Understand why do babies pinch while nursing and what are the possible ways to stop this weird and painful breastfeeding habit!
Nursing a baby can be emotionally and physically demanding for new mothers. Therefore, dealing with behavioral challenges could be a little overwhelming. This article aims to help you understand why do babies pinch while nursing and learn more about how you can avoid it.
Why do Babies Pinch while Nursing?
Pinching or twiddling of breast, nipple, or skin around your breast is a common breastfeeding-related behavioral habit. Older babies between 6-9 months and toddlers commonly resort to this habit since they think it is playful and funny.
Older babies are usually playful during breastfeeding due to the monotony of not having anything else to do during this time. Therefore, they resort to tugging on the mother’s hair, twiddling the nipple, or pinching the skin. It is best not to condone this behavior, especially if it is painful. Calmly explaining that this behavior is not acceptable and ending the meal-time or pulling away your breast can best help your baby understand that this behavior is not welcome. It is also worth highlighting the fact that it may take several attempts, but your baby will eventually overcome this habit — Dr. Ari Brown.
Pros and Cons of this Habit
If you are keen to know why this habit exists and the drawbacks, check out the tabular column.
|Babies have a natural tendency to pinch and play with your breast or nipple. This can stimulate your brain to produce ‘Oxytocin,’ which can improve milk production.||Excess oxytocin can affect |
fertility and cause irregular menstrual cycles.
|Pinching can give your child a calming effect and|
|It can be painful for the |
mother and increase anxiety associated with
|Keeps your child engaged and hold still during |
|It can make breastfeeding in public awkward for the |
|Makes your child less distracted during |
|Can be more intense with age and also get associated with other unwanted breastfeeding habits.|
What can you do to prevent this habit?
1. Nip it in the bud
Babies learn fast. Therefore, it is best to discourage this habit as soon as your baby develops it and reiterate to your baby firmly, calmly, and consistently that you don’t encourage it.
2. Be Even-Tempered
Often, babies go through ‘phases’ of breastfeeding behaviors that wear off on their own, with time. If your baby pinching you is not painful and does not make you uncomfortable, you can patiently wait it out.
3. Diverting Attention
Your baby commonly resorts to pinching because he/she cannot find another way to keep their hand busy. Therefore, you can simply introduce a toy, a blanket, or distract your baby with any other object to help them find something else to play with.
Try objects that mimic your breast in size or texture to help them get used to it easier. A nursing necklace or a scarf can also easily distract your baby.
4. Suggest Alternatives
Take your baby’s hand in yours and play with their hand or hold it. Alternatively, allow him to gently stroke you, play with your hands or point to different things to take his mind off pinching.
You can also tickle your baby, kiss his palms, clap his hands with yours, or play games to keep him engaged.
5. Keep your Baby Engaged
Talking to your baby, singing to them, or reading a book will help them occupy their focus on something else for entertainment.
6. Wear Complicated Clothes and/or Bra
Making your skin and breast hard to reach can be easily achieved by wearing a dress or bra that your child finds it hard to navigate through. This will limit your baby’s access to your skin and thereby help thwart this behavior.
7. End or Discontinue the Breastfeeding Session
You must discourage any unwanted behaviors during breastfeeding that make you anxious, upset, or cause pain. Pinching of skin, twiddling of your breast/nipple, or pulling your hair should be met with a firm discouraging response from you.
Telling your baby ‘Don’t do this, you are hurting mommy,’ ‘I am unable to nurse you because you are not still’ or ‘I can only continue nursing you if you be still’ can be simple, yet firm sentences that will convey your point across.
You can discontinue the breastfeeding session or choose to end it until your baby is ready to drop the habit. Be careful, however, to not be rude or hurt your baby. Hugging your baby, kissing them or playing with them during or after saying these sentences can reaffirm your love for them.
8. Avoid Nursing in Public
If you are annoyed with your baby’s breastfeeding behavior or perturbed by it, it is best to finish breastfeeding before going out of the house or delay until you get back home.
Conveying this to your baby will also help the baby understand that his/her behavior is not solicited, and they will start taking some conscious efforts to break this habit.
9. Praising your Baby
When you ask your baby not to pinch you or engage in any other disturbing behaviors, and he/she obliges, always take the effort to compliment them. A simple ‘You did well,’ ‘Thank you for listening to me’ or ‘That was pain-free and joyful for me’ sentence can help your baby continue good habits and break unwanted ones. Offering a snack or a treat can also emphasize to your baby that discontinuing such habits has its rewards.
Now that you know more about this habit and what you can do, try out some of these suggestions and let us know how it worked.