Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Vampire babies

I recently joined a local attachment parenting (AP) listserv. It's been very illuminating, and while I haven't yet had the problems that people ask questions about, I'm sure my time will come. Most of the questions seem to be on issues like how to get your baby to sleep, problems with breast feeding, etc. I think I'm still learning what AP is all about, but all in all they have a lot of great philosophies.

But there is one thing that I do not get. I have seen several posts now about children biting while you nurse them. And much of the advice is to just work through it. Does anyone else find that this goes against instinct? It would seem to me, that if your child is biting your boob, it is time to move on. Doesn't this seem like evolution at work? It's sort of like, when your baby gets so large that they could start damaging your innards, it's time for them to come out. You don't let them stay inside and batter your intestines. You move on, bring them into the outside world. But in the AP world, it seems that you're supposed to accept that babies bite boobs. That is what happens. I just really, really don't get it.

I'm not sure if there are some folks that read this blog that might be able to clarify this issue for me. My question is, if a baby is old enough to eat solids, and has teeth, and is biting you, why should they continue to nurse? Why is this not nature's way of saying that your baby is ready to move on to the next stage of development?


  1. Oy. I wish I could be more articulate about this right now... but I'm awfully tired. All I can say is I'm with you. Teeth in the nipple (with intention) would, to me, indicate a time to transition.

  2. I think sometimes babies with new teeth don't realize what they are and what happens when they bite down. Or, they are teething, and they try to see if "biting" the nipple makes their hurting gums feel better. It's not really the baby intentionally biting his mother. (If that is happening, then there are issues, of course.)

    I was told that if my baby bit, to immediately remove him from the breast, put him down (gently of course) and walk out of the room. The shock and displeasure of the reaction is a deterrent from the baby repeating the "bite." My daughter bit me once. I followed this advice, and she never did it again. The same happened with my son.

    I don't think teeth, teething, or this "biting" means the child needs to stop breastfeeding. That's like saying if they bite a bottle nipple they need to quit using the bottle and move to a cup. When to wean a child off breastfeeding or a bottle should be determined based on other readiness factors. Usually that is WELL after a baby has teeth and is eating solids. Most babies are eating solids by 6 months, and most have teeth before that. Most bottle fed babies, however, aren't weaned from the bottle until a year or later, and breastfed babies don't usually wean until well after that (if you follow the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines).

    I hope this helps. I know "biting" sounds scary and freakish, but it's really not like that. It's like when a toddler goes through the "I'm going to slap mama" phase. Why do they slap Mom? I don't know. They don't want to hurt their mom. They are just trying out a new thing they learned.

    OK. Stopping my rambling now. Hope this helps.

  3. Okay, so I have a different take. First, biting might occurr without teeth--that you must unfortunately push through. Second, I stopped breastfeeding at a little over 5 months so I don't know about the actual teeth thing but I agree with you BM that it's time to remove the breast from her mouth--permanently!

  4. Honestly, my Daughter bit me once, and my initial reaction was to lightly flick her on the head. It startled her and she never did it again!