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Biting OUCH

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  • Biting OUCH

    So my dd is almost 4mos old. She's been clamping down since she was born on my nipple but now that she's getting older it hurts a lot more. (She usually does it when she's frustrated) I've tried pulling her off and saying in a forceful tone NO or OUCH! But it comes across as she's not even listening. I have a naughty cat i'm always hollering at. But i've tried using a pointed finger to let her know i'm talking to her. Any suggestions? Is she still to young?

  • #2
    Biting Ouch

    Hi SmurfSammy.

    My almost 10 month old would often do the clamp down and stretch of the neck, it definitely gets your attention. I found on an earlier posting that the LLL suggested when they clamp or bite down to gently press their face into the breast (just enough to close the nose) and due to not being able to breathe they will release. I remember when I read it that it did not seem to sit well with me but it worked (had to do it on two occasions) and he hasn't clamped down since. Which I am very thankful for because now he has teeth.

    I hope that helps.


    • #3
      Ouch, biting hurts! Your right, at 4 months old she does not comprehend what she is doing is hurting her mama. A bite from your baby can be truly painful, and worse, it keeps you tense in the fear that it will happen again. It's hard to relax and enjoy breastfeeding when your baby has bitten you. While your sweet baby is too young to understand exactly what you say, but your tone and attitude do convey meaning. It's worth telling your baby, even repeatedly, that biting hurts and that he cannot bite you. Some alternatives mothers have used include:

      * Offer a teething ring and say gently in a calm voice, "ouch, mommy is not for biting. You can bite this instead (offer frozen banana, frozen washcloth, etc)."
      * Allow your baby to choose when to breastfeed. If baby is distracted and pulling off frequently, either try breastfeeding in a darkened room or begin a new activity with baby.

      There are many reasons for a baby's biting, but the most common one is teething. Sometimes babies bite before their first teeth come in, but usually it's after the front teeth are in and the others are working their way down those hot, sore gums.

      Other reasons could be a cold or an ear infection (it's hard for your baby to swallow while breastfeeding if his nose is blocked), stress, or sometimes a baby who clamps down during nursing is asking for his mother's attention. Mothers may often find that they can read, talk on the phone, or watch television while their baby nurses and these activities are fine in moderation. Touching, talking, and making eye contact let your baby know he has your full attention. Being alert helps you notice when your baby is losing interest in nursing.

      Offering artificial nipples or pacifiers can also contribute to biting. The mouth and tongue movements a baby uses while breastfeeding are very different from those used with artificial nipples. A baby may become confused about how to suck and start to chew at the breast rather than latching on correctly.

      Here are some ideas to help reduce and eliminate biting. Remember: this may take persistence on your part. Your baby may not stop biting immediately but "this too shall pass."

      * When your baby is latched on correctly and nursing actively, getting milk from your breast and swallowing, it's physically impossible to bite. This is because your baby needs to stop sucking in order to bite. When latched on properly and nursing, your nipple is far back in your baby's mouth. In order to bite your baby has to adjust his tongue and allow your nipple to slide forward towards his teeth. So, as a first "hint" of when your baby is about to bite, try and watch for a moment--usually after the initial hunger has been satisfied--when your nipple slips forward in your baby's mouth. Often the tension in your baby's jaw will change just before this happens.
      * As soon as you notice this change, slip your finger into the corner of your baby's mouth, between his teeth, and let the nipple come out all the while keeping your finger in your baby's mouth to protect your nipple. Pulling your baby straight off is a very natural and almost automatic response, but it may cause soreness on your nipple.
      * Baby's position is important, and that means helping your baby stay in a close breastfeeding position, so that he doesn't or can't pull off very easily. If your baby has to strain to latch on, then he will come off and chew the nipple easily. Therefore, another response to biting that some mothers have found useful is to pull baby in closer to the breast, at least momentarily. If your baby begins to position himself away from your nipple, be alert for a possible bite.
      * When the cause of the problem is a cold, a more upright position can help your baby to breathe easier. Check with your baby's health care provider for suggestions to relieve stuffiness. Your baby may breastfeed better if you offer the breast while walking.

      Think of it this way an enthusiastic toddler may step on your toes or knock his head against yours while giving you a hug, but that won't make you stop hugging him. You'll just take care to protect your toes and your head. The same can be true of your nipples. Paying attention to your baby's cues is the first step in protecting yourself.

      Good luck, this will pass with patience, persistence, thoughtful observation, and sensitivity to your babe's feelings!

      Happy nursing,