The biting vampire baby!
We have all been there…for months you happily breastfeed your baby. Looking down at them lovingly while you sip on your tea and look at your IPhone.
Then it happens…out of the blue…CHOMP! YEOW!
Why is my beautiful little breastfeeder biting me?!
Does my baby want to wean?
For anyone who has had a little biter on their hands, they know what I am talking about. Thankfully there is some good news for the mum of a biting breastfeeding vampire baby, you can teach them that it is not OK. Not only that it’s not OK but it is totally not acceptable. Also, it’s not an indication that they want to wean, it’s just a completely normal behaviour that most every baby goes through. And if you have a cheeky little monkey like me, they will think it’s hilarious! I have some tips and suggestions to help you navigate this challenge…
1. Immediately take your baby off of the breast. You can do this safely (without tearing your nipple apart) by gently inserting your pinky finger into their mouth and unlatching them.
2. Say, “no!” calmly but firmly after you take them off.
3. Sit there with them off of your breast for about ten seconds saying “no” again before you put them back on.
4. Alternatively you can try a positive approach by giving them praise or extra cuddles when they breastfeeding without biting.
This will not work over night but eventually it will work! Patience and perseverance! Keep at it. Your baby (or toddler) will eventually realize that they will not get boob unless they stop biting!
*most importantly…your baby will change the way they are holding the nipple in their mouth or the way they are sucking right before they are about to bite. Many mums are able to preempt when their babies are about to bite and they can take them off before it actually happens. Pay close attention when they are breastfeeding.
So why do babies bite anyway?
There are many reasons why a baby might bite down on your nipple. *A baby who is actively breastfeeding cannot bite because your nipple will be all the way down the back of their throat. It is when your baby is not actively sucking and swallowing milk that the nipple will come forward and be in a place where they can bite. Pay attention to correct latch and take your baby off if they are clearly done or getting distracted*
The following are some possibilities as to why your baby is biting…
1. Teething. A baby who is teething is usually a baby who is uncomfortable or in pain. This pain is decreased when pressure is put on their gums. What is the most convenient and available teething toy for them? Your nipple of course! The perfect size and frequently in their mouths…have a snack, bite the nipple…
2. Fast flow. Sometimes a mum with an over-active let down or fast flow will notice their babies clamping down on their nipples to slow the flow down. You can take them off (follow suggestions above) and while they are off the breast, hand express some milk into a cup, bowl or face cloth until you notice the flow has slowed down. Click HERE for my instructional video on hand expression.
3. Baby has a cold or ear infection. A baby who is sick might be more likely to bite as they cannot breathe properly or are in pain. If your baby has a stuffy nose you can squirt your breastmilk up their nostrils to clear them (yes! Seriously! Click HERE to read more about breastmilk as medicine). You can also try holding your baby upright as you feed them. Click HERE to see my poster on different breastfeeding positions.
4. Baby is distracted or wants your attention. Sometimes your baby just wants you to pay attention to them! Or they are distracted and not really into breastfeeding at the moment. Try going into a quiet and/or dark room without distraction to see if that helps. You might also like to try breastfeeding them in a baby carrier. Click HERE to watch my video on how to breastfeed while “wearing” your baby.
I asked some of The Milk Meg’s Facebook “likers” to comment on how they stopped their babies from biting.
This is what they had to say…
“Unlatch, firmly say no and keep him off for a minute. My two year old was a biter but she learned if she wanted milk she couldn’t bite.” A.R.C.
“ I found that when my babies were bitting me it was because they had wind and when they did bite me I softly pushed them away and said no which gives them a little fright and they stop doing it.” Y.C.
“I either bring him close to breast and he lets go, or I break suction and take him off. He laughs when I say ‘no’, so that doesn’t work for me every time.” M.M
“Grin and bear it like I did! I took the boob away and said no booby if you bite mommy. She stopped pretty fast!” J.A.W.
“Make sure you have a proper latch… if they’re not on there right it will hurt no matter what. Then remove them if they do bite but don’t leave them off for too long -their associative memory is very short” J.P.
“I yelled so loudly when my baby bit me that he cried and was so scared, he never bit me again!” M.P.
“Unlatch, cover your boob firmly say no and wait for a minute. They quickly learn biting equals no boob and no boob is like the end of the world.” J.C.
“I always had my little finger just at the edge of her mouth so I could push it in and save my nipple.” J. P.
“Basics of attachment and make sure they latch correctly. I have problems if my daughter gets lazy with attachment.” A. C.
“I have a 1 year old biter with 4 teeth. When she bites, I detach and say ‘soft with mamma’. Then no boob for a few minutes. I used to say ‘no biting’ but she did not get it. Babies do not understand ‘no something’. They just hear ‘biting’. So I switched my phrase to something positive. Seems to work better. “ M.S.
“Pop the little finger in the side of the mouth where the cheek is near the breast and break the suction calmly say no bite mommy that hurts put the baby down a few seconds and try again on the other side if it happens again repeat with a longer break.” P.B.
“If you get cracked or injured nipples, squirt some milk out and rub it in… it does better than the cream and you won’t have mess… “ S.H.
Please leave a comment below if you have another suggestion, because none of us like being bitten!