Q: He really just wants to gnaw at something but at the same time he's famished and frustrated. He hates the bottle, so it's up to me. I've given him teething toys but he hasn't mastered them yet. I stop every time he bites and say "no no" while tapping his lips. He just looks at me and waits for me to give it back then does it again. Suggestions?
A: Ouch! It hurts when babies bite. Babies have to learn that biting and nursing just don't go together. You're off to a good start teaching your son this important lesson by gently tapping his lips and telling him not to bite the breast that feeds him.
Babies bite while nursing for several reasons. In addition to teething, they might bite because they've found that it gets your attention in a hurry. Babies love to look into their mothers' eyes while they're nursing, and you've turned your attention elsewhere for a moment, your son might nip to bring your gaze back to meet his. Sometimes babies bite when they've satisfied their hunger and they don't really want more milk, but they don't want to leave the breast, either.
Babies can't bite while they're properly latched on to the breast and actively nursing, because the tongue covers the bottom teeth. As long as your son is actively nursing, you're safe from a nip, but as soon as he unlatches and starts to nibble, you might try ending the nursing session, at least for a few minutes. While you're taking a break, you can remind him not to bite Mommy, and offer him a cool teething ring to gnaw on instead. That way he'll come to associate biting with the teething ring, as well as an interruption in his meal. Good thing babies are so smart—they figure this out pretty quickly!