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Toddler Boob Grabbing? Yes, It's a Thing.

Toddler Boob Grabbing? Yes, It’s a Thing.

By Amalah

Amy,

I have searched the Internet and haven’t found a similar scenario with an answer so I’m hoping you experienced this or know something more than I do. I breastfed my 16 month old daughter until she was about 10 months, she weaned herself.

In the last few months, she’s started pushing on my boobs when I’m holding her. It’s almost like she likes to push on them to see how they feel. She doesn’t reach into my shirt but she does openly push on/touch my boobs no matter where we are. She’s also done it to others who hold her but she usually stops shortly after starting because theirs are not the same (I’m very well endowed which might make a difference). Is this normal? Is this just a phase or should I be doing something to get her to stop?

Thanks,
Touched

Eh, sounds like pretty normal curiosity to me. Combined with her just sort of liking how your boobs feel, in a normal, non-sexual, “toddlers like soft round squishy things” way.

Kids pick up pretty early on that adult bodies are different and are naturally curious about the differences. I’ve always treated the curiosity as matter-of-factly as possible — real names for body parts, boys and men are different, boys and girls are different, girls and women are different too. My kids have all walked in on me changing or getting out of the shower and I’ve found the best way to Not Make It A Thing is to…well, not make it a thing. I don’t panic and hide and shoo them away, I just calmly continue and cover up, addressing any questions and ignoring the fact that a toddler just poked/grabbed my butt or boobs when I bent over.

If they idly grab my breasts while I’m holding them (always in a “these feel different than anything on my body and are nice and soft” way), I treat it the way I treat any unwanted grabbiness. Think hair-pulling, pinching or some other annoying thing toddlers’ little hands and fingers can do. Once she starts manhandling your breasts, calmly take her hand and move it elsewhere. Say no thank you, that hurts. Give her something else to hold that will keep her little hands occupied.

It’s perfectly understandable that YOU find this habit to be awkward/embarrassing, and yeah, you don’t want it to go on long enough that your boobs become some kind of ever-present lovey or comfort object to her. I’d just recommend helping her break it fairly gently, distracting her with something else as opposed to making boobs become a whole mysterious, off-limits THING. Her curiosity is normal and will likely pass in time. In the meantime, keep your diaper bag stocked with some more socially acceptable toddler playthings and loveys for her to hold and squeeze.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Comments

  • leslie

    My two-plus year old does this, too. She also likes to cuddle in the mornings for a few minutes, pulling down the tank top I wear to bed so she can get as much surface area as possible to rest her head or even nuzzle. She likes to point out my boobs (I think it’s actually cute how she says it) and if she sees me changing, says hi and bye to my boobs. I treat it pretty matter of factly, too, and as I want her to be comfy with her body, I try to make any responses low key and just go with it for now. Sometimes if it happens in public I just try to moderate it and if it becomes distracting for people I’m with, laugh it off or distract her with something else. She will eventually grow out of it. She did nurse until about three months ago, though this recent stuff is a resurgence… plus I’m about 7 months pregnant, so she may sense some changes going on. But still, I’ve tried to gauge my response to not make a big deal.

  • Rachel

    My niece did this to her mother when she was about two, long after she finished breastfeeding. Her mother usually addressed it like Amy describes, like “That hurts, please don’t touch me there.” She grew out of it pretty quickly.

  • Oh yeah totally! My son did that to me this morning actually lol. He likes to put his hand completely down my shirt when I’m rocking him before bed too. Luckily it’s never been in public but I don’t think it would bother me if he did it. I’d just do like Amy says and redirect him. The last thing I want to do is make it a big deal or shameful, so there won’t be any freaking out about it. I hope someday he’s comfortable enough to ask me about them. 

  • Amber

    Ha! Yeah, my almost three year old still does this. We nursed until a week before her 2nd birthday, so I chalk it up to that since she’s old enough to still “remember”. Whenever she’s upset, stressed, or tired her hand goes right into my shirt and she then proceeds to essentially grope me. Lol We haven’t made a big deal about it, and do pretty much exactly what Amy suggests. I distract the best I can, and move on. Hang in there! It’ll get better with time 🙂

  • Jeannie

    My (now 8 year old) son did this when he was about a year old. He would even reach down my shirt and feel around, and I was petrified when he started daycare around that age that he’d do it to the teachers — and yet, when I mention this might happen they were all, “Meh, it’s happened before. We just distract / redirect them, no big deal.” and it really wasn’t. He grew out of the phase pretty quickly.

    I would definitely second making it no big deal, though — I had a friend whose son used to do that, and she found it difficult to deal with, and through no real fault of her own that made it a big deal — and he kept doing it for YEARS and would get quite upset when not allowed, and that made HER more upset, which kept making the whole thing a big deal … not a good situation. I don’t think that’s typical, though!

  • Melinda

    I have way too many siblings – they all did this stuff when they were younger. Plus, asking why they’re different, pulling open stranger’s shirts to look, etc. My little brother was asleep in the room while I was changing. (He was about four at the time, and I was 22.) All of a sudden I heard a little voice behind me say “hey, what are those?”

    I stifled my laughter and explained that “those” are my breasts that I could use to feed my baby one day.

  • Yep, gentle redirection. Something I really really really wish I had done with my toddler’s interest in my hair. Because it is a lovey, and yet still attached to my head! You don’t want this, but don’t let fear or awkwardness make you too harsh.

  • Allison

    My 2.5 year old daughter watched me get out of the shower one day and told me “I like your boobies, can I touch them?” Kids are curious.

  • Kim too

    Wait, were they supposed to grow out of that?  Because my 8 and 4yos still pat mine if I give them half a chance. Jeesh.  I can’t wait until they get their own;-)

    • N

      My 5 year old too. heh.

  • nora1

    my 22 month-old daughter does this constantly. if i’m holding her and she’s a bit tired or needs soothing, her hands go into my top, and if i let her she would basically grope me too. i try to redirect her and take her hand away but she is a ninja – she’ll keep her hand on my shoulder for a few seconds and then do a few little creepy manoeuvres and then bam! before i’ve noticed her hand’s back in there. it’s can get a bit tiresome and i sometimes dress specifically to make it less feasible for her. she’s still breastfed, but i breastfed her brother too and i can’t remember him doing it, and some other mothers have told me kids who don’t breastfeed do it too, so i don’t think it’s necessarily connected. anyway, she’ll outgrow it. someday.

  • Jessica

    My 4yr old daughter does this to me too over my shirt she is constantly rubbing or squishing my breast it just started recently and i haven’t brest Fed in 3years i feel so uncomfortable when she does this i tell her please stop touching mommy there it hurts and it bothers me she will stop for a few min then do it again im really uncomfortable with it she has seven tried to do it once in public but only i was at the cash register paying my bill and she started putting her hand up my coat trying to reach for my breast area im releived to see this is normal i honestly didn’t think anything would pop up when i googled this but allot of things did.