What to do if baby bites while feeding

Biting - La Leche League International

What Should I Do if My Baby Bites Me?

A baby may bite during a nursing session for many different reasons – distraction, teething, cold or ear infection (it’s hard for your baby to swallow while breastfeeding with a blocked nose). Once it has happened, it may cause you to be tense or fearful at the next feeding. Here are some thoughts that may help you based on questions that arise at this time:

My baby bit me! Does this mean I have to wean?

Weaning is rarely the answer when a baby bites. It is important to identify the cause and work to correct it.

My baby is teething and bit me! What can I do? 

Try the PACED approach:

  • Positioning – Review how your baby latches. As he has grown have you been less attentive to how he latches? Position so that the nipple is aimed to the roof of his mouth and wait for a wide open mouth before quickly hugging him close.   Keep his bottom close to help angle his head back. When your baby is latched on correctly and nursing actively, getting milk from your breast and swallowing, it’s physically impossible to bite.
  • Act fast – Try and watch for a hint that your baby is about to bite – usually after their initial hunger has been satisfied – when you feel your baby pausing and her jaw tensing, quickly break her suction, slide your index finger into her mouth and between her gums. Remove her from the breast. Pulling your baby straight off is a very natural and almost automatic response, but it may cause damage to your nipple.
  • Comfort – Your baby doesn’t know it hurts you. He may be surprised and unhappy that you have stopped the feeding. Give a cuddle with a firm “no bite” and then offer a cold teether – a wet washcloth wrapped around an ice cube or a home-made ice water pop – or a commercial teether. Offer the breast again if baby is still rooting.
  • Expression/compression – Keeping milk flowing can help. Baby can’t bite if she is actively sucking. If your baby seems to be slowing down (jaw tensing may or may not be present), do breast compressions to increase flow which will remind her to suck and swallow. You can also express a bit to start flow at the opposite breast and quickly move baby there to continue feeding.
  • Distract – Talk to your baby. Say his name. Play a game to get him to laugh for a quick release from the breast.


Since I began working, my baby has started to bite at the breast. Should I wean?

Not at all!

  • Review the PACED approach above for feedings at home.
  • Ask the caregiver to demonstrate how she is feeding your baby.
    • Observe for a paced manner, so that your baby is not clamping to stop a fast flow.
    • Make sure your baby is not allowed to tug and chew on the bottle nipple.
    • Make sure your baby is not being given a pacifier if you do not use one at home and/or not allowed to chew on one if one is given.
My baby has a cold and has started biting during feedings. Should I wean?

When your baby is ill, continued breastfeeding with all of the active antibodies is more important than ever!

  • Review positioning – Your baby may need to be more upright to allow congestion to drain more easily and for easier breathing. You may want to adjust your usual positioning to one where baby is in a more sitting position or even laying on top of your chest.
  • Consider wearing your baby to keep him upright and nursing him while wearing him.
  • Some mothers will run a humidifier in baby’s room or run the shower in the bathroom. The increased humidity can open up your baby’s airways for easier breathing.
  • If the baby is tugging at her ear, she may have an ear infection. See the pediatrician to check for an ear infection or more severe illness.

Published Jan 2018.

Breastfeeding: why babies may bite and how to stop it | Baby & toddler, Feeding articles & support

Babies biting when you breastfeed is painful. So here we explain why it happens and give you some tips to help stop your baby from biting you.

Some babies never bite, some do it once or twice and others are more persistent (Taylor, 2017). So here's some useful information on this painful phenomenon…

Teething babies and biting while breastfeeding

Occasionally, a baby has one or more teeth at birth but usually teeth start to erupt between six and nine months of age (Lyttle et al, 2015). So your baby will probably get their first tooth sometime during their first year (NHS, 2019).

Yet there’s no need to stop breastfeeding once your baby starts teething. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up to six months and continued breastfeeding alongside complementary foods up to two years or older (WHO, 2021).

When babies are comfortably and effectively attached to the breast, their tongue covers the bottom gum, which means they cannot bite while they’re actively nursing (Mohrbacher, 2020). Sometimes, women breastfeeding an older baby or a toddler do say they experience biting.

Why do some babies bite when breastfeeding?

A newborn baby might clamp down or, if they have teeth, bite in response to a change in position or to slow or stop the milk flow (Lyttle et al, 2015).

Babies and toddlers who are teething might bite down in the same way as they do on mouth toys and other objects. Our articles Feeding and teething: how to help them with the pain and Teething tips: five things to try discuss teething in more detail.

Some babies bite when they are frustrated by too little milk (Mohrbacher, 2020). Offering more frequent feeds will help maintain milk supply and might mean your baby is less hungry when coming to the breast.

For other babies, the way they attach to the breast could mean their tooth or teeth press into the flesh causing the mum pain, even though they’re not actually biting down. This might get worse when the teeth first cut through — babies may change their latch a bit when they get new teeth because things feel different (Bonyata, 2018a). This problem often resolves itself when the baby learns how to hold their tongue in a way that accommodates their new teeth (Taylor, 2017).

