My 9 month old is biting, hard and often!!

Andrea - posted on 12/06/2010 ( 22 moms have responded )

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Help...my daughter began biting a week ago. She got her first tooth about a month ago. Her upper teeth just came in. She now has 2 uppers and 3 lowers. Sometimes she bites at the end of her feeding and sometimes at the beginning. When she bites at the end of her feeding she bites as she pulls off. This has made nursing a nightmare for me. I am constantly waiting for the bite...it happens at almost every feeding. I've screamed from pain a few times, scared her and she began crying. I've said "no bite...ouch that hurts mommy". I've tried stopping the feeding and doing something else. Nothing seems to work. She actually removed a layer of skin off of one nipple and it hurts constantly...even when not nursing. I am seriously considering weaning my daughter because of this. I really don't want to stop nursing. If you have any advice it would be appreciated.

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Hurting baby or screaming (which is hard not to sometimes) can scare her and cause a nursing strike. My daughter went through 2 different biting phases. She drew blood from me twice. I know it's hard, but hang in there. You have to stay consistent. Every time she bites, take her off and put her down. You don't have to say anything. If I said something my daughter thought that was funny. As for biting at the end, stay proactive. As soon as her suck slows then remove her. If you let her go and she starts playing she is more likely to bite. Some more tips that helped me:

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/older-baby/bi...

Maria - posted on 12/11/2010

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Here is what worked well for me. He was usually biting at the end of a session or if I tried to feed him when he wasn't hungry. I quit feeding him unless he was hungry... and I read somewhere that as soon as you feel them start to bite at the end of a session to lean your breast farther into them. It will cut off their air supply and they will narturally open their mouth to get air. It took me once or twice to get it right, but once I figured it out as long as a paid attention after he started to slow down I wasn't hurt by biting again! Hang in there! I know you are in pain, it won't last forever!

Callie - posted on 12/06/2010

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I was given some advice from a friend to flick them on the cheek when they bite. I know it sounds really mean and I felt bad doing it but my daughter (13 months) has only bitten me once. What I did was when she bit me I flicked her on the cheek (not hard) and said ouch that hurts no biting. And then ended the nursing session. She just kind of looked at me stunned. But it's never happened again (thank god!). Hopefully you get some advice that helps. Good luck!

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Megan - posted on 12/15/2010

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Oh yikes! Teething is awful. My boy started at 3 months and I had trouble with him chomping down too. What I discovered to work for me was to give a quick cry to startle him, and then just take him away from my breast. If I said "no" or anything, he'd smile and think I was playing. I also realized that my son wasn't always interested in nursing because he was hungry, but he wanted something to play and chew on. Pacifiers have been a life-saver with that and he now knows the difference between playtime and feeding time.
Good luck and keep hanging in there!!

Andrea - posted on 12/13/2010

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Thanks ladies for all your advice...I guess the cheek flick did work but only after a 4 day strike. She only nursed in the middle of the night during that time. Now she is nursing normally again : ) and not biting. Maybe a little scrape here and there. So happy she's over that...I hope. I spoke to a lactation consultant and she said the cheek flick can cause a permanent nursing strike so only use it when you've tried everything else first. Thanks ladies for your support. : )

Patricia - posted on 12/13/2010

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Just ready Maria Bratten post and pushing my dd into my breast worked too if I was unprepared for the "hook the finger into her mouth" method.
The finger hook unclamps her mouth immediately so there was no damage.

Patricia - posted on 12/13/2010

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get your ring finger ready, then be prepared for the bite...hook your finger into her mouth between the gums and she will let go.
Next, with a cross face put her up to you and sternly say NO! and place her on the floor (or somewhere safe) and ignore her. She will prob cry, after a minute pick her up and try again and keep repeating the process. The more you do this she will get what you are trying to communicate to her and after a few days she will understand that biting is not acceptable and she won't be fed as a result.

She doesn't understand she is hurting you but with no way of telling her conditional training is the best when you are in agony and it needs to stop fast.
Good luck!

Brittany - posted on 12/12/2010

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I saw your reply on my post, thanks. I am going through the same biting thing. My son has 7 teeth and is getting more. He is biting multiple times per feeding. He's drawn blood 3 times now. Twice last night!
I will be trying some of these things recommended here. Something else I've been trying is a small "bop" on the mouth. He's got an open mouth after I pull him off, and I just pat my hand over it. It makes a funny noise mostly, but it associates the action his mouth just made with the "no" I'm giving him. Maybe this will help you.

Sarah - posted on 12/12/2010

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When my son did this and I yelped and jumped in pain it scared him and after a couple times he stopped because he associated the biting with the scare he got from my reaction. It will pass but in the meantime I suggest continuing to react normally (as in OW!) and maybe pump and bottle feed in place of the injured nipple to allow it to heal, it's hard for them to heal when they're being used all the time!

Arianna - posted on 12/12/2010

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I would pull my first kiddo closer into a brief 'smother' (for lack of better word!) so he would associate discomfort with the act of biting. It was tricky not to react harshly and yelp since it hurts so. My second kiddo, now six months is a biter and yanker, and I can't say I've worked out my technique entirely yet this time. This little guy does it and presents me with the very most beautiful, charming smiles. I've been breaking the latch, saying "no bite please", saying please in sign language -- which he loves -- and making him stay off for a good long moment. So far so good since there's no teeth yet. Remember every uncomfortable phase does end.... or at least move on to another one!

[deleted account]

I agree with Cheryl 100%...as I said, if you CONSISTANT w/ light cheek flicking she will get it...she will eat Mama, I promise...even if there is a brief "strike" she will return to eat when she gets hungry enough! Its hard because she is testing you...it's like if you continually get up in the middle of the night when a baby is an older baby to nurse...and you decide to stop nursing in middle of the night, the baby will cry bloody murder for nights but being consistent will send the message I AM THE BOSS and know what's best for you and they finally get it and stop all that crying! Parenting is NOT for whimps! hang in there Mama!!

