by Sharon Perrella – Lactation Consultant
From around eight months it is not uncommon for babies to explore with their mouths, particularly at the end of a breastfeed – this can include ‘nipping’ and biting. While awful for mum, it’s important to know that your baby is not doing this with the intention of hurting you.
Older babies tend to be very efficient at removing milk from the breast, so they may only feed for a few minutes before coming off or ‘exploring.’ Also their need for milk gradually reduces as they take more solid food. For mothers of babies at this age, it can be helpful to watch closely when baby feeds, and remove your baby from the breast as soon as they have finished actively sucking – this will greatly reduce the chance of biting. If your baby wants more milk they will soon let you know they want to finish the feed.
Some babies get upset or frightened if they have been scolded firmly for biting and they may be wary of going back to the breast for a day or so. During these tricky times, provide your baby with reassuring cuddles and find ways to make time at the breast relaxing and enjoyable for both of you. You may like to sing or recite a favourite nursery rhyme, or have a bath together, or have a snuggle and breastfeed on the couch or bed. In the meantime, if your baby is still refusing one side, or both, be sure to regularly remove milk by expressing to maintain your supply and prevent blocked ducts.
For any concerns, please book an appointment with one of the OFW lactation consultants.