Baby Biting Nipples: How to Stop Breastfeeding Biting

    Updated 15 April 2020 |
    Published 19 June 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Dr. Anna Klepchukova, Intensive care medicine specialist, chief medical officer, Flo Health Inc., UK
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    At some point, most babies try biting nipples — usually when they’re 6 months old and teething. Although you might feel like a chewing toy, you'll be relieved to know that biting can be stopped with a little persistence on your end. Baby biting while nursing is a temporary issue that only lasts a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

    Why do babies bite mom’s nipples while breastfeeding? 

    We can’t blame moms for being apprehensive about their baby biting while nursing. No one wants to feel like a chewing toy, after all, and especially on such a delicate and sensitive part of the body. Knowing the reasons why your baby bites while nursing can help you avoid it and keep your nipples safe from baby teeth.

    Your baby is teething. When your baby reaches an age of 4 to 7 months, they’ll start showing signs of teething. As the first set of teeth comes in, your baby may be uncomfortable and cranky, and this is normal as the teeth grow and try to break through the gums. Just before the tooth comes through the gums, it may cause swelling and soreness. If you notice more baby biting while nursing during this time, it's likely due to your baby trying to relieve the pressure he or she feels on the gums.

    Your baby is bored. Sometimes, baby bites while nursing may be simply because your child is bored. They’re distracted by the world around them. You’ll notice that this usually happens when they’re near the end of a nursing session and aren’t as hungry anymore.

    Your baby wants more milk. It’s also possible that your baby is biting on your nipples because they want more milk. When your milk supply runs dry, the baby may bite and pull back, trying to get more milk from your breast.

    Your baby wants your attention. Some babies might bite on their mom’s nipples when they seek more attention. If they feel like you’re not giving them your full attention, they may start biting.

    Should you stop breastfeeding now that your baby has teeth? 

    When your baby gets teeth and starts biting, you’re likely going to be left wondering, should I stick with it?

    Most moms think that when their baby starts teething, the nursing relationship must come to an end. This is not true, and you don't necessarily need to stop breastfeeding your baby once they get teeth. Breast milk provides balanced nutrition for infants, and if your baby is nursing properly and the positioning is correct, you shouldn’t feel teeth or pain at any point.

    You’ll be relieved to know that many moms have survived this stage and continued to nurse their babies for weeks, months, and even years afterward. With a little bit of persistence and patience, your baby can be taught to stop biting. Keep in mind that not all babies react in the same way to a situation, and you may need to try different tactics for discouraging them before discovering one that works.

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    How to stop biting during breastfeeding   

    So, you want to keep breastfeeding, but your baby has begun to bite on your nipples. What can you do? Luckily, biting nipples is only temporary, and there are some steps you can take to teach your baby to stop biting.

    A word to the wise: you may need to try several different tactics to discover what works for your baby. Your baby’s age, temperament, and personality play a major role.

    If your baby is teething

    If your baby is teething, they’re likely more interested in relieving pain than breastfeeding. When this happens, offer them a teething toy or a breast milk popsicle to bite on instead of your nipples. This can help soothe their gums.

    If you feel your baby is experiencing a lot of pain, you may need to consult your pharmacist or health care provider for pain relief or a teething gel.

    If your baby is bored

    If your baby is distracted, you’ll know it — they’ll be rolling, wriggling, and pushing against you with their arms. When this happens, don’t force them to nurse. They’re simply not hungry or interested in nursing. Try nursing them in a quiet room, rocking, or lying down together to avoid too much stimulation and distraction. When a baby bites you, try to avoid a loud reaction. This may either frighten or amuse your baby, and he or she may try it again.

    If your baby wants more milk (or has already had enough)

    If your milk supply drops, your baby might bite while nursing because he or she wants more milk. Pregnancy while breastfeeding, medications and supplements, stress, and hormonal birth control methods can all negatively affect your milk supply. If you’re concerned about your milk supply, check in with your doctor to get expert advice.

    If your baby wants more attention

    If you’re having a problem with baby bites while nursing, try focusing your attention solely on your baby. Some babies bite for attention, so maintain eye contact while breastfeeding. Babies often draw their tongue backward to signal that they’re finished suckling. Keeping a close eye on your baby while nursing, and removing them as soon as they finish, can prevent a potential bite.

    Babies are not able to bite if they are breastfeeding correctly because the tongue is over the bottom gum (and teeth). Babies may bite when they are not actively feeding —  normally at the beginning or at the end of the feed, when you are most likely to not pay full attention to your baby.

    If your baby bites while nursing, avoid screaming or yelling. Control your emotions, take a deep breath, and cool down. Screaming or yelling won’t stop your baby from biting; on the contrary, it might cause more problems. Negative reinforcement is not an effective method of preventing your baby from biting while breastfeeding.

    If your baby bites down and doesn't want to let go, quickly place your finger between your baby’s gums so that you can pull him or her away from your nipples without an injury. If this doesn’t work, try pulling your baby toward you, closer to your breast. This will encourage your baby to open his or her mouth and uncover the nose to breathe. If the baby doesn't let go, you can try to break the suction by inserting your finger into the corner of their mouth. Do not pull. 

    Lastly, remember that baby biting while breastfeeding is only a temporary and a completely natural habit that can be stopped. However, if pain becomes an issue, check with your doctor and discuss possible ways to manage it.

    History of updates

    Current version (15 April 2020)

    Reviewed by Dr. Anna Klepchukova, Intensive care medicine specialist, chief medical officer, Flo Health Inc., UK

    Published (19 June 2019)

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