What to do when breastfeeding twins bite.
I have to say, a woman who sticks her nipple into the mouth of a teething baby deserves recognition for her bravery.
A woman who sticks both nipples into tooth filled tiny mouths? Well, we all know twin moms have to have a level of fearlessness to survive.
I have been there, nursing two babies who have decided to chomp down on me. It is not fun! But there are a few ways you can handle it besides just throwing in the burp cloth. Here is what you need to know about why breastfeeding twins bite, plus tips to bring it to an end.
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Why Breastfeeding Babies Bite
Biting while breastfeeding is normal, which means twins biting while breastfeeding is normal. I say to boo to that. I mean, moms have enough to do and now we get bit? It is fairly common though. There are a few reasons babies might be biting.
The theory is that with a correct latch the teeth are blocked by the tongue, so it isn’t possible for a baby to bite. I get the sense from other moms that your baby can have a good latch and still find a way to bite you. (And personal experience tells me this is true too.)
But nonetheless, this is often the first thing to check out. So is your latch okay? With two babies it can be tougher to keep a good latch as your babies wiggle around. If your twins are biting check that they have a good latch going.
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We all know when babies are teething they like to bite! Unfortunately, sometimes that means you are the chew toy. If you know your babies are teething you can try to make sure they have plenty of non-nipple items to chew on while they aren’t nursing.
Sadly the accidental bite might still take place, but taking care to manage the pain should help keep your babies from nibbling on you.
Sometimes babies get bored and bite, and sometimes they are just playing. If your twins' latches are good and you don't think they are teething, consider that they might just be playing.
I think boredom can be more common in twins because sometimes they have to wait for their sibling to finish to end the nursing session. It can be tough to put one baby down while you are still nursing the other. So there could be no physical reason for the biting, just your baby choosing too.
What To When Your Breastfeeding Twins Bite
While it is helpful to know why your baby is biting, I think the bigger issue is stopping it. I want to remind moms reading this that there is nothing wrong with protecting your body. If your babies continuously bite you while nursing they can hurt you. And with twins you can't just give one breast a day or two off to heal, you need both at every feeding. So this is a serious situation that needs to be addressed.
You have a few main options to try to stop your breastfeeding twins from biting. Once you have the latch and teething issues under control you can work on other ways to stop the biting.
I've read about this option where you basically yelp or say ouch to let baby know they hurt you. This makes sense as it can be a natural instinct for getting bit. It can backfire and scare your babies though. And I don't like this one as much with two babies nursing. You can end up scaring both, including the baby that didn't bite. Then you have two crying babies and that is just no good.
Some babies might get a kick out of your reaction too and bite more. Not good. I think it is helpful to say words like 'No, hurts Mommy' or 'ouchies.' Babies are smart and they don't want to hurt you. There is nothing wrong with relaying the message that they need to not hurt you. But overall yelping or other loud noises tend to backfire in my opinion.
This is a key one if your baby is biting out of playfulness. I noticed with Ali she would reach a point when she was almost done nursing and she would bite. After observing her a few times I noticed she would make a funny little face right before she bit, kind of like she knew she was playing around. I would see that face and use my finger to gently break her latch before she could bite. After just a few times of this, she stopped trying.
I know this is easier said than done with two babies, but try to see if there are any patterns. Do they always bite at the same meal? Or around the same time in the meal? This can help you prevent biting before it even happens, which would be ideal.
Sometimes babies get bored while eating. I don't get it either, eating is wonderful. But I think this can happen more often with twins. Each baby will have times when she is more or less hungry than her sibling. Tandem nursing saves a lot of time but the logistics of getting one baby down while still nursing the other can be tricky, and might mean that one baby is left hanging out when she would rather be all done.
Having small soft toys nearby to give the fast nurser can help, or wearing a baby teether necklace. I found even a burp cloth to play with helped.
Another option that worked well when my son bit was the smoosh hug him. Instead of pulling away from him if he bit I would hug his head close to the breast. This works with the natural bite reflex. If you are biting something and it pulls away the natural inclination is to bite harder. But if something is forced into your mouth you open wider and release. So you are forcing a release by pushing the nipple further into your baby's mouth.
Yes, this might be slightly unpleasant, but it isn't painful. And it works. I found it to work really well with my singleton. He didn't like being smooshed and would go back to normal eating. I had a hard time getting a good angle with twins. It might be because I used a nursing pillow with my girls so my hands were in different places. This works best if it is immediate.
Stop the Session
An easy way to send a big message that biting will not be tolerated is to simply halt the nursing session. This worked best for my twins. If one of my girls bit I wouldn't feed her. Not forever, but for a few moments to minutes. When they were younger I would simply cover my nipple with my hand for a few moments. When they got older we would nurse sitting on the floor so I could more easily put one girl down while her sister kept eating.
One of two things would happen here. Either the girl who bit decided she would rather just play anyway and happily crawl away, meaning she was biting out of boredom and playfulness. Or she would sit there angrily until I would continue the session. This was rarely longer than a few minutes. Once my non-biter was done I would always offer up more to the biter. If you have food motived kids like mine, this is the method that works best. Biting equals no food, and that is a message my girls got right away.
Biting is No Joke
Getting bit on the nipple sounds like it could be something told to new moms to scare them, but it really is no joke. You need to protect yourself and stop the biting if it happens. When you have twins you need both breasts in working condition, so don't hesitate to address this issue and protect yourself. There are several easy ways to try to prevent and stop biting gently. Figure out what works best for you and your twins and you can continue your nursing relationship.
- Try yelping. Yes, I'm serious. A sudden louder sound can startle your twins so they stop biting. It also lets them know that they are hurting you and need to stop.
- Observe your twins while they are eating. You might discover a sign they are about to bite. You might also notice a pattern in timing to predict when a bite will happen. Then you can release the latch before your twins bite.
- Distract your twins. Older twins might become bored while nursing, especially as the nursing session ends and they aren't as hungry. You could let them have a small toy to play with while they finish eating. Talking to your twins while they eat will help keep them from biting too.
- Try the smoosh. When your twins bite gently hug their heads close to the breast. This triggers them to release the bite. This is a good technique in that it you can do it to one twin without distracting the other.
- End the nursing session. If the biting continues top feeding your twins. You can try again a few minutes later, but they will quickly get the message that biting means no more food.
Not every technique will work for every baby. Try what you are comfortable with first. If that doesn't work try a different technique.
Don't be afraid to take biting seriously. Breastfeeding your twins shouldn't result in you getting injured.
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