Baby Bites During Breastfeeding? Here's How to Stop It

Ouch! A nip while nursing can hurt. Follow our expert's advice to teach your teething baby not to bite the breast that feeds him.
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Biting and nursing don't go together, but try telling an infant that. You might pull away every time he grips down and say "no" but then he's back to it again once the feeding session resumes. What's a mom to do? 

Babies start teething around 6 to 18 months of age, and they may refuse the bottle (and later, solid foods) around this time but 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, says Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., co-author of the Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth. 

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 babe 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," says Dr. McAllister. "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!

Learn when your baby's teeth may appear, and what to do if they cause discomfort coming in.

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