Two weeks ago, I posted on biting. It was a post that I had tried to write for a while but just kept running out of time and into other issues. However, things have shifted and I’ve noticed/learned a few things recently that I wanted to share.
Because I can tell that you’re on the edge of your seat, let me do away with the suspense and say that yes, Elisabeth is biting less. Now, I have a feeling this will, yes come back and bite me (haha) but I’m going to write it here anyway. You may remember that we last left out with me troubled by Elisabeth’s biting…in more ways than one, but vowing to continue to breastfeed because I knew that it was still very healthy choice, that babies don’t generally self-wean before 18 months and perhaps the most important thing for me: Elisabeth seemed to still want to nurse. But I also know that I needed some extra support so I reached out to a soon-to-be IBCLC certified lactation consultant, Julie. Julie gave me a few tips which I tried:
- Distractions-I mentioned in my first post that distractions sometimes worked with Elisabeth but I decided to amp things up a bit. Yes, call me crazy but when she asks to nurse and it’s not bedtime or naptime, I give her one of my really cool pens to play with. The cap is screwed on tight but there’s something about the colors, shape and feel of them that she loves so and because her mouth is already full (ha!) I don’t worry about it getting swallowed or bitten. When she’s done, I take it away. WIN! I’ve also been handing Elisabeth off to my husband, especially when I know she’s bored. This has helped “prioritize” the nursing a bit more so no nursing out of boredom or just because a breast is there. These pieces have made a BIG difference.
- Offering solids– This got away from me a bit in our first week here.
I would offer something to Elisabeth, she would said “no” and scooted away and I became discouraged. Here also, I amped up this area big time. I put out a plate with at least 3 different options on it, say a pear slice, a cracker and a carrot. And I just left it out for her. This seemed to work. Occasionally Elisabeth would get so distracted b her play that she’d forget about the plate so I showed it to her and she’d take a bit of cracker or apple and work on it for a bit. I also amped up the different options of foods. Whereas at home we’d have plain yogurt with cinnamon, here we do fruit yogurt and she loves it. She has also been eating traditional zwieback, Wasa crackers, rice cakes and a multi-grain cracker, along with the usual fruits (strawberries, grapes, blueberries, etc.) and vegs (carrots, cukes, the occasional tomato)
I’ve also realized (duh) that Elisabeth only knows to ask to breastfeed when she’s hungry. She doesn’t understand yet that food can come from other places. I started to be more conscious of that fact while also remembering that she is still getting the bulk of her nutrition from me. This juggle in mindfulness has allowed me to relax a bit when it comes to the kinds of foods she eats. I have struggled with wanting to get as many veggies and fruits in her as I can. While that’s still important, I also know that sometimes a croissant in the morning seems to soothe the hunger bit more than a piece of pear. That’s me all over! And Elisabeth will always devour a pear, apple or 6 strawberries over 1/2 a mini croissant so I don’t need to worry as much in this area.
Remember those hot days we had in week #2 here? Well, that was also around the time of a lot of biting and nursing. Because breastmilk is 88% water, Elisabeth comes to me to breastfeed because she’s thirsty! Once I “remembered” this, I started to give her water bottle sippy more often. That also helped on the constant demand to nurse and the subsequent bites that came in the process. I’ve always been a bit wary of “too much water” (filling her up but adding no nutritional value, etc.) but Elisabeth is over a year now and she is getting plenty of real food and breastmilk so small amounts of water isn’t a problem.
Lastly, it has helped me to remember that breastfeeding is a form of comfort, not just nutrition for Elisabeth. When there is so much upheaval (travel, stress, etc.) she comes to me to nurse because she feels safe there. The breastfeeding has been the constant since minute #2 of her life and it’s what is most familiar. As our days became more routine here, the constant “need” to nurse became less and the biting also subsided.
Things don’t ever seem to stay status quo for long with Elisabeth but for now, I’m just feeling grateful for where we are today: no bites & a good size piece of apple devoured.