The first year of a baby’s life is a roller coaster filled with excitement and full of challenges. One of these challenges breastfeeding mothers often encounter is baby biting while nursing.
The paradox is that precisely the moment everything has started working out well – you have overcome the initial difficulties and have managed to establish a fixed nursing routine, your baby’s first teeth appear and then you have to face a new challenge: biting.
The main problem is that teething babies use the nipple as a teether to relieve the irritation they feel in the gums, which not only hurts but often causes wounds. Some mothers feel that the moment that happens, it’s time to stop breastfeeding and move to bottle feeding. That is far from being true. There are practical ways to help you solve the problem of baby biting while nursing.
Here is what you can do
1) Prevention – Usually babies bite towards the end of the meal when they are not hungry anymore and therefore don’t focus on eating. It is best to monitor your baby’s behavior during breastfeeding and break off just when the biting starts.
2) Conveying a message – You ought to convey a message that baby biting while nursing is unacceptable. Of course, you can’t really “educate” an infant, but you can signal that biting won’t be tolerated. The moment your baby is biting, you will need to stop nursing and close your shirt. Gradually the message will pass on and your baby will most likely cease biting or at least do it less.
It is important that you be assertive but not aggressive – don’t get confused between the two. Being aggressive and raising your voice at your baby may scare her and cause her to refuse to breastfeed later on. Convey your message gently with love but without compromising. After all, breastfeeding is an amazing experience both for you and for your baby. So you should feel comfortable as well.
3) Distraction – Try to distract your baby from your nipple by offering her substitutes. Teething babies need something to bite on, so instead of your nipple give your little one a teether, preferably a couple of minutes before you nurse her. There are teeters of all types and sizes you can purchase online or in any baby shop.
4) Vying for your attention – It’s not rare that baby biting while nursing is nothing more than an attempt to draw your attention when you are on the phone, watching TV, talking to someone, etc. You may discover that paying full attention to your baby may cause biting to be much less frequent.
How to heal a wounded nipple
Baby biting may wound your nipple. Apart from the discomfort this wound will cause you, it may get infected and prevent you from breastfeeding. You can expedite the healing of your nipple by doing the following:
1) Consult your doctor to make sure the wound is a result of biting and not other things (such as fungal infection) that will require different treatment.
2) Silicone nipple shields will reduce pain while breastfeeding. Make sure the shields fit the shape and size of your nipple.
3) Wear breastfeeding pads when you are not nursing. These pads will provide the wound with the best healing environment.
4) Antibiotic creams will help the wound heal faster and prevent infection. Most recommended is Mupirocin ointment. But you will need your doctor to prescribe it for you. Remember to wash your nipple well before you nurse.
5) Mothers who suffer from baby biting while nursing are recommended using ointments that contain lanolin. These ointments prevent the wound in the nipple from drying out, and so they can relieve pain and accelerate healing.