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Don't Bite The Breast That Feeds You!

breastfeeding jacksonville florida

Don't Bite The Breast That Feeds You! Oh, sweet baby, I remember a time when you were all snuggles, snorts, grunts, and smiles. A time when you nursed at my breast and looked up at me with comfort, peace, and love in your eyes. My little milk drunk monkey. Where have those sweet breastfeeding sessions gone? It seems lately all you want to do it stretch my nipple like it's a piece of elastic, scratch like a cat being bathed, or bite me. Why?!

The days of newborn challenges have ended and a new day has dawned. This new biting while breastfeeding stage happens to most, but not all moms who nurse their babies. The good news is that more times than not, babies respond well to positive reinforcement. So, my #1 suggestion to get baby to stop this biting the breast behavior, is to immediately remove him from your breast, let him know that hurts by saying "ouch", or "that hurts", and firmly, but gently telling him "no, no". Give him a few moments and then tell him "you don't bite mommy, if you bite mommy we stop nursing", then try again and remind him no biting.

This takes time, be consistent, don't give up! Avoid laughing or yelling. Laughing will likely encourage this behavior, not break him of it. Yelling, if it can be helped, should be avoided because it scares baby and is not positive reinforcement. There are a few known reasons for why babies bite the breast that feeds them and none include training to be an Olympic gold medalist for longest bite held! I compiled a list of the top 3 reasons why babies do this and some things you can try that have been effective for myself and other moms.

Reason #1:  Your baby could be teething. If your baby is teething, he/she is likely biting to deal with discomfort. You can try giving teething tablets or using Oragel, and also giving a cold teething toy or frozen breastmilk pop before your nursing session so baby's discomfort is lowered before you begin.

Reason #2: Your baby could be doing it for attention. If so, it's important to focus your attention on your baby; don't get distracted. Talk, sing, or just look at him. This time is not only for nourishing his body but also a time to bond, to connect with him emotionally. If he continues, remove him from the breast, tell him "biting hurts", and end the nursing session for a short time. This should get your point across. Consistency matters, repeat and it's likely your baby will get the idea!

Reason #3: Your baby might be distracted. Awe yes-he's tired, cranky, clingy, and appears to want to breastfeed, but as soon as you have him in your arms he wants to look everywhere else and then the 'bite the nipple' fest begins. If this happens, it's likely your little one is nursing for comfort.  Remove him from your breast and tell him firmly "NO biting mama!" Then take your baby to a distraction-free zone if you think he'd still like to nurse. A quiet room lying down or rocking will likely do the trick. If he continues, remember consistently remove him, "tell him, no, no, that hurts," and repeat!

These last few tips come from years of combined breastfeeding experience from moms all over the world. Have you ever had your nipple bitten down so hard that you thought you were nursing an alligator snapping turtle, then you will understand how one could use these tips. If you've never experienced this horrific sensation, I hope you never do! If you ever find yourself doing battle with an alligator snapper baby who is surely trying to remove your nipple from your breast you can;

  1. place your finger in between your baby's gums to make space to squeeze your nipple out in one piece.

  2. blow in your baby's face. Sometimes that is just enough to get them to release.

  3. push your baby's face momentarily into your breast just long enough so that he or she has to release your nipple in order to breath.

Remember, positive and consistent. Breastfeeding benefits both you and your baby and you do not have to be a chew toy. This is a stage and this stage shall pass too, just as the newborn stage has come and gone.

Hang in there ladies-you are amazing!

Happy Birth & Parenting!


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