I am trying to get my almost 15-month-old to ask for nursies in a better way. We've taught her from early on the sign for nurse or "milk" but she just doesn't do it even though she knows how. She pats (or really hits) my chest, pulls at my shirt or burying her head in my chest when she wants to nurse. I have no intention of denying her nursies when she asks for it this way as I just love that she is still asking for it. However, as she gets older, I want her to just sign milk when she wants it. We nurse on demand day and night.
Also, she's doing this thing where she plays with my other nipple when she's nursing. She pulls and twists at it and when I try to pull my shirt down over the other breast, she gets mad and stops nursing. It doesn't really hurt too much as my nipples are pretty tough, but it is soooo annoying. Any ideas to get her to stop one or both of these things?
I snagged a phrase from another mom: "Gentle hands!" When my LO is doing all the tugging, pulling, grabbing, etc while nursing, I gently grab her hand and say that we don't do that to mommy because it hurts mommy, grab a gentle but firm grip on her hands, and show her how we use "gentle hands." I say it firmly but sing-song-y so she understands I mean business but I'm not angry with her. I've mostly gotten her out of the habit. Now, I can just say gentle and she stops all the whacking and slapping, and usually just leaves her hands in a more polite place.
As for how I get her to ask, our family decided on a code word for nursing. I knew one little guy who'd ask his Mama for "nay." I've also heard ba, num-num, bee-bee, among others. So my LO just says her code word and I know what she's looking for. For my own comfort in social situations, I did not want to have a two-year-old running around screaming, "MOMMY, breastfeed me NOW!" ;-)
We also have a code word - my DS (16 months) asks for "na-no". He does use it around other people but they don't know what he is asking, which is nice. Before we settled on "na-no" as the word for nursing, I tried to get him to sign "milk" for it, but that never worked. I think the reason that na-no worked is because he came up with the word himself, and I just decided to reinforce it. He took to it pretty quickly.
However, I will say that when he is desparate to nurse, he does also paw at or try to stick his hand down my shirt in addition to saying "na-no." So it doesn't work perfectly, but it works for most situations.
I'm interested in this as well.
I've been signing while I say, "milk please" to DS since he was 4 months old. He is now 15 months and has only signed to me a handful of times. He only has 1 word (we're starting speech therapy in a few weeks) and it has nothing to do with milk. The only way that he consistently asks to nurse is by grabbing the Boppy in his room and bringing it to me (impressive strength for a 1st percentile baby!)... And he only does that if we're in his room together. It's not a helpful strategy when we're outside of his room, let alone outside the house.
From time to time DS will get fussy when he wants to nurse. Eventually I'll ask, "Do you want milk please?" as I make the corresponding sign. Often he will light up and nod yes. I'm not sure why he can't ask himself in some way. He points to other things that he wants, but never to my chest. He doesn't even grab at my shirt. Odd.
I got tired of the shirt grabbing, chest banging about 2 months ago when DS was 15 months. I had been signing milk to him for some time, and if I asked him if he wanted milk (using the sign) he knew exactly what I meant.
So, when he started the shirt grabbing/chest banging, I just put a confused look on my face and said/signed "milk?" and helped him with his hands to sign. We did this several times (while he's getting more and more agitated about wanting to nurse), and then he finally made some sort of hand motion, and I said "YES, milk!" and immediately gave him boob.
It took about 2 days, and he totally had the sign down, but I would not nurse him until he made the sign. He's a boob monster, and I think he was developmentally ready to sign, so it worked quickly. However, I feel like if a nursling understands enough to whack at my chest, and grab my shirt, they probably can figure out the signing at that point? Maybe not perfectly, but enough so that they are doing something with their hands that doesn't involve mauling you :)
DS has very impolite hands when he is overtired, so if he doesn't stop with a "gentle!" reminder, I usually just tuck his blankie tightly over his chest and hands so he can't reach me :)
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