This is a very common reason for weaning. Baby gets the first tooth, gets a bit bitey, hurts Mum and Mum decides enough is enough. Time to wean. What many mothers don’t realise is that this is usually a problem that comes and goes within a few days. Baby’s with teeth don’t necessarily bite, it is usually only just as they are coming through. Having said this, I think it is important to acknowledge that it really, really hurts when a baby with new teeth decides to try them out on your nipples. It can also become a game or a habit, so it is important to think about how you are going to deal with the situation when it arises and to be prepared with an action plan which will keep the biting to a minimum so that it really does come and go quickly with a minimum of fuss allowing you and your baby to continue to breastfeed for as long as you are both
Here are some suggestions which may help to reduce biting:
Have an appropriate reaction. If it hurts, say “Ouch”, loudly! Slip a finger into the mouth to break the seal. Once you’ve rescued your nipple, watch your baby’s face. Some sensitive babies will cry at this kind of reaction. If your baby becomes upset, calm your baby and start the breastfeed again. If the baby bites again, react the same way. Eventually, your baby will associate biting with an undesirable reaction and will stop biting.
End the breastfeed. If your baby bites and you prematurely end the feeding, the baby associates biting with the end of the breastfeed, this may be the deterrent your baby needs to never try it again.
Pull baby close. This is a tough one because it is so counterintuitive but it works a treat. Instead of crying in pain and pulling the baby away, you can pull the baby close in to the breast as soon as you feel the teeth coming in for a chomp. The baby will immediately let go in order to open her mouth more and uncover the nose to breathe. After you do this a few times your baby will realize that biting triggers this uncomfortable response and will probably stop biting. Remember, your goal is to discourage her from biting, not to cause fear.
Keep a finger close by. Once you know your baby is in the biting phase, keep a finger in the corner of her mouth, ready to break the suction if you feel a bite coming on.
Take your baby off the breast and onto the floor. After a little time you can pick your baby up and try again. Try this with firmness and authority rather than anger and your baby should make the connection between biting and being down.
Provide an alternative. Teething creates the urge to chomp, and anything that goes into the mouth is fair game. Keep some teething toys in the fridge, or try some cold carrot or apple, and give your baby another way to deal with the urge. If you know from experience that biting comes at the end of the breastfeed, you can try taking your baby off the breast just before you think the feed is finished and give an chewing substitute.
See ‘Teething‘ for homeopathic remedies and other natural solutions to help your baby through this time.