19 answers

11 Month Old That Hits While Breastfeeding

My son will be 1 at the beginning of June and he is still very attatched to breastfeeding. However, at least one or two feedings a day are a struggle because he'll sit there and hit me with his hand as he nurses.

I have tried ending the feeding, holding his hand to stop him, and telling him verbally to stop. Nothing has worked. He is still getting most of his nurishment from nursing but does eat lunch with us. (He sits at the table and will eat a couple bites at other meals and snacks....)

I should clarify, he does sit at the table and eat all meals and snacks with us. However, lunch is the only meal that he eats a substantial amount. We always offer nutritious foods but when he's done he shakes his head no and we let him stop then. We have never force fed him and when he shakes his head no, he also no longer opens his mouth for more food.

Has anyone had this problem with their nursing children and what else can I try to stop this behavior? Any ideas would be appreciated... Thanks.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I tried a couple things but I have to say, I agree with those of you who said he was bored. Wearing a necklace works best for keeping his hands busy while nursing but if I give him anything to hold he stops hitting (although he will throw it down and play "that game" which is why the necklace is the best.) Thanks for the great advice.

More Answers

He's not really hitting you M., he's trying to get your attention - to "play" while he nurses. Which is sweet if you think about it.

Give him something to hold that he loves while he nurses. Make a ritual out of it: "It's time to nurse, where's your (Ernie doll, blankie, nursing buddy...) ?"

This will redirect nursing time back to cuddle time instead of play time.

3 moms found this helpful

He is just interacting with you. One of mine hit, and I held out my hand so he could hit my hand (like in the "gimme five" motion). He wasn't being mean, he was sort of in a trance of contentment while he did it. Then I gentled him to patting me, by whispering "gentle" and showing him what I meant.

It has nothing to do with getting enough milk.

Many nursing babies like to "fiddle around" while nursing. One of mine needed to run his finger back and forth over my belly button. He actually continued that as a comfort after weaning! I let him because it didn't bug me and it was sweet.

Another of mine wanted to twirl my other nipple while he nursed, which I simply redirected - moved his hand over to a more acceptable (to me) area for him to rub. Every now and then he would try again, and give a little chuckle as I moved his hand away. But I didn't let it turn into a game. I gently moved his hand away without saying anything at all. He got the idea without a lot of fun attention to make him want to keep it up.

My daughter was a little gymnast, and I had to keep her from turning all around while nursing so that her feet were in my face. Yikes!

Just gently set the limits by redirecting and don't over-react which makes it into a game. Enjoy these days - they are over too soon!

2 moms found this helpful

One of mine did something like this. I think it was for one of two reasons ususally. He was enjoying it so much, he didn't realize what he was doing. And then as I got closer to weaning, it was because I think he had to work really hard to get milk.

I'm going to guess that you nurse with him sitting upright now that he's older? Try changing the position in which you feed him so that you can restrict his arms a bit, or he won't be able to reach you as easily. I know he's probably alot bigger, but maybe lay him across your lap??

He is also old enough to understand you and get an idea about feelings etc. Explain to him that he's hurting you and it's making you unhappy. Tell him he won't be able to continue getting milk this way if he can't be nicer.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm wondering if it is developmental. My 11-month old has recently started clapping my hand while nursing. I hold my hand there and he claps it, and I say "CLAP, clap" and he smiles. Brain development is going on as babies nurse and they move around. (This from chiropractic student sister)

1 mom found this helpful

How wonderful that you are nursing him!! I am a mother of three wonderful children & have nursed the 1st two through toddlerhood!!! (My 3rd is only 4 months old)
1st is your son distracted? Should you go in a quiet/darkened room? Is he very overtired? Does he have any other attachment objects? Blankie, stuffed animal, etc.
I ask because I wonder if he needs something else soothing him while he nurses? My 1st child loved to play with a beaded necklace while he nursed (as he got older) so it kept his hands busy, my 2nd one rubbed the edge of his blankie for additional comfort. I was a member of La Leche League for quite a while & I often heard of the beaded necklace as a wonderful way to keep their hands busy! Good Luck! Let me know how it works!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,

I nursed my youngest son (now 3) until he was 18 months. He used to pinch me while he was nursing. I think it's a sensory thing or a comforting, soothing action. This doesn't make it any less painful. I would continue to do what you are doing 1) hold his hand, 2) tell him 'NO' 3) tell him if he doesn't stop, feeding time is over and he can get a bottle instead. Then . . .follow through. Don't give in to his crying and insisting on continuing to breastfeed. If he's serious about wanting to nurse, he'll get the idea and stop hitting you. But you have to stick to your decision to end the session and don't give in.

Another approach might be to give him a small stuffed animal to hold in his free hand. (He may just continue to hit you with that though. :( Good luck. Be firm and you will both benefit, trust me, they want you to be the boss.


A little about me: SAHM of 3 year old boy, 13 year old boy and 14 year old girl, married 25 years to my college sweetheart. Even my big kids want the discipline and follow through . . .it gives them security that they can count on me to keep my word.

1 mom found this helpful

My 7 month old does something similar--and I'm starting to wonder if he's just not hungry (or hungry enough) when I am offering to nurse him. I'm not a nutrition expert, and my kids have always been very good eaters (both nursing and adult foods) but it seems he might be ready for more meals a day? I know my son sometimes "rejects" the breast when I offer it--he wants solid foods, even though I'd prefer to nurse him before he sits down to eat (he's 7 1/2 months and 25 pounds--but very healthy).

1 mom found this helpful

Is he swatting his hand as a rhythmic, boredom movement? Sometimes adults tap their feet or cross their legs and bounce the crossed leg while they are sitting down. When my kids would keep hitting at me, I would grab their hand and rub circles on their inner palm with my thumb, or swing their arm back and forth--just not letting them hit my face!

About me: I'm a SAHM of 5 and nursed my kids for 7 years.

1 mom found this helpful

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