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Feeding the Child

What to do when your breastfeeding baby bites - Part 2

How can I stop my baby biting?

You can try various tactics to stop your baby biting. The approach you take will depend on your baby's age, and his level of understanding.

Your baby's newly emerged teeth are sharp. If they graze or fasten onto your breast, chances are you’ll let out a yell! Your strong reaction might shock your baby so much that he won’t do it again. He may even be so startled that he refuses your breast.

The more usual reaction to your scream, however, is that your baby is curious and repeats the bite to see if it works again. For him, it’s a bit like experimenting with a push-button toy or rattle.

If this happens, try to stay calm and quiet, but stop feeding him. Make eye contact and say "no" firmly. Your baby needs to associate biting with losing your breast. Most babies will dislike this separation.

You might be tempted to wean your baby if he’s biting, but there are lots of things you can try first. Here are some tips on how to discourage biting:

- If your baby keeps biting, put him on the floor for a short time straight after he bites.

- For an older toddler who’s a regular biter, be positive when he doesn’t bite. Give him lots of hugs, kisses and praise.

- If you think your child is after attention, give him lots of eye contact and talk to him while he’s feeding.

- Learn to recognise when he’s finished feeding.

- Don’t feed him unless he’s really hungry.

- Take him off your breast if he’s falling asleep.

- Give him a teething toy before or after feeds.

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for a child's first two years. If you decide to continue feeding your baby into toddlerhood, you and your child are sure to get used to bite-free feeding.