Breastfeeding can suddenly become stressful when your baby is biting while breastfeeding. You may wonder why it’s happening – and if you can do anything about it. In this article, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant discusses the main reasons why your baby is biting while breastfeeding.
Why Is My Baby Biting While Breastfeeding?
s your baby biting while breastfeeding and you are wondering why?
Many breastfeeding moms wonder why their baby is biting while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding and biting could be caused because of a variety of reasons including:
- The baby is distracted
- To get a reaction from you
- The letdown is too slow or too fast
- To let you know they are doing biting
Let’s talk a little more about these!
Hi! 👋 I’m Katie, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant I have helped thousands of moms across the world navigate their breastfeeding journey since 2015. I can’t wait to help you! Be sure to consider checking out my 1:1 lactation support services or enrolling in one of our online breastfeeding workshops today.
Causes of Breastfeeding Biting
Once you’ve discovered the causes of breastfeeding biting, make sure you check out this article – how to stop biting while breastfeeding.
Teething is one of the biggest causes of biting while breastfeeding.
Teething can cause discomfort, and babies often look for just about anything to chew on – including the breast. If this is happening a lot, offering them a teething toy or breastmilk popsicle can help soothe their gums and they will hopefully use it instead of your breast!
In between feeds, you can offer comfort measures, such as a wet rag on their gums, or camilia teething gel.
On a similar note, it’s possible that they have always tugged on you during nursing at one point or another, and you just didn’t notice it until they got teeth. With my current baby, I’ve discovered that he clamps down a little bit when he’s done nursing. Didn’t bother me when he didn’t have teeth – but now it hurts!
2. Seeking Attention
When your baby gets older you may notice they want more of your attention and may resort to biting while breastfeeding to get your attention. This may become more common if they find you react dramatically to them biting (which is hard to avoid, I know!)
You can let your baby know that you are paying attention to them by giving them direct eye contact while breastfeeding. You can also try rubbing their arms or talking to them while they eat. This will help keep their attention and let them know they have your full attention.
You should also avoid being too dramatic or yelling or even saying no. As previously mentioned, negative attention is still attention, and some babies will think you are playing.
3. Milk Supply Drops
Babies tend to bite and pull back on the nipple when they are trying to get more milk from your breast. Your milk supply may be low due to hormonal birth control methods, becoming pregnant while breastfeeding, medications, or even stress. There are many reasons to consider when you have a sudden drop in milk supply.
Be sure to check with a lactation consultant if you have questions about milk supply. Just remember if your baby is gaining weight and thriving they are getting enough milk.
4. Baby Has a Cold or Other Illness
If your baby is biting while breastfeeding check to see if your baby has a stuffy nose or has been pulling at their ear. It is more difficult for your baby to get a proper latch on your nipple when they are having a hard time breathing out of their nose.
The more difficult it is for them to breathe out of their nose the more frustrated they become and may resort to biting while breastfeeding instead of properly latching on.
If they get a cold or are stuffed out use a nasal aspirator to give your baby some relief before breastfeeding. It will help them feel more comfortable, but it might also prevent some biting.
5. Slow Letdown
If you have a slow letdown, your baby may bite at the breast to try and get the milk to come out faster. A slow letdown can happen for many reasons – the two biggest I see are:
- Stress (here are some good tips for managing anxiety and stress while breastfeeding)
- Menstrual cycle
Using breast compressions can often help to combat a slow letdown. You can also try and hand express before your latch to help get to the letdown more quickly.
6. Poor Latch
A baby who is properly latched cannot bite you. Obviously, if they come unlatched, that can be problematic, and this is when they may bite. However, if they are properly latched and actively nursing, biting – or even just having their teeth dig into you while nursing – shouldn’t happen.
I hope that this provided you with some insight into why your baby might be biting while breastfeeding. This can be a challenging stage, but it is not insurmountable. Be sure to book a virtual lactation consult with me to get personalized lactation support!
More Articles You May Enjoy:
- Tips for Surviving Distracted Nursing
- Do you have to pump and dump after drinking alcohol?
- 16 Reasons Behind a Squirmy Baby While Breastfeeding
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.