11mo Biting and Wary of Breast After Teething Episode

A baby's refusal to feed is a distressing time. Sometimes the refusal is outright; other times just an extreme fussiness. Usually it is temporary and the baby returns to the breast. Share your experiences and support one another through this tough time here.
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EvelBerry
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Joined: Sun May 11, 2014 8:28 pm

11mo Biting and Wary of Breast After Teething Episode

Post by EvelBerry » Sun May 11, 2014 9:00 pm

Hi! I'm new to the forum and looking for some ideas about our bfing issue that has been upsetting over the past week.

DD 11mo started teething last week, and suddenly bit me (with her new top teeth) very hard and drew blood. I screamed and cried a bit in surprise which upset her. She made a few more attempts to nurse the next day, but looked wary and would just bite me (even though she came to me). Initially I think she associated nursing with making her gums sore (we had a few days where it was hard to get her to drink much), but now a week on she still bites me even though the teething has passed and looks wary when I offer her the breast (as if scared of my reaction). I've been pumping during the day and trying to get her to take a bottle/cup, and sometimes she will nurse at night when she is half asleep. I have tried saying "no biting" but she thinks I mean "no nursing" because she then shys away from the breast. It is also impossible to have no reaction because it is very painful with her sharp little teeth. It is tricky because she bites before she latches, so it is hard to communicate to her what I am saying 'no' to. I know she wants to nurse, as she nuzzles me sometimes and points at "boobie" and talks and tries to nurse her stuffed bunny. I feel so sad that she might think I am rejecting her nursing attempts and it has disrupted our routine and stressed us both - particularly when it comes to getting her to sleep at night because I would nurse her to sleep, now she get stressed because I have to use other methods like the sling or patting and rocking, and she also drinks a lot less and has drier nappies.

So, does anyone know how I can communicate to her not to bite but to encourage her to nurse again? I am a bit afraid to offer her my breast even though I really want her to nurse because I know she will bite, how to I overcome this fear? Has this happened to anyone else?
I don't think either of us are ready to stop breastfeeding, it's all too sudden. Thanks so much! :)

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ClOuD_NiNe
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Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:16 pm
Location: NZ

Re: 11mo Biting and Wary of Breast After Teething Episode

Post by ClOuD_NiNe » Sun May 11, 2014 11:17 pm

Hi EvelBerry and welcome to the forum!

Ouch, that sounds painful :( baby teeth can be incredibly sharp can't they?! I had almost the exact same problem when DD started teething at around 8-9 months. Sometimes her initial latch would be ok but other times she would chomp down before latching properly. Also if she pulled off during the feed, when she went to re-attach she would chomp on my nipple. Like you, I was scared to feed at times.

I'm happy to say that with a bit of work and patience, things got a lot better! The biting was really only an issue for a month or so. There is hope!

A couple of things that worked for us... just before she went to latch on I would say to her "gentle gentle", and when she did so without biting I would praise her and kiss her head. If she bit down I would take her off straight away and say "no biting, that hurts" and put her down for a bit. Sometimes I would offer her a teething ring to chew on and told her she could bite that but not mummy. After a short time I would offer the breast again but with the "gentle gentle" reminder.

I found that if she was hungry and frantic she was more likely to bite, whereas if she was relaxed and calm things went a lot better. So I tried to calm her down before a feed and feed in a relaxed environment (quiet room, bath, while sleepy, etc) while offering lots of encouragement and praise when she didn't bite.

The information on this page may be of some use https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/biting.html

It might also be useful to give the helpline a call. The trained counsellors are lovely and may have some other ideas for you. Good luck and let us know how you go!
DS July 11 - bf for 10 months
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Storked by the lovely mooki
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~WildChild~ was my storker

EvelBerry
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun May 11, 2014 8:28 pm

Re: 11mo Biting and Wary of Breast After Teething Episode

Post by EvelBerry » Mon May 12, 2014 9:21 am

Thanks for your experience and tips Cloud Nine, I'll give the 'gentle, gentle' technique a try. Good to hear there is hope! I've had a chat to a lovely lady on the helpline, it's good to hear what has worked for others.

EvelBerry
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun May 11, 2014 8:28 pm

Re: 11mo Biting and Wary of Breast After Teething Episode

Post by EvelBerry » Mon May 12, 2014 5:52 pm

I am happy to report that I was able to feed her in the day today with minimal biting and able to nurse her to sleep tonight! Best mum's day gift :) I decided to not express today, and just offer boob. She was hungry when she can back from an outing with dad, and latched without biting, I was stoked and praised her. I am still a bit tense when nursing her, as I am sure she will bite again, and in fact did bite me during a nursing session, but I just told her firmly "no biting" (I also jolted and she stared at me because I have a hard time stopping my body from reacting! I can only hope the nerve endings in my nipples die off ;)) and put my boob away and we did something else. She was a little upset when I put it away, but thankfully she returned to the boob later. I doubt we are out of the woods on the biting front, but I can see the light! Thanks so much for your help :)

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