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A Beginner's Guide to Discipline

Breast Biting

Biting during breastfeeding

This painful situation is most common when babies are 5 to 7 months old and begin to experience pre-teething gum pain. You are comfortably into a feeding, beginning to nod off, when suddenly your baby turns into Jaws, chomping down and transforming your tender nipple into a flesh-and-blood teething ring.

Even if your baby has no teeth, her gumming can cause you considerable discomfort. As you feel her gums begin to bear down, put your finger between them and your nipple or use your index finger to depress her lower jaw  -- a gentle reminder to respect the breast that feeds her. If she gets an attack of sore gums, give her your finger or a frozen teething ring to gnaw on instead.

If your baby already has teeth, the pain is much more intense. The natural inclination is to pull her away from your breast and scream "No!" But some babies become so rattled by their mother's harsh reaction that they stop breastfeeding for a few days (this is called a nursing strike).

Instead of the yank-and-yell response when she bites, do just the opposite of what instinct tells you  -- draw her closer into your breast. Because her nose will become covered, she'll automatically open her mouth to breathe, letting go of your nipple. Soon, your baby will realize that biting triggers an uncomfortable result and she'll adjust her behavior. Saying "No" or "Ouch, that hurts Mama!" is okay, too  -- she needs to learn that you don't like it when she bites. Just don't frighten her.