I've tried so many different tactics to get ds to stop biting when he nurses.... putting his nursies away and doing something else for a while before we try it again.... Saying "ouch" when he bites and then again when he gets hurt to try and connect the same feelings of pain, keeping a finger in the back of his gums to prevent the biting- which messed up his latch, etc.... you name it, we've tried it (he also bites me/other people on other places on the body as well despite our best efforts to get him to stop.) I've asked out family doctor, talked about it with my LLL group, but have yet to find an effective solution to the problem yet. He still thinks it's hilarious when he bites, and broken my skin more than once- I've had nightmares lately in which he bites my nipple off completely. I used to be able to tell when he'd pull back his tongue to bite, but he's getting much quicker as he gets older and now I can't tell as well either. We nurse to sleep and this growing problem is now effecting our night time routine in a big way too.... and is really making me dread nursing him in the worst way. Help?!?
Our DS went through a biting phase for a few days and it was horrible, so I can definitely know what you are going through. He bit me enough to draw blood, just as we were both falling asleep one night, and for several days I was afraid to nurse him (even though I did of course, as he was EBF). The word that comes to mind is "traumatic." After the bad bite, I felt as though I didn't want to even be around DS. Healing from the emotions around it - anger, fear, feeling violated - was even worse than the physical pain.
I read a few things that were helpful to me. The main thing was something I read online. It said that getting a really good latch is essential for preventing biting. The writer said that if the mouth is full of breast, that it is impossible to bite. I realized that I had become pretty lazy with our latching, so when it was time to put him on, I pushed my breast into his mouth. I was a pretty forceful with it. I was really aware of his latch from then on, and he hasn't bit me again.
Ina May Gaskin discusses the biting issue in her book, Ina Mays' Guide to Breastfeeding. She says that if you are bitten, you should yelp/scream loudly, and then immediately pull him off, so that the baby gets that is not OK. She says that it's important that babies/toddlers learn nursing manners, and to not put up with them hurting you.
Oh yes, something else I learned is that it's important to pull the baby off by putting your finger on the side of their mouth to release the latch/bite. I neglected to do this when he bit me, and instead pulled away with his teeth on my nipple, which added extra pain.
I won't pull a baby off. Instead, I use the method of smooshing the baby's face into my boob until the baby opens mouth and then I put the baby down and walk away for a while. How long I'm gone depends on how old the baby is.
OP, it sounds like this has become a game for your baby. Perhaps he is an action-lover and therefore loves doing things that cause others to react (screaming is a big joy for kids like this). This is not a bad thing and does not mean he has negative intentions. He just likes action!
Have you tried not just putting him down after he bites, but putting him down and making him stay in one spot? I have a little thrill-seeker who likes to bite (my first biter of 5 kids!) and making her stay still has more of an impact upon her than simply not allowing her to continue nursing or even walking away. A little biting is a normal part of development, but biters have more going on, I think.
I've noticed that my dd bites more often when she's actively teething. Her gums irritate her, her mouth hurts, and she bites b/c she is wired to be active when she is dealing with a problem (as opposed to a person who is wired to sit back and think a long time before trying to deal with a problem). When she bites me while not nursing (life with a biter is weird! she likes to bite my legs and arms), I tell her "no" and walk away. If she follows me, trying to bite, I take that as a sign she needs something more, so I put her in my lap and we play hand games and sing songs or read a book. Sometimes we just cuddle b/c the biting was a sign that she's tired.
To me, biting is a sign of unmet needs. It's a way of telling us, "I need something from you." Which is often why they laugh "at" our reactions, I think. They enjoy the moment of connection and attention and focus.
Perhaps if you look at the biting as a relationship issue, not a nursing issue, something may present itself as a solution. I hope I was of some help, at least.
Yes, yes. I'm fabulous. Moving on...
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