  1. Some mums find that offering something cold to chew before breastfeeding helps reduce the likelihood of biting.
  2. Keep a finger at the ready so you can break the suction quickly if your baby does try to bite (Mohrbacher, 2013).
  3. If your baby does bite, take them off the breast and offer something else to bite on instead (Mohrbacher, 2013).
  4. When your baby bites, it sometimes helps to try pulling your baby closer so that as your breast covers their nose, they open their mouth (Taylor, 2017).
  5. Your baby might not actually be biting but nipping because of where their teeth are in relation to your areola. If that’s the case, think about ways you can position your baby differently so their mouth is in a different place. Feeding in a more reclined position can encourage your baby to latch more deeply. If you’re finding feeding uncomfortable, a laidback breastfeeding position often helps.
  6. Offering plenty of attention during a feed (Taylor, 2017) and praise when your baby doesn’t bite (Mohrbacher, 2020) might encourage them to breastfeed comfortably.
  7. If you carefully watch what your baby is doing, you might be able to notice behaviour that leads to biting or the feed coming to an end. That way, you can recognise when to take your baby off before they bite (Mohrbacher, 2020).
  8. Shouting can be a natural reaction to pain when a baby bites. But it’s best to avoid shouting deliberately in case this encourages your baby to bite for the reaction or leads to breast refusal (Bonyata, 2018a).

Can I predict when my baby will bite during breastfeeding?

If biting tends to happen at the beginning of a feed, positioning your baby so their weight is well supported and their head is tilted back might help (Bonyata, 2018a).

As mentioned earlier, some babies who bite at the beginning of a feed do this to stop or slow the milk flow. So ensuring that their latch is as effective as possible will help them cope better (Boynata, 2018b; Morhbacher, 2020). For more information on latching, see How to help your baby attach and breastfeed.

A lot of mums find it particularly helpful to watch their baby at the start of the feed. If the milk flow looks like it’s about to overwhelm your baby, taking them off can be a good solution to preventing biting (Boynata, 2018b; Morhbacher, 2020).

Some babies who bite do so at the end of a feed when they’ve started to lose interest. Giving feeds your full attention while you’re teaching your baby not to bite will allow you to watch for this happening and break off the feed when you see the early signs (Morhbacher, 2020). This could also be useful if your baby is biting to attract your attention (Bonyata, 2018a).

Common experiences with biting during breastfeeding

"My baby bit me a few days ago, and I called out in pain, frightening him. Since then he’s been difficult to feed and gets upset when I try to put him on."

This is sometimes called a 'nursing strike' and is described in Breastfeeding: my baby’s feeding patterns have changed. It can be reassuring to know that it is almost always temporary.

Some mums  find it easier to feed at night or when their baby is sleepy. Skin to skin, having a bath with the baby, patience and calm will often do the trick. You can also access Breastfeeding support from NCT to help you get back on track.

As time goes by, your baby is likely to forget the association between breastfeeding and the scare. Expressing breastmilk can be useful to protect the milk supply if the nursing strike goes on.

"My nipple has developed a crack where my baby bit me on a couple of occasions, and it’s very painful to feed from that side. I’m confident she’s attached just fine, and it’s the damage from the bite that’s causing the pain."

Experimenting with different ways of positioning a growing baby might help. We talk about this in Breastfeeding: which positions are best for you.

If you can’t improve things by changing position, resting the damaged nipple by feeding on one side only might be an option. Your other breast will increase production to match your baby’s needs (Bonyata, 2018b).

You will probably find you need to express your milk on the unused side for your comfort. This will also help to maintain supply while you wait for that nipple to heal (Bonyata, 2018b).

Where to go for feeding support?

You can speak to one of our NCT Breastfeeding Counsellors about any aspect of feeding your baby by calling the NCT Infant Feeding Line on 0300 330 0700. We are open from 8am to midnight every day.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

This page was last reviewed in January 2022.

Further information

We support all parents, however they feed their baby. If you have questions, concerns or need support, you can speak to a breastfeeding counsellor by calling our support line on 0300 330 0700, whether you are exclusively breastfeeding or using formula milk. Breastfeeding counsellors have had extensive training, will listen without judging or criticising and will offer relevant information and suggestions. 

You might find attending one of NCT's Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

National Breastfeeding Line (government funded): 0300 100 0212.


The child bites the breast (bites the nipple) - what to do? - 14 answers

Today I got it in full - the child bit the nipple until it bleeds and the floor of the nipple is now cut through, as if with a blade, it hurts a lot.

I found my mistakes - we do not have feeding, but toys with breasts, we finished playing.

I found a couple of links and articles about this:

Some believe that it is time to wean a child with the advent of teeth. Maybe they feel like baby teeth do


painful for the mother. However, if the baby suckles correctly, the mother does not hurt with either two or four, or with a full mouth of teeth that have erupted from the baby. As with many things in motherhood, the expectation of teeth is often scarier than the teeth themselves.