Melinda - posted on 12/12/2010

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Hi,
I strongly recommend Sara's advice. This method worked for me with all of my breastfed children. My daughter went through a particularly bitey stage at around 13 months and I was lucky to end up with my anatomy in tact! Sounds like you're having a very emotional time with this. It's hard to relax when you're stressed and anxious about 'the next bite'. She may feel nervous about being flicked also. You've done so well to express all this time for her at work and feed her yourself when you can, you should be proud of yourself and the gift you've given her. If you want to persevere, offering yourself often and expressing when you need to may get things on tract. Sometimes feeding while she's sleepy can do the trick also. Good luck! Be kind to yourself....

Hayley Jayne - posted on 12/12/2010

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Hi Andrea, I had the same issues with my daughter at 9 months, she would bite at the start or end of a feed and really clamp down and scrape her teeth off the nipple! I would bleed and the top layer of skin was totally off, it made feeding very painful and made me cry also, I too found that pulling her in really close to me when feeding really helped so keep going and it will pass! My daughters now 14 months and still feeding happily.

Cheryl - posted on 12/11/2010

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Cheek flicking!! I have 6 kids, all who were nursed, 4 of whom were weaned around 15-18 months! Anyway, biting is normal, happens with all nursing babies at some point (I literally have scars to prove it as my 3rd child literally bit and drew blood once leaving me with a scar), but it can be stopped as quickly as it starts if you are serious about it. What ever you do, don't give any sort of emotional reaction when it happens (tough to do I know when all you want to do is scream). But seriously, if you react, they will think it's funny and continue to bite. Flick the child gently on the cheek, remove them from the breast ending the feed, and move on to another activity. They will then learn that this is serious and if they want to eat, they cannot bite. Period! Good luck with this...no fun!!

Ashley - posted on 12/11/2010

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I have also read, rather than pull them off the breast (ouch!) to push them into the breast, so they have to open their mouth to breathe... then set them down and "end" the nursing session (for a few minutes - which seems like an eternity to a babe). My little guy's first tooth broke last week, so I am getting nervous... he's already tried biting at the end of sessions - seemingly when he gets bored or distracted - but when I say, "no" he giggles - fantastic :/ Pressing him in, then off works great, though, and you're not tearing your nipple off in the process... good luck!! Please don't give up yet... contact a local LLL, I bet they'll have some good tips too! Hugs.

Andrea - posted on 12/11/2010

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Well I tried the cheek flick twice and now she won't nurse at all. Its been 3 days and she will only nurse 1 time per day in the middle of the night. The biting has turned into a nursing strike. I feel horrible...like I hurt her and now she's scared to nurse. Its hard being a parent sometimes. Anyone have this happen to them?

Krystle - posted on 12/11/2010

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Sounds exactly like my son at 10 months.

Any time he would bite, I would say, "that hurts Mommy!" And take him off my breast and put him on the floor beside me. Then he'd cry, I'd pick him up and re-try.

It really is just a (painful) stage - it's like they are learning how and when to use their teeth.

It took my son approx 6 weeks, but he stopped biting on his own.

Good luck!

[deleted account]

Hi Andrea! I found the best way to stop your baby from biting you is to flick his/her cheek hard enough they will know you don't like it and it's not good. They will figure it out pretty quick if that's the only time you do it! Don't give up on nursing...it truly is the best above all for the baby and as you know a great bonding with you and her!! She will stop doing it with a simple flick every time...won't take long (and it's NOT abusive!!!) tho some may make a big deal about what I said but it worked quickly for me and my babies are 17,22 and 25 and well adjusted :) Let me know if you tried it!

Lindsay - posted on 12/11/2010

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I am a proponent of cheek flicking. It sounded awful before I tried it, but it worked like a charm, and I don't believe it hurt my sons. (Nursed both for 12 months.) They both got teeth at 5 months, so it was either wean at 5 months, or give them a wake-up call! Worked for me.

Jenny - posted on 12/11/2010

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I know how you feel, its terrible, my little one just hit 9 months and has 1 sharp little tooth, since I started giving her water from a bottle she started this biting thing. She bites on the plastic nipple bottle with her new tooth and now to me. Only 4 times its happened yet and I reacted by yelping and refusing to finsih feeding her. She cried and cried but I knew she had enough milk, so I kept holding her and letting her cry but refusing to feed her. Now when she is about done she does bite down (not as hard) and I immediately end the nursing session and she doesn't cry anymore, just accepts it. Its terrible stressful and I hope you find a solution. Its hard to let them cry but by gentle and firm and repeating no bite, I don't think it will be long before she puts 2 and 2 together. Best of luck, hang it there. And don't feel guilty if you do have to switch to formula, there is nothing wrong with that either!!

Andrea - posted on 12/08/2010

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I had an awful day yesterday with the biting...she clamped on and kept biting down harder and harder...I said no repeatedly and she just kept clamping down. Afterwards I was crying so badly...my husband took her. She was inconsolable and finally stopped crying when I put on a "happy" face. It was really awful. Its very hard not to take it personally. I pump 4 times a day so she can have bm everyday and look forward to when I'm home from work so she can nurse. My husband takes care of her during the day and I only get to spend 4 hours a day with her..while she's awake. Today I tried the flick on the cheek(not hard) she bit even harder...she cried and now she won't nurse at all. So she's stopped nursing. Tonight she went to sleep without nursing...The first time she's done this since she was born. Everytime I offer the breast she bites it. She doesn't nurse and I am so sad that it seems breastfeeding is over and even worse is the way it seems to be ending. : (

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