When Nursing Bites

biting while nursing

Biting. I was in denial about it. My son would never bite me. His disposition is too sweet. Then, it happened. The excruciating bite followed by a sly little smile. I yelled and he cried. It was brutal.

Now my breath catches when he pauses during nursing.

Will he just swallow or are his teeth about to make their presence known? He’s bitten me a few times since and I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t put a significant strain on our breastfeeding relationship. I yelp and sternly tell him “we don’t bite Mommy” and place him on the ground. He cries the saddest, squishiest face cry. I feel awful, but I know he needs to learn not to bite for my well being (and his).  

It’s just one of many trials the two of us will face.  

The first of many times we will face off in a battle of wills and I will need to stand my ground in order to teach, to mold, to guide my little man to distinguish between right and wrong. Perhaps that’s why children bite their mothers. I would never have scolded my son and been so stern with him for any other reason at nine months old. I’ve said no to touching certain things, pulling my hair, trying to fling himself off the changing table, but those actions have been more of a reflex to keep him safe or a redirection of behavior.

When he bit me, I actually gave him a thought out punishment where I expected him to sit back and reflect on what he’d done despite his tears. (Yes, I realize he’s too young to understand, but the difference is in how I handled it, the seriousness.) I think nature had to throw in a bit of self-preservation to encourage a mom like me to practice laying down the law.

Is biting while nursing normal? Apparently, yes. As babies get older and more comfortable in the nursing relationship, they start to explore a bit. They discover the amazing things their mouth can do and teeth introduce a whole new realm of exploration. Unfortunately, biting can be a natural byproduct of this exploration. According to Kelly Mom, “Biting often takes place at the end of a nursing session when Baby is getting bored and is no longer hungry.” As my experience has been teaching me, putting the kibosh on the biting takes a lot of persistence on my part, but should hopefully only be a temporary challenge. 

I usually only have a few minutes of strength to watch him cry before picking him back up and comforting him, reaffirming how much I love him and how I know he didn’t mean to hurt me. His recovery is always quick and we go about business as usual. I hope that trait lingers, that even as he grows up we fight, we reconcile, we move on and under it all we know we love each other. If I have anything to say about it, it will.

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