Thursday, January 27, 2011

Toddlers and Twiddling

Twiddling is an age-old phenomenon! 
I have an embarrassing question. My son breastfeeds, but recently he started grabbing my other breast while eating. I always pull his hand away and then he tries to put it back. What do you do, I am very uncomfortable with him doing this, but don't want to stop breastfeeding yet until he is at least 2years of age...Have you dealt with this??”

Don't feel embarrassed! It's very common, especially in toddlerhood. Mamas call it "twiddling." Toddlers do this to increase the milk flow, or also because they are bored. You can see some toddlers doing this in the public service announcement here:

If it makes you uncomfortable (it personally hurts me) you can try redirecting to a toy, holding his hand or offering a nursing necklace.

I just recently bought a nursing necklace made of Maplewood. I found it on clearance for $4 and thought what the heck, I'll grab it. It really made a difference for us! Both my toddler and my baby hold it, and my baby uses it for teething, too.

If you think your little one is doing this because he needs a smoother milk flow or letdown, I've found that drinking a cold beverage while nursing helps with a letdown. Sometimes we have to stop and think about what our toddlers need, since they are still learning how to communicate with us.

But if it seems that he is just being a toddler or bored, has a whole article on ways to develop nursing manners:

A nursing necklace can redirect fidgety hands, provide teething relief AND look stylish.

I hope this information helps! Since breastfeeding is a relationship between the mother and child, each stage has its own joys and pains. Our culture has promoted premature weaning for so long that mamas are having to rediscover all the details of nursing past 9-12 months. Some of the toddler peculiarities require consistent and gentle parenting, but the trade off is being able to comfort and nourish your toddler for hopefully a long time.


  1. My son is trying to do this at this very moment. He's quite annoyed that I am actually wearing a bra today.

    He's decided to hold my chin for the time being.

    Glad to know this is normal toddler behavior!

  2. When my daughter started twiddling (around 16 months old), I gently moved her hand away while holding that side of my shirt down. Instead of twiddling my other nipple, she started playing with my mouth. This didn't bother me as much as the twiddling, and, at 25 months, she still does it when she nurses.

  3. I don't mind the twiddling at night. She ilkes to fall asleep that way and it's comforting to her, lol. Crazy girl. During the day I'm not enthused about it. I really should wear my nursing necklaces again. :)

  4. Thanks for the post, I could really benefit from these suggestions!!