why babies twiddle - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 03-19-2010, 01:02 AM - Thread Starter
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does anybody know if there is a biological reason why babies twiddle the other nipple while nursing the one? my son has been attempting to do it for as long as he's had control of his hands. it must stimulate more milke that way, right?

also, it bugs me, and i generally throw up my hand to "block" the other nipple, giving him my fingers to hold instead of twiddling.

do you think that in other cultures, ones that don't "sexualize" the breasts, the moms allow more twiddling?

do any of you guys allow your nursling to twiddle the other nipple? i do allow my baby to stroke my other breast. that doesn't bother me at all.

do you think the baby would get *a lot* more milk if allowed free range twiddling, to do it as much as he'd like?

just curious.

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#2 of 9 Old 03-19-2010, 01:27 AM
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I've heard that they do it to stimulate letdown. I mean, there must be some reason, right? From what I've heard, it seems pretty universal.

I let my DD twiddle as much as she wants. My nipples have never been too sensitive, so I guess it just doesn't bother me like it seems to bother other women. I haven't actually noticed letting down any faster though when she twiddles.

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#3 of 9 Old 03-19-2010, 03:16 AM
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I have pretty abundent supply & letdown but ds still would like to twiddle. Personally I have never permitted it - even the idea sounds uncomfortable to me but I find just bfing very stimulating & at times overstimulating to the point of irritating.

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#4 of 9 Old 03-19-2010, 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by ElliesMomma View Post

do any of you guys allow your nursling to twiddle the other nipple? i do allow my baby to stroke my other breast. that doesn't bother me at all.
I never allowed that. I don't know if I was just lucky because my babies didn't tend that way, or if because from the very beginning I would keep the other breast covered they never got into it. They would work on the breast from which they were nursing, and claw and grab that, or they'd twiddle their own ears or hair.

My breasts aren't particularly sensitive, but I would notice that when they nursed on the breast, the breast itself did become more sensitive, mostly when they were a little older. When they were newborns, I didn't notice it as much, and my children would claw my breasts and I had scratches on them for awhile in those months. My older daughter did this light pinching of the loose skin, pulling it up to her nose as she nursed. It was kind of cute and didn't bother me. My younger daughter would sometimes grab the breast and squeeze it and I had to put an end to that too. Any sensation on the other nipple drove me to distraction, so I would always cover it with a cloth diaper or my hand.
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#5 of 9 Old 03-19-2010, 03:56 AM
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My DS (now almost three) has always wanted to do that - I never liked it and would just move his hand to the main part of the breast instead - I though the would eventually catch on, but he will still go for the nipple sometimes to this day - it has always bothered me - first, because my nipples were super sensitive and then just because it simply didn´t feel comfortable for me. I would only allow his hand to rest on the nipple just at the point of him falling asleep - it seemed to be that final thing that relaxed him to the point of sleeping, which was preferable to "fighting" with him about exactly where his hand should go - but that was only a small percentage of the time.

I seem to remember reading somewhere - don´t remember exactly where, but I think it was a pretty reliable source - that they haven´t found a concrete, scientific reason why babies (or toddlers) do this, but that it seems to be something instinctual.

In my son´s case, it seems to me to be a comfort thing - like he wants to make sure the other one is still there for him - particularly because he likes to switch sides alot.

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#6 of 9 Old 03-19-2010, 04:42 AM
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DD does that! I try to distract her though-- I prefer the wrinkled up shirt/bra to turning me into a squirtgun, personally!

Angie, proud Army wife to Dan, mom to Kat (4/00) and Gracie (11/09)!!
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#7 of 9 Old 03-19-2010, 06:35 AM
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Given supply increases if you pump both breasts at once (or at least you seem to get more milk out) and stimulating letdown in one breast on it's own is impossible i always assumed twiddling was to stimulate a faster flow.

My DD weaned at 7months due to health issues (mine), so i've never experienced this really. The idea squicks me out though, so i doubt i'd dig it very often!
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#8 of 9 Old 03-19-2010, 08:21 PM
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I think my son turned the nipple twiddle into a belly button twiddle. He HAS to touch and play with my belly button when he is nursing. He is nearly two and now, when he is feeling down he doesn't even need to nurse, he can just "cuddle with belly button" to make himself feel better.

Sometimes I fear he will have a little bit of a strange attraction to belly buttons when he grows older but it was always better than him trying to play with my nipple. I have some of the ultra sensitive nipples and he has both I get very nauseous.
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#9 of 9 Old 03-19-2010, 08:24 PM
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Both my kids have told me they do it to help more milk come out ie, stimulates a letdown.

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