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What to do when your breastfeeding baby bites - Part 1

Should I stop breastfeeding now my baby has teeth?
There’s no reason to. Breastfeeding when your baby has teeth is perfectly natural. Babies’ first teeth usually come through at about six months, but it varies enormously. Some babies remain toothless for longer than six months. A few are even born with teeth.

Although many breastfed babies have teeth, most never bite their mums. In fact, if your baby’s well attached he can’t bite, because his tongue covers his lower gum ridge while he’s feeding. To bite you, he’d need to pull his tongue back to expose his teeth. This is impossible while he’s latched on.

He shouldn’t bite you with his top teeth, either. Babies, like everyone else, bite up, not down. Their bottom jaw moves, but their top jaw stays fixed.

To get the best possible latch-on, make sure your baby's mouth is open wide, or gaping, ready to take in your breast. His head should be tipped back, with his chin leading. If his head is tipped forward, his top teeth might press down on your breast.
Why does my baby bite when he’s breastfeeding?
Apart from being poorly attached, there are other reasons why babies bite:

- Older babies can be easily distracted. If they turn to look at something, they can forget they still have mum’s breast in their mouth, and then close their jaws.
- Some babies bite at the end of a feed. As soon as you feel your baby starting to withdraw his tongue, make sure he lets go of your breast completely.
- Your baby may bite if he falls asleep during a feed. Watch for the slowing down and weakening of his jaw movements. Then ease him from your breast before he dozes off.
- Your baby may have a cold, or an ear infection, that's making it hard for him to swallow. Try holding your baby more upright while he's feeding, to make it easier for him and less painful for you.

- Babies are curious! Some babies bite just to see what happens.

If you notice your baby’s jaw tightening before he bites, put your little finger into the corner of his mouth, between his gums. He should then bite your finger rather than your breast. Don't pull him off while he's biting. You'll only make yourself sore.

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