I have an 11 month old but I'm posting here because, while I'm determined to nurse her until her birthday, I am feeling very unmotivated to continue after that and I was hoping some of you mamas of toddlers could offer me your perspective.
My baby has 4 teeth. She's been biting me ever since she got the first one, and it hurt, but over the last couple of weeks, the biting has gotten more frequent and I can feel my nipples becoming progressively more raw and tender. Yesterday was a particularly bad day and when I nursed her overnight, even though she wasn't biting (she doesn't tend to bite in the middle of the night when she's essentially nursing in her sleep) just her nursing was very painful because of how tender my nipples are. Just toweling off after a shower is uncomfortable because my nipples are so raw.
I have tried everything I know of to get her to stop biting including ignoring it, praising her when she does nurse well, Dr. Sears's suggestion of drawing her in close to my breast so she can't breathe for a second, saying a firm "no biting", ending the nursing session and giving her a teething ring to chew instead. We seem to be nursing less and less because she will latch on and bite me and I will say "OK, you don't want to nurse gently" and take her off and then we aren't nursing when we usually would be. And I think this pattern has started to impact my supply. There have been a couple of times when she bites REALLY hard--it feels like someone is stabbing my nipple with a fork--and I've screamed loudly and lept up from the bed (we were side-lying nursing) and had to leave the room to calm down (DH was in the bed and was able to take her). I was in extreme physical pain but also felt emotionally hurt (even though I know it's not an act of malice on her part) and then felt immediately overcome with guilt for reacting so strongly and running away from my baby so suddenly when I know she didn't mean anything--she just wants to chew and her teeth probably hurt her.
I will find a way to keep breastfeeding her until she is 1, but if the biting continues, I am not sure how much longer I will be able to nurse. I don't think I would wean intentionally, but if I'm worried about her biting, I think that after she is 1 I might offer her a snack or a drink of cow's milk to see if she'll take that rather than nurse her, and I can see how my milk supply might drop as a result to the point where she might 'self wean' just because there is nothing left. i.e. I guess my fear is that if I don't do my part and let her nurse whenever she wants to (even if she's biting), which I feel like I would have some permission to do after she's 1, although maybe that is selfish, my milk will go away and she will wean. Does that make sense?
ETA: I guess I'm posting about this now because to some extent, I worry that the weaning process has already begun... I mean, I'm NOT really feeding her on demand if I stop a nursing session because she's biting me. But I really have no way to know whether this is a passing phase that will have no longer-term consequences or whether this is the beginning of the end for us! I guess that is what I'm trying to figure out. Thanks
i can relate, and feel your pain!
my son bit me to bleeding point more than once and the pain was just the pits. But we still nurse, he is now 4 1/2 yrs.
What helped us were two things. I wore a teething ring around my neck (not his - too dangerous) and produced it as soon as this glint showed in his eyes that told me he was going to bite any moment. I calmly said: use this to bite (not: do not bite mommy or similar - i think this is in fact important when speaking to a toddler or infant: to only speak about the behaviour you want to see eg bite the teething ring, and not to form the sentence based on the negative one as in: do not bite my nipple, or don't bite.)
It took a lot of willpower and i remember thinking that I lost some of my trust that he would never hurt me. He was a bit older though, so i think it was already easier to communicate. But I think on some level the 11 month old will grasp it too, especially if you focus verbally on what you want her to do and not on what not to do.
And the other that did help was when the wound was so bad I needed medicated ointment, and he was unable to nurse that side for 8 hours at a stretch it did make a big impact on him. I told him this was due to the wound on my nipple (bit NOT stressing the fact he caused it, he got that one himself!) and it needed to heal. but that happended when he was about 2.
Hi I don't really have any suggestions right now since you've tried everything in the Kelly mom article I doubt I have any further insight. I just wanted to let you know I totally understand the jumping up and screaming and running out and feeling angry and hurt emotionally. My baby who is about to turn nine months has bitten me on numerous occasions really badly so badly that at one point I had to start nursing her upside down in order to let the nipple heal.
I think you can argue the cue feeding is offering to nurse. If you are offering the breast when baby requests and baby bites then it is perfectly appropriate to end the nursing session. If you very understandably need a break before you are able to offer the breast again then take that break. I don't know what other factors could be affecting milk production but at this point your milk production would normally be pretty well-established and some longer times between nursing sessions should not affect it much. If you're very concerned of course you could pump or hand express if you want for milk production. If you are concerned your baby is not getting enough nutrition then that's something else to figure out.
Oh in my case the biting seem to be a stage it is mostly gone away other she did bite me again recently when she was coming down with a cold. One of my sons also bit for a time and then stopped like a phase.
thanks so much for your replies. I am hoping this is a phase. It's reassuring to know that it's a little normal to feel upset when she bites. I have surprised myself with how much patience I do have with this little one! But biting is one of those things where for whatever reason, it just makes me lose it! I don't quite understand it myself.