A friend recently asked me how to deal with nursing a teething baby. I’ve been through it once so far and anticipate going through it again within the next few months. Biting hurts, but it hurts even more when it’s on your boob. It’s hard to get the point across to a baby who doesn’t even really understand language yet that biting is not acceptable. It’s hard not to yell or react physically. It’s hard to continue nursing knowing that it could happen again at any moment. It’s hard, but using simple and consistent words, not raising your voice or startling your child, and staying relaxed are all important to maintaining a healthy and stress-free nursing relationship.
I know a few mamas who have scared their children by having a big, loud reaction to the bite. It’s painful and surprising, so who wouldn’t automatically react that way. However, this type of reaction has the potential to damage a nursing relationship or trigger a nursing strike.
I’m certainly no expert. I’m just a mama who has nursed… a lot. One quick trick might be to have your child chew on a cold teething toy or washcloth before your nursing session to help numb the gums a bit. My best recommendation for anyone in this situation is to immediately unlatch your child, be calm but firm, and tell him/her in simple words that biting means no milk. Cover up your breast and say something like “Ouch, biting hurts Mama,” or “We don’t bite.” After this, move on from the incident and continue nursing.
If by chance the biting continues, repeat the same phrase then end the nursing session for the time being. Play, cuddle, or distract however you can. Hopefully, your child will start to understand that the milk goes away when he/she bites. It might take a few times, but the child should eventually start to learn and adjust his/her behavior.
Biting bites! Just be calm and patient and know that this too shall pass.