Breastfed baby playing with nipple is a common problem with mothers. Let’s find out the cause and ways to break the habit in this article.
There are some problems that, as a mother, you might encounter with your baby, which are too embarrassing to discuss with anyone, even your doctor. Some are minor irritants but need solutions. One such behavior of your baby, which might be annoying, is your baby fiddling with pinching, kneading, twiddling, or twisting the free nipple or breast while you are breastfeeding him/her. This is a reasonably typical behavior observed in breastfed babies.
It usually starts sometime around your baby’s sixth month. The reason for this is yet to be ascertained. However, certain animals, such as kittens, have shown similar behavior, which increases the milk ejection reflex in the cats.
Breastfed Baby Playing With Nipple
The nipple stimulation may cause the release of a neurohormone called oxytocin, which stimulates milk production. As your baby grows older, he wants a faster milk flow, and nipple stimulation makes this happen. It could also be a way for your baby to comfort himself and feed longer. Your baby also desires physical touch and thrives on it. This behavior could be his way of obtaining comfort by getting closer to you.
Though the activity causes no harm to your baby, you might find it uncomfortable or painful. Some babies can unintentionally even inflict bleeding injuries with their nails on the tender skin of your breast. Your baby could indulge in it even after being weaned. Needless to say that such behavior could be embarrassing in public places.
Besides, the release of oxytocin interferes with your menstrual cycle and affects your fertility. Hence, experts suggest that it is better to break the habit in the early stages itself. You can instill good breastfeeding manners in your baby by discouraging the unwanted ones.
Ways to Break this Habit
- You can exercise patience and wait for this behavioral phase to pass naturally with time.
- Keep your free breast covered with your hand or your clothing when breastfeeding your baby.
- When you find your baby reaching out his hand to your breast, hand him a soft toy or a blanket to play with.
- There are many types of nursing necklaces that are made of colorful beads or braided cloth to keep your baby busy. These necklaces have different textures to keep your baby’s hands interested and busy while he nurses.
- Another ploy is to hold your baby’s hand when he reaches out and make eye contact with him. You can talk or sing to him to distract him.
- If your baby is over a year old and understands simple commands, say “No” firmly every time he indulges in such behavior. To reinforce this, you can stop breastfeeding him till he stops the activity. Eventually, he will understand.
- If you need to go out, feed your baby before you step out so that you don’t have to feed him/her in public.
Twiddling is not a cause of worry, but it is better to discourage the habit early. As a mother, you don’t need to put up with your baby’s activities that are annoying or uncomfortable for you