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.

B.

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

I'm dealing with a similar situation with my 7 month old and he's been doing this for quite a while...he used to scratch my chest or dig his nails in...he didn't know it hurt...he then graduated to hitting as well....
It took some time, two weeks, but I used to take his hand and say " be gentle" and have him softly stoke my cheek and I would also touch his cheek the same way after and he'd smile. He caught on and it stopped the hitting.
I still find that he needs to do something to pass the time and I usually let him play with my fingers and if he starts to do something painful...say be gentle and play with his hand...
I hope that this is helpful for you and take care

1 mom found this helpful

I'm not sure if this is causing the hitting or not, but our pediatrician told us that by 12 months our son should be sitting at the table for all three meals and eating with the family - eating table foods and whole milk (or nursing). We started with baby food around 6 months and he was eating three solid meals a day by 12 months. Could he just possibly be feeling more hungry than the nursing is taking care of?

1 mom found this helpful

Put a little pillow where he hits you. You are a human punching bag, like I was when I was nursing my babes. Your baby is totally normal. All kids go through this. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I had a little hitter too. He is now 14 months old. I don't believe that he hits to be mean. I think it's just something that is fun and entertaining to them. I grabbed my babies hand and used a very stern "NO". Sometimes, if that didn't work I would stop nursing, say "NO Hitting" and then turn my back to him in a very displeased way. Just be consistant and your son will stop.

Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter pinched for a while, and there was also a time when she was fascinated with a mole on my neck. After a few times of telling her no and holding her hands, I followed the same advice I was given for when/if she bit: I unlatched her, set her a few feet away from me, and said emphatically 'I said no!'

Of course she cried the first couple of times, but after that, when I'd tell her 'no' when she'd start and unwanted behavior, I'd follow up with 'stop or no more me-mes'. She got that there was a consequence to her behavior.

It's a great opportunity to teach kindness, respect and boundaries as well. It's never ok to hit, and there are consequences. If he wants to cuddle and nurse, he has to be nice or he can't. Period. End of story. Nice, but firm, and nothing ambiguous about it.

By the time they are one, they 'get' the consequences/actions idea. After all, they are masters at the 'if I drop this, how many times can I get you to pick it up' game.

Around this time, I also started ideas about sharing. She still nursed at night, in the morning, naps, and when she was upset or tired (in other words, plenty), but I began pointing out that I was sharing, paving the way for when I couldn't (or didn't want to) share. By the time she was two, I could explain, 'these are MY me-mes, and I love you and will share with you, but you may NOT demand because sometimes I can't share with you'. I did this along with the principle that sharing was good and nice and it's important to share, but it is also ok to not share special things, (in addition to 'my body is my body and yours is yours'). I also always asked her 'can I kiss your nose', 'can I give you a big hug'...giving her the message she also had power to say 'no' to anyone being in her own space.

It worked great. In fact, she had one toy she was very protective of, and I would tell her, you don't have to share that, but if you don't plan to share, you must put it away because it's not polite to play with it if your friend can't play with it too. We never did have the 'MINE' issue that so many kids go through.

She also has always felt comfortable with her own boundaries and chooses who she will allow in very carefully.

K. Wildner, HypnoBirthing Instructor
____@____.com

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,
It's nice to meet another believer on the website! We love the Lord too!
In response to your question, my 2nd son was a hitter during nursing as he got older 10 months or so too- he also pulled my hair (hard!). It was kind of annoying, but eventually I started playing little games with his free hand.... like counting games, this little piggy, I would pretend I was eating his fingers for lunch, etc. I also started taking his hand and showing him "nice touches"- touching my nose, touching my ear, touching my chin, all nice touching, etc. This usually kept him distracted long enough to finish nursing since he was a pretty quick eater by this time. I weaned him at about 13 months but I would say this hitting stage for him lasted about 6 weeks or a little longer....
Hope this helps some...
Tami

1 mom found this helpful

One of my kids pinched when nursing. At first it was just annoying, and then it started to hurt. I decided to give her a warning "NO!" at the first pinch, and the next time, put her down and walk away. Boy was she mad!! I waited a short while (10-15 min) and we tried again. If she pinched again, I put her down and left again. It only took a few days to get better, a few weeks to be gone.

1 mom found this helpful

Would music or reading to him while nursing help? I know my sone would pinch my side as I nursed him and I ignored it for a long time however finally got to a point where it hurt. I scoled him for the action and made like I was crying. It was a little disturbing to him and really scared him... which made it all stop.
Not sure my suggestion will work for you but it's what worked for me!
Good Luck and don't give up nursing, they need it to become strong individuals in our funture.

1 mom found this helpful

Good for you for breastfeeding still. What a wonderful gift you are giving your son. Chances are he doesn't realize he is doing it. If he has a favorite stuffed animal, blanket, or something, I would encourage him to hold that and fiddle with that while nursing, something to keep his hand busy. Or you could try wearing a necklace or bracelet that he could play with to keep his hand busy. If that doesn't work, he is old enough to learn that if he hits you, the nursing session ends and you will put him down. As soon as he does it, I would tell him "No hitting Mommy. That hurts." and put him down. I would try again after a minute or two, but if he does it again, I would do the same thing, but also tell him no more nursing and be done until the next time you would normally nurse him. He will catch on pretty quickly.

The other thing is, you may want to start giving him more table foods. At 11 mos, most babies are getting off baby food and graduating to table food - with 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day, including a cup with water, breastmilk, or formula in it. He may not be getting enough with nursing and only one real meal per day. Have him sit at the table with you for every meal and serve him mostly the same things you and the rest of your family is eating.

Good luck and congrats on the breastfeeding this long.

S.
mom of 3 (nursed them all) and daycare provider

1 mom found this helpful

M.,

At this age they hit because they are learning to use their arms. It's nothing personal. If it hurts, just continue to hold his hand down, give him something to hold or distract him. It will pass, you just have to be patient. Don't think he will grow up to be a bully. All my kids went through this.

Good luck,
S.

1 mom found this helpful

When a child hits or pulls on your breast while nursing, it's typically because they aren't getting enough to eat. AT almost one year old, your child should be eating three meals a day not just lunch. I would get him going on breakfast cereal asap. I am using the single grain oatmeal for my daughter (8 months) and she just loves it. My son didn't like the rice cereal so I tried this with her and found great success. You can mix it with breast milk so the nutrients are still there and you control the consistency. I would make it medium thick as you can always soften it by adding more milk. I would also get your son eating more food at meals; black beans were a big success in our house for my son. They are the perfect size and are loaded with protein and fiber! Just open a can, drain and rinse. Fresh fruit is abundant now and that's always a good snack and a great way to broaden their taste experience quickly. My son was also (and still is) hooked on cheese rollups; one tortilla with shredded cheese in the microwave for about 20 seconds and then roll. I like them too because they don't make any crumbs!

Good luck

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