Babies biting while breastfeeding, a way of relieving teething irritation

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Teething babies are most likely to bite their mother’s nipples while breast feeding as a way of dealing with the irritation caused by their growing teeth.

“The reason they bite is because their gums are itching so they are looking for a way to relive the itch and one of the ways is by biting the mother’s nipples as they breastfeed,” said Evelyne Kongoro, a lactation manager. “They are aware of their actions and that is why they will laugh after they do it.”

In such situations, mothers will find ways of stopping the behaviour, for Melissa Owour, a mother of a seven month old baby; she went for pinching his ear every time he bit her.

“He would look at me keenly as I breastfed him, as if announcing his intention, then would bite me and start laughing,” she said. “I then would pinch his ear and he would not do it again, this happened three times only and he stopped completely.”

Evelyne encourages taking the disciplinary route as a learning experience for the baby. “If they start biting, the mother can decide to withdraw breast milk for a while or pinch them, this way they will learn that if they bite they will be consequences.”

But other than biting as a means of reliving the irritation caused by teething it could be a sign of affection, this is according to Dr William Sears, a pediatrician and author of parenting books in an article titled Biting While Breastfeeding on the website parenting.com.

“Babies will gnaw on anything that relieves the pain of teething but there is another reason they bite; as a sign of affection and they are called ‘love nips.’ Sometimes a baby can bite so hard that they scar their mother.”

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