Baby Bit(e)s (Hard) VI

It’s been a trying day.

I realize I have a lovely baby.  He eats well most of the time, does lots of sleeping compared to many babies, smiles a lot, is learning like a li’l turbo-genius, and brings us immeasurable joy.

Also, he bites.  On his mom’s nipples.  This is not so lovely.

I know women who say, “Yeah, I remember when my little so-and-so bit me for the first time… I weaned him/her right then and there!”  This is the kind of declaration at which La Leche League leaders visibly cringe.  Obviously I do not belong to this school of thought, since I have been bitten many times.  On the nipples.  And I haven’t weaned yet.

Today was one of those days when it seemed my “mommy brain” had taken my regular brain and bound and gagged it into submission.  E and I have had a few restless nights in a row, so I’m getting a grumpy buildup in my patience ducts.  For the second time in a week, I forgot to take my carefully prepared baby food with me when we visited friends.  It sat on the counter instead, and for the second time, E had food-from-a-jar, which my poor hubby went out and bought at the last minute.  (Not that this is a huge deal to me – I’m not a hard-core purist – but still, blaarrghh.)  E was too worked up to eat more than a few bites.  I had also forgotten a note with information I needed, which I had conscientiously written myself and I could have sworn put in my pocket…  nope.  Feeling like you’re senile does nothing to lessen grumpy buildup.

So as E’s bedtime approached, I went to nurse him.  We had nursed a little bit at our friends’ house, but he had bitten me on both sides, so he didn’t get much.  This time he got even less before indulging himself in really hard bites that make one afraid to offer one’s breast to one’s baby.  And when I yelp in pain at these moments, he always pops off (thank goodness) but usually also smiles like it’s funny.  It is not funny you darn baby.  Makes him seem like a malicious little demon-child.

Tonight, suddenly I had visions of weaning, or having to pump instead of nurse him – a proposition too time-consuming to fathom at the moment, not to mention exhausting.  For the first time in my overly charmed, naive life as a mother, I fervently wished I could just hand him off to someone and not see him at all for a couple of hours.  (I can hear my dad saying, Me!  Hand him off to me!)

Naturally, it was E’s bedtime after that, and Sean has a very early morning tomorrow, so I did quite the opposite: I changed his diaper, put him in his sleeper, read him stories, swaddled him, sang to him, and put him to bed.  But my patience was… iffy.

He’s still my favourite baby.  Even after going to our friends’ house and visiting with their 5-day-old son, who weighs as much as a lettuce leaf and has silky brown hair and slept like a rag doll basically the whole time we were there, with incredible newborn sweetness… E’s still my favourite.

Maybe I could just knock his teeth out.  He doesn’t really need them, does he?

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11 thoughts on “Baby Bit(e)s (Hard) VI

  1. emole says:

    nipple-biting is NOT funny. but picturing E as a malicious little demon child kinda is! anyway, it made me laugh. in spite of myself. darn baby.

    i think if you knock the teeth out they just grow back in, only thicker.

  2. I went through this (with three actually…)

    I nursed my daughter till quite late (passed the two year mark by quite a bit as she refused to wean well) and my two boys a little less.

    It will seem cruel to say – but in defense of your breasts – you must be very firm and LOUD when they nip (or chomp or just plain bite hard).

    Mine smiled because Mommy raising her voice like that was so new – so entertaining…

    Knowing that they had caused the sound was empowering *small smile*

    I can understand that – BUT – owie…

    You are NOT being cruel if you shout out ‘NO’ loudly and discontinue feeding.

    It only takes a few times for them to catch on and be more kind to you – they will NOT starve over a few short feedings – really.

    I WOULD suggest that ‘food’ feedings be timed in such a way that your small one does not have another option for a while – that will sound mean as well, I know…BUT?

    If your baby is in good health and in a good weight gaining cycle, they will very quickly realize that ‘food’ is NOT the same as ‘Mommy’ – ‘Mommy’ must NOT be ‘chewed’.

    Good luck . *smile*

    Be well,
    M.L.

    • Thank you, M.L.!

