Nipple twiddling while nursing- how to stop the tweeks

I thought twice about writing on this topic– it seemed almost indecent– but many moms have nervously asked me to address this this embarrassing and annoying problem.  Breastfeeding babies often twiddle the other nipple while nursing, and breaking them of the habit is no easy task.  Many babies and toddlers continue nipple twiddling after weaning.  When you and your little one are ready, there are gentle ways to to stop the tweeks and give your nipples a break.

I must admit that I’ve lived this reality: two of my five children were nipple twiddlers.

Some moms don’t mind nipple twiddling– it can be good for your milk supply.  Nipple stimulation causes mom’s brain to release NippleTwiddlinga neuro hormone called oxytocin which promotes milk production.  So the more your baby twiddles, the more more milk he or she gets, and the healthier mom’s milk supply.  Twiddling can also be very comforting and may help your baby nurse well.

And then you realize that your almost-toddler won’t get his hand out of your shirt, especially when he’s nervous in public.  All that nipple pinching can hurt, too.

The oxytocin released during nipple twiddling can also affect mom’s menstrual cycle and fertility.  If your baby is still twiddling after weaning, the oxytocin release from twiddling can cause irregular menstrual periods.

Ready to stop the twiddling?  Here’s how:

  • Give your baby something besides your nipple to play with: There are many varieties of nursing necklaces– all designed to give baby something to play with while still looking fashionable on mom.  Most are made of large beads with a variety of textures to keep baby’s fingers interested, some are made of braided fabrics.  It’s best to have a few different ones so that baby doesn’t get bored and mom has something for every outfit.  A quick online image search will show you many examples.  You can also keep a toy in your pocket or purse and pull it out each time baby nurses.  This is a good option if you forgot to put on a nursing necklace.
  • Hold hands: hold your baby’s twiddling hand, make eye contact, and talk or sing to your baby.  The distraction will keep the hand away from the nipple.
  • Get a tricky bra: A good sports bra or tight camisole can keep those hands out of your shirt.  Be ready to distract and redirect when they start to get frustrated that the breast is out-of-reach.
  • Hold your nipple: Sometimes the only way to keep that little hand off your nipple is to hold your nipple yourself, either inside your clothing or from the outside.  Your little nursling will likely be annoyed that you are clearly inhibiting access to the nipple, but in a few moments he or she will be quieted by nursing.

Is it time to wean?  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 4-6 months of age and a diet of breast milk and food until at least 12 months.  Once your baby is a year old it is safe to start cow milk or a variety of other milk options, but be aware that too much milk can cause anemia in toddlers and older children.

Need help weaning?  My colleague Dr. Lee shares her thoughts on weaning your toddler here.

Enterovirus: taking the myths out of the mystery virus

Little girl with the flu

“Mysterious”, “tip of the iceberg”, “outbreak”, the list goes on. It made me nervous to watch the news and hear those terms and see the stories. I’m not sure why. I guess it was all the sudden attention to it and the big scary words use to … [Continue reading]

What are your family’s House Rules?


Our favorite family dinner is my husband’s homemade pizza, thin crust topped with mozzarella and Parmesan. But when that pizza hit the table, the fighting and jealousy would start. Eight little hands would scramble to get the biggest pieces and fill … [Continue reading]

Did Cindy Crawford go too far: Your child’s risk of PCBs

Joe Kohen

Cindy Crawford recently pulled her children out of Malibu high school, expressing concern that the school is contaminated with PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, a chemical known to cause cancer and a host of other health problems including … [Continue reading]

Parents beware – rhinovirus is here with force!

Little girl blows her nose

Rhinovirus has hit St. Louis early this year, and it’s hit us hard.  Rhinovirus causes the common cold-- a runny nose, sore throat, and sometimes fever, abdominal pain, and muscle aches.  We usually see a surge of patients with rhinovirus each fall, … [Continue reading]

Babies after 40: Three moms’ stories


Recently I attended a delivery of a baby a baby born to a mother who was almost 50 years old.  I did a double-take when I saw her age on the chart-- this was the oldest mother I had ever seen deliver.  Her baby, who had Down Syndrome, seemed like a … [Continue reading]

Start the school year bully-free


Now that school is back in session in most districts, parents are busy with activities and events around getting back into the school routine! It's a bitter-sweet feeling for kids and parents. While the relaxed days spent with family at home and … [Continue reading]

When the news is scary, how do I talk to my kids?

As a child psychologist and mother, I still struggle with the right words to share with my child – and I’m struggling especially hard this week. How much do I share about the violence and chaos in Ferguson, as well as attempt to explain the “why” … [Continue reading]

Why marijuana should still be taboo

Cannabis leaf on grunge background, shallow DOF.

Something has changed in the past five years-- pot isn’t really considered a street drug anymore by my patients.  Marijuana use isn’t anything they feel a need to deny or hide.   With increasing frequency, my adolescent patients openly discuss their … [Continue reading]

7 steps to get back to school smoothly


It’s the time of year that provokes a myriad of emotions in parents and children - from excitement and gleeful anticipation to dread, anxiety, and apprehension.  Some children complain of summer boredom and look forward to school supply shopping and … [Continue reading]

gold ira . jailbreak iphone 5c