If you have breastfeed a baby over the age of about 2 months you have no doubt dealt with twiddling, pinching, rubbing, and hitting. Some babies are more insistent on needing something to play with and instincts push them straight to the nipple, but why?
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Why do Babies Twiddle while Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is such an amazing bonding experience but that doesn’t mean all of it is magical. It can be hard too! And exhausting and their are some parts that just suck!
What is Twiddling?
Twiddling is when a baby or toddler reaches over to the opposite nipple that they are breastfeeding on and they twist, pull and maybe pinch the nipple.
Some babies will do this to any skin they can reach or even clothes if they can not reach skin. Leaving to pinching and scratching. I can remember when my girls were about 4 months my chest looked like a kitten had attacked me.
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Why do Babies Twiddle?
Playing with a mothers nipple stimulates her brain to release oxytocin which aids in breast milk production, but mostly it causes let downs. In my own experience it can take two seconds of twiddling to cause a let down or it can take minutes, but it does help a let down happen faster.
While tandem nursing the let downs I have are strong and often because of all the stimulation. Crazy, right? Nature is telling your baby to twiddle!
Twiddling is also a way for a child who has to hold still in order to nurse to still be active and moving. Which in the end is a bit of a blessing for you. Wrangling an older nursling is not always the funnest!
Should you let your Baby Twiddle?
This boils down to your own feelings about it. Personally it doesn’t bug me when they are young, but as they get older they become more demanding and stronger and it starts to bother me more.
Of course by this point it is a habit and becomes so hard to break. I do find that my girls are calmer if they are able to twiddle and then they nurse without flopping around every where.
Related Post: How to set Breastfeeding Boundaries
Pros of twiddling
- can boost your breast milk supply or help maintain a healthy supply
- can help prevent distractions while nursing
- many babies find comfort in twiddling
Cons of twiddling
- your baby may NEED to twiddle and it will turn in to a constant battle. This makes public breastfeeding more of a challenge, and can stress you out
- the pitching and twisting can be painful
- the whole experience can be frustrating and annoying especially as the baby grows
Breast milk supply
If your supply is low or you need to increase it along with nursing as often as possible I would let baby twiddle as it triggers more letdowns leading to baby drinking more and emptying the breast which will trigger your body to produce more.
I am one that would much rather a natural boost in supply than trying to use supplements. Breast milk is a balance of supply and demand. This is why breastfeeding on demand is so important especially up until 8 weeks while your supply is starting to regulate.
If you need a boost not only should you breastfeed every time baby is showing hunger cues but also think about letting baby twiddle to signal a letdown.
Related post: How to tell if your breastfed baby is full
What can you do if you don’t like the Twiddling
I can tell you sometimes the twiddling doesn’t bug me but other times I just can’t handle it! When I was pregnant and still nursing I couldn’t handle nursing most the time let alone twiddling.
The worst was at night and then when my supply tanked she was trying really hard to get things going and wanted to twiddle constantly. It was making me angry and antsy and I just couldn’t do it.
I tried holding her hand and giving her something else to do but she had been twiddling for a year and was so obsessed with it she would scream and cry if I stopped her. It was so stressful. I had to set boundaries.
Having other options for baby to play with can be a big help if holding hands is not working. You can try a favorite toy and if that doesn’t work breastfeeding necklaces are one of my favorite ways to distract. Just like breastfeeding itself no matter how natural it is it is not easy.
Daily Breastfeeding Tracker
If you are breastfeeding a newborn or like to keep track of when baby eats and from what side this tracker is for you. Breastfeeding such a great bonding experience but with it comes the questions. Is baby eating enough? Is baby nursing from each side evenly? Is baby nursing for long enough?
A breastfeeding tracker can help you keep track of that and diaper changes which is your real indication to babies input. You want your baby to have at least 6 wet diapers a day with 2 being very wet. Poops will differ depending on babies age.
Up until a week your baby should poop daily, and often times after that babies will not poop often or it won’t be very much poop.
Why don’t breastfed babies poop much?
There is very little waste when it comes to breast milk. Your baby needs everything that is in it. How incredible right?
OK, the daily breastfeeding tracker is free printable for you to use to help keep a log of what baby is doing everyday. You can either print this out and save it daily, or print it out once and put it in a picture frame and use a dry erase marker every day to keep track.
You can then just take a picture of the days that seem odd or different from babies normal.
I had no idea twiddling while breastfeeding was even something I would have to deal with until I was in the midst of it. I hope this information helps you have a successful breastfeeding journey and that you reach all of your goal
Have more breastfeeding questions? Check out my list of 50+ Breastfeeding Resources