      I love the idea of being able to breastfeed as long as my baby wishes, and don’t really intend to wean any time soon… but you’re right, my breasts are mine to defend. Nobody else is going to protect them for me, so I must be vigilant.

      Being loud when he bites me is not an issue – it’s totally instinctive! I yell “OW”, and that’s what makes him let go. And now that you mention it, me raising my voice IS still a novelty.

      We talked about the bite-smile thing at La Leche League one time, and women had many different theories on why that is such a common behaviour – babies think they’re playing, they like how it feels to bite, etc. I know he’s not actually evil 🙂

      When you talk about timing food feedings, do you mean that I should wait until he’s hungrier before breastfeeding? I had been thinking that might be a good idea, because right now I just “top him up” with milk after his solid food, but often he’s really not hungry at that point, so he doesn’t drink much. Should I breastfeed first, do you think?

      Thank you for the conversation!

  3. About the timed feedings…?

    I found (especially with my first son – who was my worst ‘biter’) that if I withheld the breast after a biting incident but then went ahead with his cereal feeding on time, he had no real incentive to stop biting because the solid food would be there if he bit me or not…

    I did not discontinue with his solid feeding of course, but I did change his schedule a bit so that there was a delay in ALL feedings (solid and otherwise) after a biting/chomping episode in which time (fearful though I was) I would again offer a breast first and hope for better treatment.

    (When I say delay – I mean enough so that they realize that when Mom yells ‘OUCH!’ food stops for a while and Mommy gives them a quiet time…obviously it wouldn’t be long enough to cause extreme discomfort or anxiety, just enough that they begin to associate the ‘OUCH!’ sound with something less pleasant than a treat or playtime with Mommy.)

    As soon as he would start to lose interest – I would switch breasts to get his attention focused back on the feeding – less on the playing around – and since he was a little bit more hungry than if he was full up on his solid food, he seemed more willing to get down to the business of nursing.

    Sometimes their gums are really just driving them crazy with erupting teeth and they will bite out of frustration more than anything else I think – gum massage before a feeding can help if that is the case – it eases the itch (and it is kind of neat to see just how really hard they CAN chomp down when you let them – if they really went all out on us I think there would be some damage done for sure! LOL I use to think my little ones could bite through steel if they wanted to when they were teething.)

    M.L.

    • I really appreciate your insight, M.L. I have gone back to breastfeeding before solids, for the most part, and it definitely works better. And not giving him chances, but just stopping the flow immediately after the OUCH. As in, okay, time out, this boob is closed until further notice.

      I’m sure you’re right, that chewing just helps him feel better. He gnaws on basically everything. I remember fondly when it used to be kind of fun to let him chew on my finger… ha! Those days seem distant.

      Are your babies now all big? (With big-people teeth, perhaps?)

      • My daughter will be 21 soon – Son one 14 and son two 12 *grin* (and yes – for a while both boys nursed together)

        It has been a while for me but you never really forget what it was like when they were nursing.

        All my kids now tower over me (not that hard because I am sort of small to begin with – but they are pretty big kids all the same)

        I sometimes look at them and say to myself – ‘I can’t believe I helped make that!’ – really just meaning that you can never predict what your children will become as they grow, or what they will look like or what their interests will be…but they will always be a part of you *smile*

        M.L.

  4. M.L., Wow. I can’t even imagine how big E will someday be. I already look at my giant baby and think, “How did that used to be inside me??” And I look at all the things he knows how to do already, and think, “How did we make this creature that started out as just a few cells??” Amazing.

  5. bev says:

    Well, whoever you are, ML, you have said just what I would have said to my daughter! I didn’t have much problem with biting (I nursed four), but I do remember it happening, so I guess I got it stopped before it got really bad.

    Blessings on all loving moms and dads and beloved children!

  6. suzesque says:

    We never know how these things are going to work out. I worried because my daughter got her teeth soooo late (first one at 13 months) but the “reason” is obviously because we both needed the breast feeding till she was two when I talked her into stopping. AND it is sometimes okay to want to get away from your child. This will increase, along with the desire to be closer always!!!

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