Babies bite in order to cope up with a challenge or to fulfil a need. When you try to understand the underlying cause of biting it will help you develop an effective response. The main reason why your baby might be biting is in order to express a strong feeling like frustration, communicate a need for personal space or to satisfy a need for oral stimulation.
The first teeth for babies come in around 6 months of age. It will usually be accompanied by a lot of drooling. At this stage, your baby starts chewing on everything he gets his hands on. Cutting teeth will make your baby’s gums swollen and sore and he might try to chew on his mother’s nipple to relieve his discomfort.
It is difficult to break this habit with some babies. But they will soon learn not to bite or chew. If your baby is latched on properly, he won’t be able to bite or if he is biting he won't be able to actively feed at the same time.
Why your baby bites: Reasons
Below are some of the reasons why babies bite:
1. They lack language skills necessary for expressing their needs. It is a substitute for the messages that cannot be expressed in words.
2. They are overwhelmed by the sounds or light in the surroundings.
3. They are just trying to experiment what will happen if they bite.
4. They need more active playtime.
5. They are over tired.
6. Teething problems.
7. Have a need for oral stimulation.
Why your baby bites: Tips on how to handle this situation
Below are some tips on how to prevent biting:
1. Babies bite in order to get attention. So while nursing try to maintain eye contact and talk to your baby. Touch your baby so that he will know you are paying attention to him.
2. Try to watch for clues that your baby is done with the feeding. He will start fidgeting, looking around or even intense his jaws. So try to learn to read the signals.
3. When the feeding is done and your baby loses interest in nursing or when he is full, he will start biting more.
4. Keep checking whether your baby is latched on properly. Make sure his mouth is wide open and pull him closely so that the nipple is far back in his mouth.
5. Do not try to force your baby to nursing just to avoid his cranky behaviour while you are busy with your work.
6. Try to dim the lights and turn off the TV. Play some soothing sound so that your baby calms down and doesn’t bite you.
7. If your baby has nasal congestion, he might find it difficult to nurse. Check with your doctor and give him the required treatment.
8. If your milk supply is low your baby will bite out of frustration as the milk flow will be less as expected.
9. Negative reinforcement will not work with your baby as he will stop nursing altogether.
Why your baby bites: Some more additional tips for you
1. The natural reaction is to pull your baby off your breast. Try to pull him close to you.
2. His nose will be pressed against your breast and he will be able to breathe since his mouth will be wide open.
3. You can also slip in your finger in between his gums or teeth and he will open his mouth, this can prevent biting.
4. Try to give him teething toys during his teething phase.
5. Try stopping the feeding immediately whenever your baby bites you.
6. By doing this he will understand that nursing and biting won’t go hand in hand.
7. Before beginning to nurse, offer him the teething toy so that your baby gets some relief.
8. Make your baby understand that it will cause pain to you if he does continue to bite. Babies will stop it slowly.
9. Try stimulating your let-down reflex. Your baby might bite of the milk flow if it is not fast enough and he might be impatient for the milk to start flowing.
10. If it happens try to express some milk just before you start nursing.
11. It is required only when your baby is tired or hungry.
12. Try to keep the television and radio volume low.
13. Avoid going to crowded places like malls or parks especially during weekends.
14. Stimulate your baby’s sensory motor by giving him touch and free books when he is well fed and rested.
15. Give your baby a firm hug for a soothing effect.