Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Little Biter

          When you ask a group of soon to be new mothers about their plans for breastfeeding, you will get a variety of answers, but one thing I have heard many times is that they plan to breastfeed...until the baby gets teeth. As if teeth and breastfeeding are mutually exclusive. Having teeth does not make it impossible to nurse, nor does it make breast milk less important, so why so many women believe that weaning when teeth come in is beyond me. I know most are nervous about biting. And I can tell you from my experience that biting while nursing not something I wish to happened again, but it is something that you can work through. 
          Peanut Boy started teething around Christmas time, and of course I was bombarded with comments about weaning him since he was going to have teeth. I didn't even consider it. I had made up my mind that I was going to continue nursing, even if he did bite me. Then he bit me. Now as you can imagine, this was a VERY unpleasant experience. One day we were nursing happily and all of the sudden he just chomps down on my very sensitive nipple and I yelp in pain. I had been given tons of advice about how to handle biting, but not much goes through your mind except to make it stop. So I pulled him off the breast and set him down and said "no biting". Then he screamed! He acted as if I had cause him some great pain, when it was him who had done the hurting! So I conceded and allowed him to nurse again, but again he bit me. This time I was finished! I put him down, told him no biting and we were done nursing. This time he just looked at me and smiled. I was so galled by that fact that he thought it was funny! The next time he wanted to nurse I was nervous and I told him no biting, then he latched and nursed nicely for a few minutes, and then he bit me again. This went on for about 2 weeks. Peanut boy bit me almost every time he nursed. I was at a loss about how to get him to stop. Every time he bit, I would end the nursing session and most of the time he would protest loudly and cry as if he was in pain, or he would look at me and smile. Because he was not nursing during the day as much as he should, we were nursing almost ALL night! This was making me insane, and I had not a clue about how to stop it.
          I continued with my routine of warning him not to bite before we nursed, then stopping when he did bite. Then one day he just didn't bite. It was as if he had FINALLY learned that biting equals no more milk! I was elated, but skeptical. It has been more than 2 weeks since the last time he really bit me. The moral of my little story is that biting does not have to mean the end of a nursing relationship. While it is not something I would like to go through again, it was not enough to make me stop nursing. Children are smart and they learn quickly what behaviors will get them what they want/need. And it may have taken a couple weeks for Peanut Boy to catch on, but now we are happily nursing once again and cautiously expecting the next round of teeth, which may or may not lead to another battle with biting. But I am ready for it.



Wiski said...

My baby didn't bite as much as your Peanut Boy, but my experience echos what you went through! She has bit a handful of times and I approach it the same way you did. Good job for hanging in there!

a_schwendeman said...

My latest baby is my first biter, and I can really sympathize with your post. Just to warn you, he starts it back up (though not as severely as the first time) every time a tooth is about to come through and then he stops once it's in. He bites everything when his teeth are bothering him - even my back or chest when he's in the carrier! I wish I had a solution, but it does pass and it's certainly not worth weaning over.

Christina said...

I think we may be headed down the same path as you. My little guy has two teeth now and is test driving them. He hasn't cried when I've stopped nursing him because he's too busy laughing and smiling. I think that means I need to practice my poker face a little more. Your story gives me hope that this phase will pass, though. Thanks!