It seems like lately my sweet boy has a new found passion for sinking his teeth into everything. And so we’ve officially entered the dreaded baby biting stage. In the beginning it was a major biting issue during both playtime and eating, and actually it continues to be an ongoing issue, but it is getting better each day. In fact, we’ve made several leaps in the past week.
There are several techniques that I think are effective for getting a baby to stop biting.
All of these techniques are a work in progress, since of course, nothing happens overnight, and everything related to a baby often takes a diligent amount of training and continual reinforcement.
If you are dealing with a baby biting issue, be encouraged. There is hope, and there are a few things you can do to get your baby to stop biting.
1. Getting a baby to stop biting while nursing.
Pull the baby towards you.
Teaching a baby to stop biting while nursing is certainly my first priority because it definitely hurts the most. That’s for sure!
One technique I learned is to bring the baby towards you, rather than pulling away.
When you pull the baby toward you and bring him very close to the breast, it will make it slightly difficult to breathe, and the baby will open his mouth and pull away. This technique really minimizes the injury to mama, and it’s very effective.
Say “No biting.”
A simple ‘No biting’ while you pull the baby towards you is helpful to teach the baby to associate the words and physical action together.
I think ‘That hurts. No biting’ is also effective. Your baby likely doesn’t understand the exact works yet, but your tone will catch your baby’s attention.
Stop the nursing session.
After taking the baby off the breast, stopping the nursing session is a very effective way to teach the baby that biting and nursing do not go together.
Simply put the baby down and do not engage the baby immediately after biting occurs. This essentially prevents a struggle, and it also prevents biting from turning into a game or fun activity for the baby.
Cry like a baby.
One of the techniques I read about involves crying and sobbing as loudly as you can when the baby bites. I have not tried this technique.
I’m not particular good at faking authenticity, and I’m not sure that my son would actually care that I was crying. In fact, he may very well find it amusing. If you feel this may work for you, give it a try.
2. Getting a baby to stop biting during playtime.
Again use a verbal command.
I know I already mentioned this above, but it applies here as well. Continue using the same verbal command every time the baby bites whether it is during nursing or playtime. The baby will eventually learn the words over time. Keep a firm, but calm tone.
Stop the play session.
Several moms suggested that I stop the play session, set the baby down, and walk away. If you are concerned about upsetting the baby or causing feelings of abandonment, you can even stay in the same room as the baby. Simply set the baby down, walk away, stop engaging the baby, and focus on where you were bitten. This was very effective, very quickly with my son. I would say 1-2 minutes of not engaging the baby is more than enough. Very simple, very effective.
Offer a substitute.
Offering the baby teething rings, toys or anything that is acceptable for him to chew on is helpful. Redirecting the biting is sometimes more effective than trying to stop it. This is also very effective if you sense the baby is about to bite. Just go ahead and redirect the baby towards something that is appropriate to bite. Sometimes if we allow the baby to bite us, he will start to see it as a fun game. So avoiding it all together can be a good thing.
3. The baby stopped biting, now what?
Praise the baby. If the baby completes a nursing session without biting, it’s very appropriate to give an extra hug or cuddle to let the baby know he did well. Likewise, if the baby completes a play session without biting, hugs, kisses, claps, or a ‘good job playing’ is effective.
Reinforce teachings. Using a verbal command and redirection, continue to remind the baby not to bite when you sense he is about to chomp down on you or someone else. If the baby is around another child that bites, try keeping them apart to prevent the baby from picking up the bad habit again.
A biting baby is not an easy or quick fix, but a little bit of diligence can really go a long way. If biting is an ongoing issue, stay consistent and the baby will start to catch on. If your baby stopped biting, that’s excellent. As for us, the biting is much improved, but I am vigorously reinforcing ‘No biting’ and keeping a very watchful eye, as biting will surely rear its ugly head once again at some point down the road.