Does your baby bite you while breastfeeding? Here are 5 tips to work around the issue and continue to feed your baby. Read on to know how.
By Poongkodi Jose
Most mothers feel complete when they start breastfeeding their babies. They feel a sense of fulfilment while they feed the little one. The babies too love their feeding sessions, as they are held close to the heart that loves them immensely.
But, the breastfeeding journey has its ups and downs. As the baby grows, she starts teething and at times, may bite during breastfeeding. As a mother, it is important to know why your baby bites and work around a way that helps both you and baby to enjoy the breastfeeding session.
Baby is not comfortable: If the baby is having trouble latching on to the breast, she may bite as a result.
Dr Sonali Santhanam, Lactation Consultant, Motherhood Hospital, says, “Keep in mind that your baby didn’t bite during breastfeeding to hurt you intentionally. Sometimes, babies bite if there is any drop in milk supply and they feel that biting would make it better. The opposite could be true sometimes, some babies bite when there is too much of milk flow. If this happens, make sure to change your position so that your baby gets a steady flow of milk.”
Baby is teething: Teething often causes pain and fussiness in the baby, due to which the baby might bite.
Baby has cold/fever: When the baby is unwell with a cold or a fever, she might experience pain in the ears. This can also be a reason for him to bite.
Baby is distracted: When there is too much noise or light, the baby may get distracted and bite. Dr Sonali adds, "If the mother is distracted during nursing, some babies may bite to attract the attention of the mother. Keep your focus on your baby during nursing; this will also help in forming a bond."
Baby is not hungry: Force-feeding can also result in the baby biting. Dr Sonali adds, "If your baby bites you during breastfeeding, it could be a cue to stop feeding as she may not be hungry anymore. "
Baby is not getting enough: The baby may be very hungry but if the let-down is slow the baby might bite harder expecting more milk.
Baby is sleepy: When the baby falls asleep while feeding but is still latched on, remove them very cautiously, any sudden movement can make them bite you out of reflex.
Baby is being playful: Well she is just a baby. She loves playing and is completely unaware of the pain she is causing. So yes, your baby might bite you just for fun.
Read on to find five tips to prevent your baby from biting while breastfeeding.
Make sure to hold your baby closer to the breast, so that it is easier for them to latch on. Check if they have latched on properly as soon as you initiate the breastfeeding session. It is a good idea to keep the room free from bright lights or any noise. Check the room temperature. If it is too hot or cold, your baby is not going to like it! Playing some soft music during breastfeeding sessions can be helpful to both mum and baby.
It is quite natural that you scream or remove the breast quickly as a reflex action when your baby bites. As a result, the baby might be scared and might not want to continue with the breastfeeding. Take a break to calm down the baby. Distract her and when both of you are ready, start afresh. On the other hand, when you shout your baby might find it funny and want to bite you again and again to get that reaction. Either way, shouting is not a good idea!
Dr Sonali says, "Sometimes, babies may refuse to feed again if you shout at him for biting. The best way to put your message across is to stop nursing when your baby bites and say in clearly not to bite. You will be surprised to know but your 4–5 months old baby would understand."
It is understandable, that sometimes when you are planning to step out for a quick shopping or an important meeting you plan to feed the baby beforehand. But if she isn’t hungry she will not like you forcing it and might eventually bite. Figure out alternative solutions to such situations and work accordingly.
It might sound impossible to teach an infant anything! But you will not know unless you have tried it. When she bites, tell her “No biting” in a stern way without shouting and slowly remove your breast. Distract her by playing or singing her favourite rhymes and then start again after sometime. Have patience, your baby will eventually learn.
If you experience let down problems, before the feeding sessions try to massage the breast so that when you feed the baby she gets a good flow of milk. If the baby is teething, keep a teething toy in hand and offer it to her when she bites. So she will slowly learn that she has an alternative to bite on. Keep checking the baby and remove her from the breast before she falls asleep.
Here are some best latching positions to minimise biting:
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