A baby may cause Mom some discomfort, if baby is teething and chewing on
Mom’s nipples for comfort and pain relief. Biting does not always indicate teething though, and that is the purpose of this page, to indicate some other possible reasons for biting.
Teething can start anytime in the first two years of baby’s life, but the most common time for babies to start teething is between the age of 5 and 8 months.
Other reasons why baby might be biting, other than teething:
• Baby is looking for attention from Mom. This is common if Mom works and is away from baby for long periods of time.
• Baby may bite if he/she picks up tension in mom or in their surroundings.
• Baby may bite to indicate to you that he/she has had enough to drink.
• Baby may bite if he/she is not interested in feeding at the moment.
• Baby may bite if he/she falls asleep at the breast and is startled awake, or if Mom tries to remove the breast while baby is sleeping.
So what are the symptoms of teething?
• Comfort feeding more than usual.
• Swollen and/or painful gums.
• Excessive drooling.
• Baby may have a diaper rash.
• Get baby an Amber teething necklace to calm baby and reduce pain.
Stay calm and try not make too much of a fuss when baby bites. If you
scream or push baby away from the breast, it may provoke baby to do the
same thing next time, just to get the same reaction or on the other hand
it could scare baby and cause a nursing strike.
• Talking to baby, making eye contact and touch, can prevent baby from seeking attention with a bite.
Do not pull baby away from the breast, this can hurt your nipples even
further, instead push baby closer to the breast when he/she bites, so
that his/her nose is closed, forcing baby to instantly let go of the
breast, and open the mouth for air.
• Try to recognise the
signs of when baby has lost interested in the breast during a feeding.
To take baby off the breast, before baby tries to bite.
If Mom can get a finger in-between the gums in the corner of baby’s
mouth to break the suction, it can help to get baby off of the breast,
without allowing baby to bite.
• Never try to force baby to breastfeed.
• A comfortable breastfeeding position is very important.
• Remove baby from the breast, when he/she falls asleep.
• Keep your milk supply plentiful by continuing to breastfeed at night and by breastfeeding on demand and with no other supplements given to baby.
• Try to breastfeed in a calm environment.
If my baby is teething, do I need to wean from breastfeeding?
It all comes down to personal choice. The best in my opinion is to allow baby to decide. Read more about the benefits of extended breastfeeding.
Tracy Behr, CBC, CLD (CBI)
Reference: Breastfeeding counselor course through childbirthinternational.com on the physiology of breastfeeding, breastfeeding problems, other problems / teething and biting.
Other pages on breastfeeding problems In connection with teething and biting.
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