Coping with Biting and Breastfeeding

My 13-month-old son is biting my nipples. I have tried to make him understand that it hurts by saying no, taking him off my breast for half an hour and putting him back on, but he still bites. This has been going on for a few weeks. He becomes very frustrated, begins to cry uncontrollably and then throws up. I am afraid that this is going to be a permanent behavior in other situations. Do you have any suggestions on how to get him to stop biting, or how I can just wean him, because I am really frustrated?

-- Nancy Bonnici


What a draining experience for you and frustrating for both of you! You should watch to see if the biting occurs at particular times--at the end of a feeding when he is losing interest, or as he dozes off to sleep. Sometimes babies bite and think it is funny. You are right to take him off for a bit, but maybe not for a half-hour. If you feel he is about to bite, slip your finger into his mouth--better that he clamp down on your finger than your nipple. Or, if his teeth seem to be bothering him, give him something before nursing to soothe his sore mouth. A chilled, water-filled teether or frozen, wet washcloth to chew on may help numb the pain of teething and eliminate his need to teethe on your nipple. Figuring out a reason for the biting may help you stop it.

Your son seems a bit young to wean. If he shows signs of wanting to nurse and gets angry when he is taken off, his behavior does not suggest weaning.

Look through the archives on our Parent Soup site and the LLLI Web site at for questions and answers about biting as well as nursing strikes. To get the support you need to work through these difficulties, contact your local La Leche League.

-- LLLGeoanne

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