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Toddler Breast Fascination

The Parents Network > Advice > Advice about Breastfeeding > Breastfeeding a Toddler > Toddler Breast Fascination


Help! My 22 month old son has recently become very fascinated with breasts...mine and my friends. He was breastfed and never seemed to find them that interesting. Suddenly though, he points at, pats and squeezes my breasts any chance he gets. He's begun doing it to my friends. Whenever he sees a child being breastfed, he wanders over and basically tries to do the same. I'm not sure if he's too early for the "body boundary" talk or if this is just a phase. I'm pregnant with #2 and have visions of him wanting to bf again when the baby is born. Has anyone else ever experienced this? Thank you in advance
Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with a toddler who has given up breast feeding but not the breast? My 19 month old son breast fed until he was 15-1/2 months old, when he pretty much gave it up on his own (the bottle or cup were alot less work.) Over the last few months however, he seems to be more and more attached to my chest. At first it was just as he snuggled in my lap with a cup, he'd feel around and make sure they were still there. Now, whenever I hold him be it alone at home or walking down the street, he prefers to lovingly cup one in each hand. He likes to press his face into one, through a shirt, and blow air, then smile and pat it lovingly. He is not interested in actually nursing. We talk about how breasts are for feeding babies, and that he nursed when he was a baby but now he drinks milk from a cup, so sometimes he says "baby baby" as he pats or squeezes or blows. Now I was very happy to breast feed as long as we did, but to be honest I loved getting my body back and this is really driving me nuts. It's something that happens every time we're close, which is alot. We've tried to get him to bond with a blanket, even wrapping it around his wandering hand, which seems marginally successful. He is a wonderful, great loving little boy who sleeps well and doesn't give us much grief at all, so should I just not mess with things, surrender my chest (my strategy so far, hoping it would become de-mystified and boring - backfire) and try not to care what the bank teller thinks about my toddler bra? Any thoughts would really be appreciated! Thanks!

When I first started nursing my daughter, I thought I should adopt the attitude that my breasts "belonged" to her. I got over that pretty soon, though, when she started to want to twiddle the "other" nipple while nursing at the one--drove me totally up the wall, made me mad, etc. I stopped that by simply covering my other breast with my hand or arm. I didn't say no or whatever--I didn't want to make her think there was anything "wrong" with what she wanted to do--I merely imposed a physical obstacle. Even a year later, she still occasionally lets her hand wander over there, and I still peacefully barricade my breast from her hand.

In your scenario, I would be very uncomfortable having my child cuddling my breasts in public, or probably even at home, for that matter. So I wouldn't be inclined to propose that you pretend you don't mind. It sounds like you have a very affectionate, close connection with your son, which is a precious thing, and I would worry that introducing that kind of "lie," if you will, would affect the closeness--the two of you won't actually be on the same wavelength on this issue. Instead, I would try to find some other gentle way of ending his habit. You could try just saying "I don't like that" and pushing his hand away. Maybe after a bunch of times of that non-gratifying response, he would get the message. If you want it to stop right away, you could always let your anger/irritation show a bit--tell him to stop, with an edge on it. Or you could try other things that might make it less gratifying--wear a heavy jacket for a while (sorry, I don't know what the weather "back home" is like just now) or put a stiff piece of cardboard under your shirt for a while.


It's definitely fair to say that your breasts are "off-limits." This would match your preference AND cultural norms in the US! The question is how to communicate this to a toddler. I would try a mix of verbal--"my breasts are private" (which can later be extended to a more general discussion of genitals) and non-verbal--removing his hand, putting him down and holding hands, taking him on errands in a backpack so he can't reach :). Both my kids went through this to some extent and they both stopped being attached to my breasts and we still have a close, cuddly relationship.
My 2.5 year old son also had a strong breast fascination starting around age 18 months. He exhibited the same behavior you described, and continues to do so on occasion. He too was breast fed, but only until about age 4 months. I handle(d) his poking and other unwelcome physical exploration by consistently telling him I did not enjoy it -- and that it was not nice to do it to other women either. I think my reactions were always calm and measured -- unless of course he actually hurt me. I tried not to react any differently than I would if he poked me in the stomach, which he also does from time to time. I think generally kids this age are just curious about everything, and perhaps realizing that different people have different body shapes and parts. If my kid is any benchmark, they will learn soon enough about body boundaries and either grow out of his fascination or learn to moderate it.
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this page was last updated: Aug 3, 2004


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