Friday, August 26, 2011

Biting, Pinching, and Distracted Nurslings

So I asked our readers for some input on how they deal with or dealt with the common issues of biting, pinching, and distraction by their precious babes while they were nursing. There are a lot of great suggestions and I’ll share them with you in a minute.

First though, I want to share what I did. My daughter bit me and drew blood one night as I was nursing her to sleep. I about came out of my skin I was so surprised. I screamed (not blood curdling, but it was loud, nonetheless – ha!) which was enough to startle her into not doing it again – that night at least. Within a few times nursing, she tried it again. I don’t know if she thought me screaming was funny, or if she was just curious about how it felt the first time. Either way, I was more prepared this time. She wasn’t one to clamp down hard instantly and I could tell it was coming on. So I positioned my hand by her head. As I felt her biting down, I tugged on some of her hair (she had a lot of hair). It wasn’t hard enough to hurt her, just enough to let her know that when she bit down, her consequence was a strange feeling on her head. It only took about two times doing that and she never bit again.

Now, my son is a completely different story. That method definitely didn’t work with him. There was no “gradual” anything with him. He usually would bite-and-pull quickly and without warning. The problem with me startling him with a scream, is that after a couple times (the first couple times he cried – it broke his little heart – he got over that quickly, though) he thought it was hilarious and would laugh, try it again, I would scream and he would crack up even more. So, that didn’t last very long before whenever he would bite, I would just pull him away and stop nursing for a little while. I had always heard how different each child can be, and I never really understood until my nursing journey with him. Vienna was so easy to nurse all around – he, too, was easy to nurse – I mean we didn’t have any difficulties with latch, etc, but he was definitely more of a challenge in many ways. I think this is a prime example of how each child needs different things throughout their life – beginning when they are little babies and just beginning this journey of life.

Ok, so now that you know what I did, here are a few of our reader’s recommendations and what worked for them:

I have been bitten a couple times. She gets a stern “no” and I wait a few minutes to get back to nursing so she knows it’s not ok.

She was bad about pinching and kicking. I usually just had to hold her arms or legs down until she calmed down, then she would be fine. Sometimes shifting a little bit helped if she was doing it because she was uncomfortable.

For distraction, I just say having a routine helps with that. At home, I always nursed in the bedroom, lights off, TV on low so it was a calming environment, with little to distract her. When I nursed around the toddler, or in a different location (more as she got older), she would get startled by yelling or noise, or she’d want to look around.


Biting has only been an issue for us for a couple weeks, but the first time he bit me I just about threw him across the room I was so surprised. He drew blood! Since then he has only bitten twice, and I promptly said “NO!” and set him down. Breastfeeding time was over. He pinches quite a bit, but as long as I keep his nails cut short it isn’t too bad. I think it is his way of trying to stimulate the milk flow. As for distraction, I kind of use a three strike rule. If he pulls off more than three times in a minute, he obviously isn’t that hungry and we’ll try again later.


Honestly I have only been bitten once by each child…it was such a surprise that I screamed and that led them to not do it again J.


I have never been bitten – thankfully – but my general rule with any pinching, pulling away, or kicking is to tell him “no” and hold him snug to calm him. If that doesn’t work right away (or if he’s too rambunctious, lol) we take a break and try again later so he knows it’s not ok. If he ever does bite, I already know I will stop nursing, tell him “no”, and wait a good while before trying again. It’s important for them to learn the patterns and associate the consequences. J


I was bitten repeatedly for a few days, but only on my left side. I realized I had a plugged duct and she was unable to get any milk. When I fixed that problem, the biting stopped.


If Emmett gets too distracted or starts pinching like crazy I just hold the hand he’s pinching with and gently squeeze it with the rhythm of a heartbeat…it seems to calm him.


Stop nursing, try again a minute or two later.


For distraction I try to deal with it by going into a dark, boring room, lol! Seems to do the trick!

As for biting, we really haven’t had to deal with that too much yet, but I agree the loud exclamation seems to have curbed it so far! And my daughter tugs on my hair rather than pinching…I think it’s her security thing!


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