Why Does Baby Twiddle? Should You Discourage It?

You may take days to months when it comes to understanding the cues given by your baby. Pulling away of your baby from your breast nipple at the time of breastfeeding, also referred to as twiddling, can imply various things. You should not get discouraged or worried when this occurs. A baby who gains weight steadily and is satisfied after feeding demonstrates that she’s getting sufficient milk during each session of breastfeeding.

Why Does Baby Playing with Nipple While Nursing Mean?

Milk Flow Is Too Slow

If the flow of milk from your breasts is too slow, your baby can get frustrated due to lack of milk. She may pull off on the nipple hoping that more milk will flow when she will latch back. You should do gentle massage of your breasts to promote the flow of milk. A newborn baby will usually fall asleep instead of pulling away when milk flow is slow; hence, if your baby is couple of weeks old, then she will not pull away due to this cause.

Milk Flow Is Too Fast

If the milk from your breasts is flowing too quickly, your baby may become overwhelmed and pull off as she is trying to get a break from feeding. You can easily tell this if milk squirts or sprays whenever baby pulls away from your nipple. Hold your baby in the upright position, while take your body slightly back so that the throat of your baby is higher in comparison to your breast. Your baby can control the milk flow in a much better way. You can also try feeding your baby from the other breast as the milk flow may be slower in that breast.

Bad Latch

What does baby playing with nipple while nursing mean? The mouth of your baby should be positioned in a right way on the nipple for the milk to be drawn in her mouth. If this latch or attachment is not right, your baby may pull off to try again. You should help her latch in the right way by using your finger to open her mouth and then putting the nipple in her mouth, while pulling her close towards you. Ensure that her lips are in a pout instead of being pulled on her gums. You should push down your breast area near your baby’s nose so that she can breathe comfortably and get more air.

Baby's Full

Once your baby begins getting full, she may pull off to decide whether she would like more milk or not. If this is the cause of pulling away, it must happen only towards the end of a breastfeeding session, after your baby is feeding for at least 12-15 minutes. If this is the case, let your baby show when she is through her feeding. Help your baby latch back on your breast and see if she continues feeding. If she pulls off again and looks calm and content, consider that the feeding is done and continue with burping her.

Should I Let My Baby Twiddle?

You already know the reason of baby playing with nipple while nursing. Then should you let your baby twiddle?

Twiddling during breastfeeding can be beneficial and sweet for both you and your baby. However, every nursing couple should do what suits them best. If letting your baby twiddle makes you uncomfortable as a mother to such an extent that instead of that you would think of stopping nursing, thenit is likely be best for you to discourage your baby to twiddle. Many consider twiddling as a disadvantage to breastfeeding. However, to many mothers, twiddling causes only mild irritation and they see nothing wrong in their babies continuing with the practice.

Pros of Twiddling

  • It helps in encouraging a good supply of milk as it allows more letdowns in each session of nursing resulting in better emptying of your breasts.
  • It allows your baby to focus in a better manner on the task of feeding.
  • Twiddling is usually very comforting or calming for your baby.

Cons of Twiddling

  • While twiddling, your baby may twist, pull or pinch the nipple, which may cause pain.
  • Some babies may become so fond of or habitual to twiddling that they are upset when not permitted to do so (as in some social situations).
  • Sometimes it can become really annoying.

How to Stop Baby Playing with Nipple While Nursing

Following are the steps to stop your baby twiddling while breastfeeding:

  • Give her something to play apart from your nipple: Many types of nursing necklaces are available. They all are designed in such a manner that they not only give your baby some object to play but also look fashionable on you as a mother. Majority of them are made up of large beads which have various textures that keep the fingers of your baby interested, while some of them are made up of braided fabric. It is recommended to buy few of them of different types so that your baby does not lose interest and you have something to wear with every dress. You can search online for these necklaces. You can keep a toy with you (either in your purse or your pocket). You can pull it out every time you nurse your baby. This can be a good option in case you forgot to wear a nursing necklace.
  • Hold your baby’s hands: Hold the twiddling hand of your baby, make eye contact with her and sing or talk to her. This distraction will help her keep her hand away from your nipple.
  • Wear a tricky bra: A tight camisole or good sports bra may help in keeping your baby’s hands away from your shirt. However, when your baby begins to get frustrated by the fact that your breast is non reachable, try to distract her by singing and talking to her.
  • Hold the nipple with your hand: Sometimes to keep your baby’s hand off the nipple you have to hold the nipple yourself, either from outside or inside your clothes. Your baby may become annoyed by seeing that you are not letting her access your nipple; however, within some time she will get quite by breastfeeding.