When baby bites the breast – plus bite prevention strategies

Help! My baby has his first two teeth and he has started biting when I breastfeed. How can I stop him biting or will I have to wean him?

Ouch! Being bitten on the breast really hurts but thankfully, there are strategies to minimise and even stop your baby biting. Babies can’t actively feed and bite at the same time so generally when your baby starts to bite it is usually towards the end of a feed which means that you can simply remove her from the breast. However, some babies do bite at other times. If your baby has a blocked nose for instance, she may find it difficult to latch on and may bite as the nipple starts to slide out of her mouth. This can also happen sometimes if babies become drowsy at the breast and their positioning changes.

If your baby seems unwell at all, it is sensible to get her checked but if she is well it is time for some bite prevention tactics.

Offer an alternative to bite on

If your little one is teething, she may be chomping to try and help relieve the discomfort of sore gums. You could try offering her alternatives (to your breast) to gnaw on – a clean, wet face washer that has been in the freezer or a cool teething ring. If she is eating solids, a frozen bagel or frozen slices of banana or cool watermelon can feel good to swollen gums. If your baby bites at the start of a feed you may find offering cool food to chomp before breastfeeding helps relieve sore gums and baby then feeds ‘nicely’.

 Eliminate distractions

Some babies bite when they become distracted or they take a nipple with them between their teeth as they turn their heads to look around. Try breastfeeding in a quiet space and give your baby your full attention as she nurses – make eye contact, stroke your baby and encourage her to be gentle by talking quietly and telling her, ‘good girl, gentle, gentle’.

Many mums have found another great way to help older babies stay focussed on breastfeeding, especially when out and about where it is difficult to find a quiet space, is to wear  baby safe ‘Boobie Beads’.  Babies are engaged by the bright focus beads and tend to touch and play with these during feeds instead of pulling off and on the breast to look around.

Try not to react

Yelping in shock when baby bites may frighten a sensitive baby and could encourage breast refusal or it could simply make your baby laugh and try biting even more to elicit such a hilarious reaction. Instead of reacting (easier said than done!) it is better to carefully slide your finger into baby’s mouth between her jaws and remove her from the breast. You can gently but firmly tell her “don’t hurt mummy”. Then distract her. If you feel she may still be hungry try feeding again in a few minutes. If an older baby bites and laughs at you or your baby is a persistent biter, it is reasonable to remove him from the breast and pop him on the floor for a few minutes – this will soon give him the message that biting means the feed is over.

Push baby closer

If your baby seems to be biting as he ends a feed and gets tired or starts slipping off the nipple, instead of disengaging him, it can often be more effective ( and less painful to you) to try pushing him closer to the breast.  As his nose pushes against the breast he will need to open his mouth wider to breath so will reposition himself at the breast and re-latch correctly.

Watch your baby closely

By watching your baby closely as he breastfeeds, you will get to know the cues that tell you he is almost finished feeding and/or likely to bite – some babies will start to fidget, pull off the breast and look around, or even tense their jaws right before they clamp down. Keep your finger ready to pop between baby’s jaws and remove him from the breast before he starts to bite. This may mean that your baby gets fewer comfort feeds for a while, which is a pity as a teething baby is easily comforted at the breast. However, in the long run it could mean that the breastfeeding relationship will continue longer. After all, even the most devoted mother won’t want to keep breastfeeding a persistent biter.


  1. Kim says

    My son Samuel is a classic distracted biter! He is 9 months old and has 6 teeth with more arriving soon we think. I have tried some of these techniques and although he still occasionally pulls off roughly, they have definitely helped and allowed us to continue breastfeeding, which I have been stubbornly continuing and am so glad that I have. Thanks for the tips 🙂

  2. Emma says

    Any suggestions for baby that doesn’t actually bite but top 2 teeth seems to really just dig in?

    1. Sarah says

      I’ve had this Emma, one incisor that has come through grazes me as my little one eats from one side. I find if I shift positions or tilt her head slightly to reposition even by half a centimetre helps! I’m hoping when the front two teeth come through this technique of slightly adjusting positions will help alleviate any discomfort….

    2. Pinky says

      Check him for a lip tie – flip up his top lip and check the frenulum . Often this can go un-noticed until those top two teeth come through and baby has a bit of difficulty maintaining the latch.

      1. Alecia says

        I just noticed that my 8.5 month old has this and it might explain a few things… He has always required lots of feeds and gets extremely gassy, with reflux. Could it be that he has never been extracting the milk as efficiently as he should? He’s on the smaller side for weight but has had a consistent weight gain and nothing has ever been mentioned about how he latches. What do you recommend?

        1. Pinky says

          Please see a lactation consultant or get your GP to check and refer you to a Dr or dentist who can revise ties.

  3. emma says

    2 teeth! Try 8!!! My LO is 8 months and i can’t get her to stop I’ve tried everything and some times i have to offer a bottle because of the pain. I really want to keep nursing her but some days its just to much

  4. Danielle says

    My bubba used to bite out of frustration. I was going through a stressful time and my milk supply dropped suddenly. I couldnt work out why my little miss (4mnths thabk goodness we had no teeth yet lol) kept clamping her gums together as hard as possible and reef her head back and cry. Then quickly reattach only to do it again. Once I worked it out and got my supply reestablished we haven’t had an issue since 🙂

  5. Rachel says

    My baby bites/teeth dig in during entire feed meaning I now have rather deep cuts in both breasts each 2cm or more. Is there anyway to stop this?

    1. Pinky says

      Ouch! It would be worth checking baby’s mouth to see if there is a lip tie making it more difficult for your baby to get a good latch,see this link

      also try pushing baby closer as he feeds. You may find a nipple shield helpful until your nipples heal, if your baby will feed with them.

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