Hi, I’m Alissa Pemberton. I’m a lactation consultant and holistic sleep coach. I’m going to share with you some of the common issues that I come across around breastfeeding and my top tips to help.
A lot of moms worry that when their baby gets teeth, that’s the end of breastfeeding and it really doesn’t have to be. It can feel quite scary, the thought of your baby biting while they’re feeding, but most times it’s transient and it’s very easily dealt with.
The most common time for your baby to start biting is when they’re teething. Now this might be when they’re getting their first teeth through, or it might be when they’ve already got some teeth and there’s more on the way. And they’re feeling in pain and uncomfortable, their instinct is to bite for comfort.
Sometimes you will also find that babies will bite it when they’re fussing at the breast. And this is quite common if the milk isn’t flowing quickly enough for them, or if for some reason, you’ve had a bit of a transient dip in your milk supply, and they’re just fussing because there’s not enough there.
So if your baby’s biting because they’re teething, firstly, you want to make sure you’re managing that teething pain. So use your normal analgesia, give them other things that they can bite and hold teething toys work well using something like a flannel or a face washer soaked in water or chamomile tea and popped in the fridge is a really nice thing for them to buy it on.
And any time that they do bite while they’re feeding, how you react is really important. So you want to try and stay calm. Pop your finger in their mouth to break their latch, take them off. And even with the youngest babies, you can make it very clear to them and say, don’t bite. That hurts mommy. And then offer them the option of latching back on again.
If they’re continually biting, then I’d say, take them off and give them an alternative of something that they can bite. And also give them some analgesia just to try and keep them comfortable.
Generally, this will only last for a couple of days while that tooth is moving around and once that pain subsides, the biting should subside as well. But it’s really important to not react too loudly or not do anything to frighten your baby when they bite you as much as it might be painful for you because this can scare them and can send them down the path of going on a feeding strike.
If your baby isn’t teething, it might be that they’re biting because they’re fussing about the milk flow. This might happen right at the beginning of a feed. If you haven’t quite had a let down yet, and that milk isn’t flowing for them, or it might happen towards the end of a feed when the breast is getting emptier and that milk flow slows down.
For both of these things, what you can really easily do is do some breast compressions. So while your baby is feeding, you can use your hand in a C shape around the widest part of your breast and compress your breast, hold firmly for about 10 seconds, release and repeat. Doing this compression or doing some massage around your breasts while they’re feeding will help to encourage that, let down and help to increase the milk flow and might stop your baby biting because they’re fussing.
If your baby’s biting you, they’re not latched onto the breast properly. When they’re latched on their tongue will extend over their lower gum and it will stop them from actually closing their jaw. So if they do bite, it’s always worth taking them off the breast and then latching them on again, that reset will often get them to move their tongue and it will stop them from being in that position where they can actually bite.
Biting is generally a very transient thing, whether it’s a developmental phase or whether it’s to do with teething. So don’t think for a second that that’s the end of you being able to breastfeed.
If you can manage teething pain, if you can get to the bottom of any other issues that might be causing that fussiness, you will generally find that that phase of biting will finish and then it won’t be a problem after that.