Why Does My Baby Scratch Me While Nursing? Cause And Solutions

Peaceful nursing only lasts for the initial 2-3 months after birth, but after your little one turns 3 months old, their motor skills kick in, and nursing is no longer peaceful. As your baby grows and their motor skills start developing, they can’t help but do various things like pinching, scratching, biting, or smacking.

A significant part of continuing this behavior of scratching is to get a reaction from you. While most babies do that to get a response, another reason could be their realization of the basics of cause and effect. This means there is a huge developmental leap both cognitively and socially. This activity increases between the period of 6-9 months.

Some babies are pretty gentle while nursing, and you might not even be troubled by them and find them cute. But that’s not the case with every child, and so if your little one has started doing all the things mentioned above, then this article is what you need to help you!

Reasons your baby scratches while nursing

As I briefly mentioned earlier, there are reasons why your baby scratches you even more while nursing. There are two main reasons why they start doing it more often and with more force than before.

  • One is that they realize that whenever they scratch you, they get a reaction out of you. It’s a game for your baby when they know that whenever they scratch, you react to it every time. They tend to do it again and again as they are practically also bored and have to do something while feeding.
  • Another reason is also intermingled with the first one, which is realizing basic cause and effect. As your baby’s cognitive abilities start to develop, they notice that whenever they do anything to you, like pulling at your hair or scratching you, there is always an effect to it. You end up reacting to it differently.

As long as there is an effect on their activity with you reacting to it, they will keep doing it and enjoy it. Your little one doesn’t realize the limit to the actions and considers it a game with you.

How to stop your baby from scratching while nursing?

At first, when your little one starts moving around their hands and feet, it might seem cute. But soon, you realize that they have started doing it with more force, and to be honest, you have started getting annoyed by it.

Worry not, as there are various ways that you can choose from, or even try all, one by one if your baby can’t stop scratching you.

Clipping nails

A mom is cutting her infant baby's nails, so he doesn't scratch her again during the next breastfeeding session.

The simplest and yet effective way to stop your little one from scratching you anymore is clipping their nails. Not only is it helpful when you are nursing your little munchkin, but clipping their nails is also beneficial from a more sanitary point of view.

When you clip their nails, it takes away their power of scratching you and hurting you. Also, as babies tend to put their hands in their mouth often, clipping their nails would ensure no dirt gets collected in them.

Mittens to cover hands

You can also take away their power of scratching or any other activity by putting mittens or even socks on their hands while you’re nursing. So, you won’t have to keep restricting their movement, and they can’t scratch you anymore as well.

This is an excellent way of letting them move their hands and develop their motor skills without you getting hurt in the process.

Nursing necklace

Just as when you place your baby in their respective cots and hang a mobile to keep them distracted while also helping them develop their cognitive and visual abilities, a nursing necklace can also help similarly.

When you start nursing, wear a nursing necklace that will keep your baby distracted from doing anything to hurt you. This is completely harmless as the necklace is very strong and made from non-toxic beads and components. As your baby feeds, they can pull at it and play with it.

Playing games

You can play different kinds of games while you nurse your baby, which can distract them from scratching you. Keeping them busy as you nurse is another effective measure that you can use. While this might not happen at first, you can establish some fun games to play with your baby within few days.

You can play a number game with them as you start counting with your fingers and ask them to do the same using their hands. You can get a color book and ask them which color is which by pointing at it. You can even read them stories to keep them distracted.

Firm no

This takes a little time to get used to with a lot of patience. When you start experiencing scratching in excess, you can start forming a habit of saying no. So, whenever they scratch you, you should look at them and say no with a straight face, not too harsh or too soft, but a firm no should do the trick.

If you laugh, they won’t take you seriously and think that you’re playing a game with them, and if you’re too harsh, they might start crying. You need to strike a balance, and when you do, you need to keep at it whenever they scratch you. Soon they will begin to realize and grasp the concept of what they shouldn’t do and learn to control their hands and not hurt you by scratching.

Power of reaction

This one is difficult to follow, and you might not be able to do it every time, but worth a shot. As I explained before that, your little munchkin doesn’t realize that it’s not a game to scratch you while nursing and that they think of it as a game; a game where they do something, and you react to it differently.

To stop playing it, you can stop giving any reaction to them at all. The tricky part is that you can’t always control your response, but you can try. When you stop giving them any reaction, they might stop going that far with their hands. A bonus would be that when they scratch, you don’t provide them with a response and instead pull away from nursing them.

It might be a little harsh, and so I would suggest this as a last resort when you have exhausted all other options, and you’re just fed up. So, when your baby realizes that scratching you would take away their food, they will start limiting it and might stop one day altogether!

Too much energy

A happy young baby girl sitting in her walker, smiling with lots of energy.

A lot of fidgeting also occurs when your little one is full of energy and hasn’t got a chance to spend it before, and then they throw around their hands or legs a lot while nursing. You might have noticed them getting irritated or not even correctly feeding and kicking all the time.

A simple solution is to stop nursing as soon as you notice this and take them to play around with you. Do activities around the house, which involve running to spend their excess energy. Nurse them later on when they have calmed down.

How to stop scratching when you’re nursing outside?

When you’re inside and nurse your little one there, then even if there is a little bit of scratching and playfulness from them, you can handle it, but things change if you’re nursing outside. You need to make sure your baby doesn’t throw tantrums and feeds peacefully.

For this teaching them about what is acceptable and what is not is of great importance. Here the measure of saying a ‘firm no’ comes in, and while you’re at it, you might as well teach them some other phrases. You can also use a code word for nursing with them, so if they are hungry, they can communicate with you using that instead of using their own form of communication.

Of course, feeding them with a bottle is always a safe option, but sometimes that option might not be available to you. So, teaching your baby from early on about what is acceptable is essential.

To Summarize

We started by diving deep into why your baby starts scratching while nursing—two significant reasons popped up getting a reaction from you and the cause-and-effect scenario. We learned how your baby from 3 months onwards starts developing their motor skills, leading to an increase in such activities while you are nursing.

After which, we explored various options and tips that you can use to stop your child from scratching you and making them understand what is not acceptable. I would suggest making your child know from the beginning about what is not tolerable is the best option in the longer run.

At the end of the day, you understand your child the best, and so only you can know how to handle them best, but I hope the tips I have provided above have made things much better for you!

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As a writer for 1happykiddo, Saumya wants to help new parents and older siblings help raise the newest member added to the family. Her parenting tips come from her experience of being 15 years older than her youngest sibling. When not writing, you can find her reading novels, traveling, and cooking nutritious meals.

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