Babies Hate Biting

Before I began breastfeeding, I heard about babies biting their mother’s nipples. I found this to be quite disturbing. I had no idea how to handle it but figured it would be something that would end our breastfeeding relationship. However, after an induced labor and episiotomy I no longer seriously feared that sort of pain. And after a difficult time getting started with breastfeeding I knew nothing would stop me from breastfeeding, not even bleeding nipples.

Around 3 months Jack started to do the gummy tug-o-war with my nipple. I related this to teething and his desire to bite and move his mouth. Since he had no teeth it didn’t seriously hurt and certainly didn’t draw any blood. Jack didn’t get any teeth until about 11 months. Then one day he bit me. 2 teeth on the top and 2 teeth on the bottom. Bit me. It hurt. He didn’t draw blood, but I was scared. I looked down at him with his teeth clenched around my nipple. Oh, man, the power. I was at his mercy. It reminded me of the time at my old job with aggressive teenagers when a girl bit another girl’s girls nipple off. Yes, off. Clean off her body. They couldn’t find it. There was some rumor that it fell down the vent in the girls’ room, but who knows. That incident from 3 years ago was all I could think about. I yelled “ouch!” He let go and started to cry. I comforted him and made sure not to make him feel rejected. I had some feeling that he didn’t mean to be doing what he was doing. He latched on again and bit me again. I yelled “ouch!” again and he let go and began to cry.

I picked him up and carried him into the other room where my husband was. I said, “He bit me.” My husband said, “Yeah, I heard. It sounds like no one is happy about this.” That statement forever changed me. My husband has always had this talent of being able to see things from Jack’s perspective. Even better than I ever could. It hadn’t occurred to me that Jack was actually terrified about what he was doing. I was so wrapped up in the “oh my god, here we are, in the biting phase that I have heard so much about.” I didn’t stop to think about what was going on for Jack. He didn’t want to bite me. He didn’t want to hurt me. He was actually very upset that he himself was inflicting pain on me. He is so upset by it that if I don’t handle this correctly, if I reject him or lose my shit, I might induce a nursing strike. Jack will go to any length not to hurt me. If he thinks he truly can’t help it then he will not even latch at all in an effort to avoid inflicting the pain on me.

I do my best now to calmly say, “Ouch, that hurts Mama,” but I continue to nurse him. I am lucky in that he has not done this often and has never drawn blood. I get an overwhelming amount of comments on my Facebook page about Moms being bit by their babies until they bleed. My heart goes out to you! I hope the information in this article by Anne Smith, IBCLC can help you, Teething and Biting. As well as The Badass Breastfeeder’s protocol for biting.

Abby Theuring, MSW

About Abby Theuring

The Badass Breastfeeder is a mother, writer, social worker, attachment parent, proud breastfeeder and advocate. Her career as a social worker has shown her that gentle and connected parenting is vital for life-long emotional health. You can find her blog at www.thebadassbreastfeeder.com and Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TheBadassBreastfeeder.

Check Also

Natural remedies for yeast infections while breastfeeding

Ask Anne… Question: My baby is three months old and is exclusively breastfed. Recently, I developed …

7 comments

  1. The other thing to think about is that biting is a non-verbal baby’s way of saying no. Finding out the reason he is saying no really helps to stop the behaviour. Often it’s at the end of the feed when they are not hungry and are playing (so watch for the sucking to stop and take them straight off). The other reason I find that’s really common is mums offering the breast to a schedule that an older baby is growing out of. Or still offering quite frequently when baby is trying to drop a feed.

  2. I have a 13 month old girl. And my experience has been better than most I’d say. She is a fairly considerate nurser. The only times she has ever bitten me have been in her sleep. Gums hurt more than teeth, I find. She got her first 8 teeth all in between 8-10 months. One a week. I was also lucky in that teething didn’t bother her as much as it does for most other babies. She just drooled a lot, got fussed here and there. I feel pretty blessed. I will pass along this article to other nursing mamas I know. Thanks!

  3. i would just pump a few bottles and then feed baby boettld breastmilk at night. formula will keep your baby alive but it is not healthy for a baby, so if you can breastfeed and get away from it stay away from it, besides your milk tastes good and formula is gross so the chances your baby will take formula at night aren’t very good. I will tell you though that it is really easy to snuggle baby in bed and lay your boob out and the baby will learn to latch on by itself and you can just roll over and switch when your other breast gets heavy. It is so easy. I have done this with 4 children and no one has ever had to get up with the baby. Once the baby doesnt need to eat at night, we put the baby to bed it his/her own crib. Daddy can take his turn feeding breastmilk out of a bottle during the day and I think that you will find that if you do NOT supplement with a bottle that you will have plenty of milk, however, if you supplement you will start having problems keeping up, especially in the beginning. Dr.s and WIC dont suggest you pump until baby is 6weeks old and your milk supply have been established. If you need more information, check out, Lalecheleague.org. Goodluck and Congratulations on choosing the best for your baby!

  4. Oh, your post brings back memories! lol I breastfed four out of my five babies and my youngest daughter used to get a huge kick out of biting me and making me shriek. She would be nursing along, calmly and contentedly and out of the blue CHOMP!. Looking right into my eyes with a grin on her face and not letting go for the life of her while giggling uncontrollably. Maybe my little one was abnormal, but she DID like to bite, lol!

  5. Why is it better to restrict their airflow then to tell them no and momentarily cut them off? Not trying to be confrontational; I have just never understood this. (My son went through a gumming phase and then a short biting phase. Now he only bites in his sleep. I am fairly sure that at 14 months, developmentally he has no concept of my ability to feel pain.)

  6. I nursed all 3 of my kids. I was very young with my eldest. But, my 2 boys, 2 & 10 were both biters. I stuck it out for about 2 months, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I stopped w/ my first son at 8mo. & my second son at 11 mo. They both drew blood several times. We co sleep, so it would happen when I wasn’t expecting it. I had to stop. Made me so sad. We’re planning on making another baby soon. So I love reading your comments. Maybe I can figure something out with the next one, if that baby is a biter. I’d watch his mouth & I could usually tell when he was going to bite. But it became very frustrating & I lost the enjoyment, because I was scared.

  7. I have found that the best and most gentle way to help them learn not to bite, is to not yell, and immediately pull them in close so their nose is smashed against my breast and they let go to breathe. If this happens every single time they bite, they will soon stop biting. Biting=No Air=Bad for Babycakes!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.