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Once Bitten, Twice Shy

(This post was written a couple of weeks ago but for some inexplicable reason, I never bothered to publish it.  So here it is.  Late.)

For the past two weeks, I have been Baby Loquacious's chew toy.  Seriously.  At one point, she bit down so hard that it actually broke through my skin, leaving an open wound.


Of course I consulted with all the usual suspects (Kelly Mom, Dr. Sears, every forum on Google that talked about biting babies), and I tried to follow the tips.  The "don't say ouch" doesn't work because, frankly, it hurts like h*ll and your first reaction is probably some other four-letter word, so "ouch" is really a far better reaction than anything else you might be thinking.

Some suggested pulling baby in tighter (read: slight suffocation) to cause baby to release her clamp on the nipple.  That only sort of works, because a) I don't have the heart to suffocate my baby, even for a second and b) Baby L can hang on for a while, and if you're mean to her she will bite even harder, and drag her teeth all the way down the length of your nipple area before releasing.  Yes, it has happened, and on more than one occasion.  It's a miracle I still have boobs and my clothes aren't soaked in nipple blood.

There have been several who have offered the suggestion of cold rags, cold teethers, frozen bagels... all the stuff that one might use to reduce gum swelling.  Sadly, Baby L has zero interest in teethers and cold rags of any kind.  She liked the frozen bagel, but somehow she managed to gnaw at it long/hard enough to actually melt it, and she started eating the thing.  Bread causes constipation, so I'm not keen on giving her too much of that.

I was getting desperate.  I mean, here's a kid who nurses 4x/night *plus* several times during the day.  That's a lot of opportunity for biting.  With my already-tender, open-wounded nipples vulnerable to touch, every latch was causing me to grimace.  And yet, I couldn't risk stopping for fear that it would lead to weaning.

So what's a girl to do? Well, I did always stop nursing for a minute (or five, or an hour or two) post-biting.  I also told her in a firm voice that biting was painful, not okay, and that Mommy was hurt.  Unfortunately, the firm voice thing didn't work so great because I'm pretty sure Baby L thought that this was a game.  Ceasing to nurse was only a slightly better strategy; if Baby L was hungry, she'd cry when I pulled away.  If Baby L was just being playful or wanting to stimulate her gums, then pulling away meant nothing to her and she'd simply move on to something else to do.

What finally worked was the Gerber Infant Tooth and Gum Cleanser. Prior to any nursing session, I dutifully brushed her gums with the finger brush on, and she would navigate my finger all over her mouth, chewing all the while.  Because of the finger cover, it didn't hurt much at all, and Baby L was able to get her itches scratched before feeding time.  This resulted in fewer bites, and only slightly more nursing interruptions whenever Baby L felt the urge to chomp; she would take my finger and put it into her mouth again, rubbing it against her gums until the discomfort subsided.  Then she would latch back onto me, and would nurse until she was in need of a scratch again.

PS - Weeks later, this is still my best strategy to curb biting, although sometimes I do use the "quasi-suffocate" method on occasion.  May your nipples be spared!


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