A baby who suckles vigorously at the breast cannot possibly bite. When properly attached, the nipple is far away in the baby's mouth. The baby's lips and jaws are on the areola about 2.5 cm from the base of the nipple.

The problem of breast biting is a matter of the relationship between mother and child, or rather education. The mother must explain to the child that the breast is not his property, but the mother's part of the body. But at the same time, the explanation should be calm, “without scenes”, because otherwise, the child will repeat his attempts with the expectation of what else the mother can do, how much she can scream, etc.

A baby usually bites his chest in two cases: as a test to determine the boundaries of what is permitted, or “to spite his mother”, to show something, to prove, because they don’t hear him differently. nine0018

“Checking” biting is most common in babies under one year old. After a year, children bite their breasts more often, already realizing the consequences (mother is unpleasant).

If your baby is less than three months old and you have this problem, you need to pay attention to proper attachment. If the baby suckles correctly, he cannot bite, and if he bites, then he does not suckle correctly.

Should I take the breast if it bites?

Yes, the breast must be removed, but correctly. Try it like this. At the next attempt to bite the nipple:

1) Quickly insert the little finger between the baby's gums and open the mouth to painlessly reach the breast.

There is another way - to press the baby as close as possible to the chest. This will force him to let go of the nipple, as babies are very sensitive to anything that interferes with breathing through the nose. Some mothers prefer to gently pinch their baby's nose to open their mouth and release the nipple. Although personally, the way with the little finger seems less stressful to me.

2) Calmly explain that mom or sis doesn't like it that way, and we won't eat like that anymore. nine0003

3) Attach the child again.

If he bites again, follow step 1 and calmly, without anger, lay the child on the bed next to him. Explain why you did it.

4) If it asks for breasts again, apply again. Bites - postpone, explain and leave the room.

This should also be done calmly, without strong emotions. Thus, we show that we do not want to communicate when the child behaves this way. In a minute we return, calm down, offer breasts. If he starts to cry a lot, you can immediately go in, pick him up, calm him down, but nevertheless do it without guilt, with inner confidence that you are right. nine0003

Usually three times is enough for the child to understand that the mother does not play such games anymore.

But be prepared for the fact that in a few days the child will want to once again ascertain the seriousness of your intentions. It will be necessary to try to remember and repeat exactly the same reaction so that the child becomes bored with experimenting in this direction.

In principle, even a mother's first natural reaction to pain can discourage a child from biting. Many babies startle at the mother's loud exclamation and immediately release the nipple. Some may even cry. Such a negative experience is enough for many children not to try again. nine0003

If a child bites his chest out of spite, you should give him more attention and care, caress him more, carry in your arms, try to find out the reason for such behavior. Persistent biting may be affected by: lack of attention to the child, use of rubber nipples, insufficient milk supply, teething, stuffy nose in the child.

If you have tried the suggested methods and after a week the situation with biting does not change, write to your breastfeeding consultant. nine0003


baby bites breasts - how to wean, says a doctor


Getty Images/Westendend61

“Everyone around is repeating, what an important process in the life of mother and baby is a chest - chest - chest - breast feeding. Doctors advise to enjoy it: after all, in addition to food, the child receives the most important thing at these moments - connection with his mother. But how can you enjoy it when the child just has iron jaws? It's a hell of a pain, unbearable - I don't know what to do." nine0018

Xenia, 35 years old.

Pediatrician at the SM-Doctor Clinic for Children and Adolescents

“As a rule, children bite their breasts when their first and second teeth appear. This is quite understandable: teeth are something new for the baby, and he can involuntarily bite his mother. Normally, when the baby gets used to it, this situation will resolve itself.

This becomes a problem when the mouth is full of teeth, but the baby still bites. In this case, the actions of the mother depend on at what point the baby bites the breast: at the beginning or at the end of feeding. nine0003

“If this happens at the beginning, the problem may be in the wrong grip on the breast,” says Valeria Shapovalova. - It is necessary to apply the child correctly: so that the areola is maximally in the mouth.

If the baby bites at the end of a feed, it is likely that he hasn't eaten enough and is not averse to "playing".

What to do in such a situation? You will have to be strict and start “educating” the baby from the cradle. Be sure, at the age of "teeth" he already understands perfectly well if his mother is unhappy. nine0003

“When a mother sees that the baby, whose teeth are erupting during this period, is full, it is necessary to take the breast after feeding, not to let it “play” with it. Offer a teether instead of a breast,” the doctor explains. - If you have attached the baby correctly, but he still interrupts during feeding to indulge, you need to take the breast and say seriously, but calmly, that you can’t do this, for example: “You don’t need to bite. Mom hurts" ".

Yes, the first time a child is unlikely to remember your reaction. Therefore, you need to do this every time the situation repeats itself and over time - he will hear your correctly made remark. nine0003

“It is worth treating the breasts and applying ointments that are allowed in this case,” advises Valeria Shapovalova. - On the first and second days, you can often apply the child more often to the uninjured breast , but this must be done carefully, avoiding stagnation and overflow of the breast, as this can lead to lactostasis.

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