Breast Twiddling

Why do babies love Breast Twiddling?

Here’s a strategy to stop the tweaks and nurse like a badass

Breast twiddling refers to a common habit of babies to play with the breasts of their mothers or care-givers. However, some people consider it a socially unacceptable behavior that must be discouraged.

In April 2017, a Canadian Model Tillie Medland posted a cute video of her nephew sticking his hand down the sports bra of her aunt. Watch the video here

The video which is otherwise super cute received quite hateful responses from social media. Some comments even pronounced the two-year-old baby as sexualized and trolled Tillie for not stopping him.

The controversy again raised the basic questions about child development and why some children are more inclined to play with the breasts of their mother (commonly known as breast twiddling)?

Child Development experts consider cuddling, hugging and touching between mothers and their babies as of critical importance in the emotional development of the children. Dr. Sunshine from Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital recommends skin-to-skin touch between mothers and their babies soon after birth.

Similarly, Susan Crowe, Clinical Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Palo Alto believe that skin to skin touch between the mother and their baby will play a critical role in bringing up socially secure, out-going and emotionally intelligent human beings. Breast twiddling can be seen as another form of intimacy between the mother and the baby.

Child development experts also believe that the parents who have physical intimacy with their children are likely to develop and retain a better bonding with their children in adolescence. However, there have been repeated instances where the parents complain that the toddlers keep on breast twiddling or nipple twiddling even when they are more than 2 years old.

So the question arises that is breast twiddling normal for the babies? Or should you see it as a strict no-no behavior?

Causes of Breast-Twiddling and should you be worried about it?

The first thing is that you don’t need to be overly emotional or worried about it. It is perfectly normal for the toddlers to develop an attachment with their mother’s breasts, from where they got their nourishment for many months after birth. It is just like they want to splash and play with their custard or porridge in their earliest stages of self-feeding.

Some developmental experts also consider it a way of seeking emotional security and comfort especially when they are stressed, tired or hungry. After all, their mother’s breast had been their place of comfort and nourishment since they were born.

Another reason for grabbing and playing with their mother’s breasts could be the fact that they like to explore new sensations and textures. Their mother’s body is readily available so this is the first thing that they are likely to explore.

Some experts believe that mothers must discourage boob-grabbing after the babies are more than 2 and a half years old. However, it is not easy.

Is Breast Twiddling Specific with Breast-Fed Babies only?         

No. Even the bottle-fed babies like to play with their mother’s breasts. As babies grow up, they become more familiar with their environment and want to explore their surroundings through touch.

Your body is no exception. So if you notice a child playing with your hair, pulling your nose, sticking their fingers inside your nose, or pushing their hands down your shirt, it’s perfectly normal.

Some of your baby’s adventures are funny while others could be more painful. The important thing is to know why your little ones are acting the way they are acting and how to deal with it.

How can you stop the Babies from pushing their hands down their mothers’ shirt?

Imagine being in the company of other people, where your 2-year-old decides to push his hand down your shirt. No matter how many times you have taken it out, she wants to place it again and goes to the point of kicking and screaming if you don’t let her.

Well, here is my tried and tested step-by-step process for handling the situation:

First, calm yourself down. Tell yourself that it’s just a baby-thing and babies like soft, squishy round things like beach balls, cuddly bears and ..breasts. Take it easy mom. Try to manage a laugh or maybe a smile.

Secondly, gently and firmly push the hands of your toddler towards something else. The best idea is to keep some squishy colorful toys that would keep her hands busy. You can also try holding hands, kissing fingers, blowing on his palms or playing finger games.

Another idea is to occupy your child’s hands with different textures, colors, and shapes. If he doesn’t like to play with a squishy rubber ball, try silk cloth, cuddly blanket.

You can also try to wear a nursing necklace or breastfeeding scarf to distract your child’s attention. Similarly, you can make your breasts inaccessible by tightly covering them with your hands or a cloth. While you are doing it, try redirecting her attention towards other things.

If the baby is grown up enough to understand, you can discourage her with a reward-punishment method. An example of it is that if you are holding her up when she starts boob-grabbing, you can put her down and walk to another room of the house.

If the baby has to choose between staying close to her mother and boob-grabbing, I am sure she will choose the first option.

Similarly, if a child grabs the other nipple while nursing, you can stop nursing and explain in simple words that she won’t be nursed if she plays with mama’s nipple again.

I would leave you with one last tip here:          

Just don’t make a thing out of it. Breast twiddling is perfectly normal behavior for toddlers. If you stay firm, polite and calm, your baby will out-grow it at the right time.

Sana Imtiaz Choudhry

I am a freelance content writer, and blogger based in Oman. I work with entrepreneurs and organizations to craft compelling content that sells. I write about a variety of topics, from parenting to digital marketing, from aviation to health and from education to travel. When I am not writing, I am chasing my three kids at the park.

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