help their discomfort. If it’s really bad, consider acetaminophen, but always speak with your doctor first.
How did you stop your baby from biting?
Written by Melissa LaHann, Founder and CEO of Happy Fig, LLC
Like many moms before her, Melissa cradled her hungry, crying baby as she clumsily adjusted her bra and sat uncomfortably holding up her shirt. Before she knew it, her baby was squirming, her shirt was falling, and the nursing session was interrupted. She needed a better solution, so she created LatchPal, the first nursing clip of its kind.
LatchPal is a breastfeeding shirt clip that holds up a mother’s shirt during breastfeeding. It eliminates shirt re-positioning and feeding disruptions, and helps a mom nurse hands-free in comfort to maximize milk flow. LatchPal was designed with moms in mind. The multi-use solution only requires one hand to latch. It’s a must-have breastfeeding accessory and essential for post-partum moms, pumping moms, and nursing in public.
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