Posted by: Admin | June 9, 2011

Dear LC – My son, who just turned two, constantly tugs, pinches and squeezes me while breastfeeding. He can’t seem to stop moving his hands the entire time. I get upset because he can pinch hard enough that it hurts. He can see that it upsets me but I haven’t yet been able to find a way to stop this habit. Any ideas?

I understand exactly what you are talking about. This is a ‘typical’ behavior of toddlers while breastfeeding. Some children are ‘softer’ than others and simply caress or ‘massage’ their mothers. As your son’s behavior causes discomfort and even pain, I would suggest solutions we usually use for a breastfeeding child who bites while breastfeeding. React normally to the pain and simply explain that he will not be able to breastfeed if he does that. Start the routine that indicates you are coming to an end of the feeding session. If he stops, continue breastfeeding, but if he continues the behavior, put a stop to that breastfeeding session. Next time he asks to breastfeed, explain beforehand that you are not able to breastfeed him if he hurts you. Show him on his skin the appropriate behavior, the caresses and soft massage he can do (never show him the behavior that is not appropriate). And if he agrees he will be ‘soft’, go ahead and breastfeed. If he breaks his agreement, stop the breastfeeding session, and so on.
Another solution could be to distract his attention away from the behavior, perhaps with a toy or a necklace that he can play with. There are some breastfeeding necklaces available on the web. They need to be made of materials that are safe, and the beads must be on a string that is elastic or made of an unbreakable leather. I have one made of a ring stone and big animal shapes. Naturally, the whole thing needs to be safe and your toddler can play with it only when you are breastfeeding where you can see what he does with it. You do not want him to put beads he could choke on in his mouth and you need to be sure the metal is safe  and does not contain lead, pewter, or other dangerous materials.
Hope this answer helps! 🙂

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