Breastfeeding Manners

By Valerie Ng, IBCLC.

Teething can make a baby's gums swollen and sore and baby may nurse differently or even bite.

A baby cannot bite while he is actively nursing. You can prevent or anticipate biting by doing the following: 

1) Giving your complete attention with eye contact, touching and talking.
2) Learn to recognize the end of a nursing since most biting occurs once baby loses interest.
3) Breast compress to encourage flow to prevent an impatient baby from biting

Create a pleasant and comfortable breastfeeding experience for you and baby by teaching good breastfeeding manners! Here are 6 tips you can try!

1) Stop unwanted behaviours

Establish rules for nursing. Talk to your baby as if she or he understands your every word. Just because the baby cannot communicate with words does not mean that he or she cannot understand your meaning. Use a gentle yet assertive voice to stop an unwanted behaviour:"No biting." or "No pulling." or "Stay still."  Be firm, clear and consistent. Stop breastfeeding if your baby continues the unwanted behaviours. Avoid laughing to prevent baby from thinking that you are playing or having big reactions that might frighten baby.

2) Redirect uncomfortable acts

Hold your baby’s hand, guide the pinching into patting, kiss your baby’s fingers or blow on his hand. Suggest “nice touching” rather than scratching or pinching. Start correcting early to prevent it from becoming a habit.

3) Distract and move distractions

If your baby plays with the opposite nipple or breast, try to distract the roaming hand with a soft toy or blanket or even engage in finger play.  You may wish to cover the other breast and limit its availability. 

If your baby pulls away from the breast due to distractions in your surrounding, try wearing a nursing cover or attract baby's attention by talking or singing.

4) Reinforce positive behaviours

Praise and reward your baby when he or she is nursing appropriately. “Thank you baby for nursing nicely!” or "Well done! Mummy is not in pain anymore." You might give a big smile, an extra hug or kiss your baby's hand to reinforce the comfortable breastfeeding behaviour.

5) Wait and observe

If a particular behaviour is only mildly annoying, you may want to wait and observe a while to see if it goes away on its own. Babies are curious and may wish to experiment on what they can do while breastfeeding. It may just be a phase.

6) The secret code

Develop a hand sign to represent breastfeeding and show it every time you nurse. Teach and practice this hand sign so your baby learn to ask in an acceptable manner. You can even use a mono-sound word to represent once your baby starts talking.



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