Every mom knows that breastfeeding is not an easy process. You are met with lots of challenges throughout your breastfeeding journey.
In the early days, your focus is on perfecting your newborn’s latch. Along with getting confident in your hold and making sure they are getting enough foremilk and hindmilk in every feed.
Not to mention trying to keep up your milk supply to meet the demand.
Then just as you have nursed your way through the cluster feeding days on very few hours of sleep, you are met with a very different challenge when your baby reaches 3-4 months old.
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The issue of getting your distracted baby to feed
Once babies hit this age they start to become more aware of you and their surroundings. Everything is interesting and this often leads them to frequently pull away from your breast to explore the world around them.
As they become more aware of you babies tend to scratch at your breasts, pull your hair and even try to stick their fingers up your nose. Making what was once a pleasurable bonding experience very uncomfortable.
It is in these cases that it is useful to have a tool at your disposal that will keep your baby’s focus whilst they are nursing.
The nursing or breastfeeding necklace is a piece of jewelry aimed at doing just that, keeping your baby entertained whilst they nurse.
Whilst you might be tempted to save your money and just allow your baby to play with your own jewelry, this comes with two main risk factors.
Firstly, Babies are surprisingly strong. They might pull down on your necklace very hard and break it.
Secondly, The small pieces on your necklace could present as a choking hazard if the necklace is broken.
Thirdly, Even if your baby doesn’t manage to break your jewelry, you cannot be sure that it wasn’t made with toxic chemicals that could be harmful to small immune systems if they ingested it. Babies love to put everything in their mouths, as you know.
The manufacturing of UK jewelry is not regulated so it is difficult to know exactly what is used when making them.
Nursing necklaces are designed to withstand constant tugging from your baby. They are made using strong materials such as silicone, natural wood, and organic fabrics. Most importantly these are non-toxic.
A lesser-known benefit of a nursing necklace is that it helps your baby develop their motor skills.
Grabbing at the beads of a nursing necklace improves your baby’s ‘pincer gasp’. Which is the ability to be able to hold an object between their thumb and forefinger.
This is a milestone that is typically reached at around 9-10 months old but can develop early.
Tips for nursing your distractible baby
- Having your baby latch on for a minute then off the next can be very frustrating and very painful if they forget to unlatch as they are looking around. But it can also lower your milk supply as your baby is feeding less and for shorter amounts of time. As well as introducing a nursing necklace as a tool to focus your baby’s attention during nursing, there are several ways you can minimize distractions.
- Find a boring room – A room that is quiet, dark, and devoid of distractions will help settle your baby. It is often why babies between the ages of 2-6 months get the majority of the rich hindmilk during their nighttime feeds. There is less going on in the background to distract them.
- Cover their face – Using a light breathable fabric such as a muslin cloth you can minimize what they see. Nursing them in a sling also works well.
- Don’t talk – As well as keeping the room boring you need to be boring yourself. Try not to talk to your little one and if you do, then keep the tone low and soothing.
- Catch them at the right time – Try to encourage your baby to feed when they have just woken up or are a little sleepy. It is also important to offer your breast often, not just when they ‘ask’ for it. Babies pull away when they hear or see something in the background. This isn’t a sign they have had enough milk so offering your breast frequently helps ensure they are getting the right amount throughout the day.
- Nurse in motion – Try to nurse whilst walking, rocking, or swaying. Your movements will relax your baby and help keep their focus on nursing.
Types of nursing necklaces
Nursing necklaces are often made for two purposes. To focus your baby whilst they feed and to provide something to chew on if they are teething.
These necklaces have been used as a handy nursing tool for years and consequently, there are hundreds of designs available.
Amber teething necklaces are made from a material called Baltic amber which is fossilized tree resin. There is a theory that this material gives an analgesic effect on sore gums.
This is because heat from the baby’s body triggers the release of a tiny amount of oil containing succinic acid. This is said to then be absorbed into the skin. This has not been scientifically proven.
But the beads are sturdy enough to be chewed and the majority of necklaces are made with silver which can be tugged at without breaking.
Made using non-toxic natural wood. These necklaces come in a variety of colors to compliment any outfit and different-sized beads, often made from silicone.
These chunky beads are purposefully designed to be grabbed and twiddled by your baby to keep them distracted.
Often these nursing necklaces have a safety magnetic clasp so if tugged firmly it will simply come off your neck rather than cause harm to your neck.
Fabric Nursing Necklace DIY
If you are feeling particularly creative you can make your own nursing necklace instead of buying one.
All you will need is the following,
- A handful of large wooden beads
- 1.5 meters of cotton fabric in whatever style you choose.
- Needle and Thread
The necklace is shaped by folding the fabric in half and sewing the seam to create a tube. You then turn the fabric inside out and tie a knot in one end.
Drop the first bead into the tube and tie a knot in the fabric around it. Continue this process with all other beads.
Once finished you will have a stylish fabric nursing necklace that your baby can play with whilst they nurse.
You will find more detailed tutorial videos on youtube.
As well as providing a distraction for babies whilst they are feeding a nursing necklace can double up as a useful teething tool.
The teething process can be very painful for babies who are teething causing them to cry out and unlatch from the breast often.
Having a necklace made out of chunky silicone beads on hand can offer comfort to their sore gums. These nursing necklaces are made out of food-grade safe silicone and can be easily cleaned after use.
Whichever type of necklace you choose there are a couple of features you should look out for.
It goes without saying you should make sure the materials on your necklace are non-toxic.
You should opt for a long necklace, one that you can put on over your head one-handed should you be carrying your baby.
Having a shorter thread with a fiddly clasp will only make nursing more stressful as you struggle to juggle getting it on with your crying baby in tow.
If it does have a clasp you should choose one that is magnetic or comes apart easily if yanked hard.
In summary, nursing necklaces have been hailed as a lifesaver for women who have quite literally been bruised black and blue from their babies pinching and scratching their skin.
Breastfeeding a curious baby can not only be challenging but comes with the risk that your baby isn’t getting as much milk as they need because they are pulling away from the breast too often.
Wearing a nursing necklace gives them something interesting to play with. With beads that vary in texture, size and can often be chewed these necklaces help your baby focus.
They can be worn from as early as 3 months and even provide comfort during the teething phase. These necklaces can be bought in many different shapes and styles which will match your outfits.
Meaning they can easily replace your usual jewelry that only risks getting broken by your baby’s firm grip but could also be made from harmful toxic chemicals.
Along with wearing a nursing necklace, there are several handy tips you can incorporate into feeding time to help keep your baby calm and relaxed and minimize potential distractions
Breastfeeding a distractible baby does not have to be something you dread. You can soon get back to being the wonderful bonding experience you once enjoyed.