Teeth are made for biting, and it’s natural that your child is likely to want to test out their new chompers on any surface they can find. The trouble arises when mommy is the teething surface, or worse, other people.
It is very normal for a newly teething infant to test out their teeth on the breast, on fingers, on any surface that makes it’s way into their mouths. However, it’s not exactly pleasant for the “bitee”
Most children will grow out of the “toof testing” phase on their own – however, if you want to gently encourage your child to stop using you as a human chew toy, you can try the following:
How To Stop Biting While Breastfeeding
Understand why your child is biting. Sometimes it’s out of boredom, sometimes it’s out of impatience for let down, sometimes it’s because they’re teething and their gums hurt. Sometimes it’s because they’ve finished, and are just playing at the breast. If you can preempt the situations where your child will bite you, you can mostly avoid the nips.
Biting will generally come as a shock to a mother, and our natural reaction can be to yelp, or jump. Sometimes this is enough to discourage biting.
Some mothers have told me that the fright from Mom yelping was enough to start a “nursing strike” where the baby would refuse to breastfeed. If this does happen to you – persevere gently, patiently, and soothingly with your child, reassuring them with lots of snuggles, and eye contact that mommy loves them very much, and that it’s safe and OK to breastfeed.
While it hurts, try not to get angry, or impatient with your baby. This will only exacerbate the situation.
Say ouch, gently remove the breast, make eye contact and say “Mommy’s aren’t for biting, please feed gently” (or something to that effect)
If your baby is teething, you can offer them a teething toy, try an amber necklace (to wear, not to chew on) offer a cool wet flannel to chew on, or a carrot to gnaw on.
How To Stop A Toddler Biting:
If your toddler is a biter, the situation is a little different. Toddlers may bite for several reasons:
- It feels nice
- To assert control over their environment
- To gain the attention of a parent
- As a means of communicating
- To cause pain
None of the above reasons mean that your child is “naughty” or wrong – however their behavior is clearly something that isn’t socially acceptable.
Strategies that you can try to assist your little one to find better ways to use their teeth are:
- Verbally explain that biting hurts, and it’s not nice to make people hurt.
- Give them the attention they are seeking
- Explain to your little one that you would never let anyone hurt them, and it’s not OK to hurt anyone else.
- If they’re in a group situation with other children, remove them from the angst, give them a cuddle and verbally explain that they mustn’t bite others.
- Offer them alternative ways to deal with their frustration and anger, and encourage them to communicate their feelings.
- IGNORE other parents snide remarks about your “naughty” child. They’re not naughty, they’re normal, and try not to take other people’s remarks on board.
We’d love to hear your gentle strategies for stopping biting – feel free to comment !
Photo Credit: funky fat girl