Teething and Biting

The baby may cause a mother some discomfort, if he/she is teething. He/she might be chewing on the mother’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 during the first two years of a baby’s life, but the most common time for a baby to start teething, is between 5 and 8 months.

Other Reasons why a Baby might be Biting, other than Teething

  • The baby has a clenching response. Read more about latching, tongue and sucking problems. 
  • The baby is looking for attention from Mom. This is common, if the mother works and is away from her baby for long periods of time. 
  • The baby may bite if he/she picks up any tension in the mother or in their surroundings. 
  • Your baby may bite to indicate to you that he/she has had enough to drink. 
  • Your baby may bite if he/she is not interested in feeding at the moment. 
  • Your baby may bite if he/she falls asleep at the breast and is startled awake, or if you try to remove the breast, while your baby is sleeping. 
  • A baby may bite if the mother’s milk supply is low or if her milk let down reflex is slow (slow flow of milk) This may frustrate the baby. 

So what are the Symptoms of Teething? 

  • Comfort feeding more than usual. 
  • Swollen and/or painful gums. 
  • Fever.
  • Excessive drooling. 
  • The baby may have a diaper rash. 

Other symptoms mentioned here. 

So what can you do to Avoid Biting? 

  • Read more specific teething remedies here. 
  • Get your baby an Amber teething necklace to calm and reduce pain. 
  • Stay calm and try not make too much of a fuss when your baby bites. If you scream or push your baby away from the breast, it may provoke your baby to do the same thing next time, just to get the same reaction, or on the other hand it could scare your baby and cause a nursing strike
  • Talking to your baby, making eye contact and touch, can prevent your baby from seeking attention with a bite during feedings. 
  • Do not pull your baby away from the breast, this can hurt your nipples even further, instead push your baby closer to the breast, so that his/her nose is closed, forcing your baby to instantly let go of the breast, and open the mouth for air. 
  • Try to recognise the signs of lost interested in the breast, during a feeding. Its best to take your baby off the breast, before he/she tries to bite. 
  • If you can get a finger in-between the gums in the corner of your baby’s mouth to break the suction, it can help to get your baby off of the breast, without allowing your baby to bite. 
  • Never try to force your baby to breastfeed. 
  • A comfortable breastfeeding position is very important. 
  • Remove your 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 your baby. 
  • Try to breastfeed in a calm environment. 

If my Baby is Teething, Should I Stop Breastfeeding? 

Teething and Biting & 
How to make Breastfeeding a Little Easier

  • Use a nipple shield while breastfeeding, to allow your nipples time to heal. 
  • Use a good lanolin breast and nipple cream. Lanolin will help to heal your nipples quickly. 
  • If your baby is teething. Offer your little one a breast milk lolly just before a breastfeeding session. The cold lolly will deaden the gums and the breast milk contains natural pain relieving substances. 

5 Tips on Stopping Biting during Breastfeeding

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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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