Child's Fascination with Breasts

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  • 5 yr old son wont stop touching my breasts

    (9 replies)

    My 5-year-old son can not stop touching my breasts.  He does not do it to other women, just me.  He will walk up to me and just rest his hands on them.  He will reach and touch them when I strap him into his car seat.  He rubs/caresses them in his sleep as if they are his security blanket.  He motorboats me. The list goes on and on. I am at my wit's end trying to get him to stop.  I move his hands away, tell him no, slap his hands, tell him "no boobies".   We have had the talk about how our bodies are private and nobody should touch your private parts. His father says it is because I breastfed him too long until he was 2.5.   I know that is not the reason and it needs to be stopped.  I don't know what else to do as nothing I have tried has worked, although it has become less often since SIP began.

    [Moderator note: this question has been asked quite a few times in the past. See "Child's Fascination with Breasts" ]

    This sounds developmentally normal and I agree with you that it's not because you breast-fed too long.  It also sounds like something that you are uncomfortable with and that you are ready to have him stop doing this.  It sounds like you are already giving him good clear messages about the fact that you don't like him to touch your body in this way.  It's possible that he is testing limits and is responding to your discomfort. It's also possible that he's just seeking comfort because breasts were a way that he got comfort from you for a long time.  It seems like it's important to calmly and firmly continue the message that this isn't how you want to be touched by him.  At the same time, can you offer him another form of comfort and cuddling.  "I don't want you to touch my breasts, but I would like to give you a cuddle and hug if you want to do that." Is there a comfort object that he likes that he could hold while you are snuggling with him?  If he doesn't stop when you ask and redirect him, I think you could try standing up, moving away, and physically (and gently) stopping him.  But maybe just for a moment, and then as soon as he's stopped, come back and offer the alternative form of comfort and physical closeness.  Over time it seems like the combination of the calm and firm limits with the other ways of being close to you will help him move on from the breast obsession.  It also sounds like getting your husband on board with the plan would be important. If your son is hearing your husband's disapproval of his behavior, that may also make it into a bigger deal and increase his persistence. 

    My son is the same however, in this case luckily, I don’t have a husband telling me what to do. He finds comfort and security in them which makes sense! It’s your husband sexualizing this not your son. As long as your ok with it and it doesn’t bother you that’s all that matters. He understands not in public like his other favorite, being naked. In my experience it lessens and then stops. I would trust your own intuition and tell your husband to mind his own. 😉 

    His dad is half right, as your son is certainly seeking comfort from your breasts - but he's way wrong that you breastfed "too long." In fact the WHO recommends breastfeeding for a minimum of 2 years. Of course he doesn't do it to other women - it has nothing to do with breasts being breasts or a sexual part of women - it's just a very comforting, nurturing part of his MOM. It sounds like you might be feeling like the fact that he's your son, vs your daughter, is part of this. I can assure you it's not. I have close friends with girls who stroked and lay on their mom's breasts for YEARS - until much older than 5. This is, IMO, well in the range of normal. Punishing him by slapping or anything else harsh is inappropriate. Why do you think it's happening less since SiP began? I would guess it's partly that he's slowly maturing, and partly that he has you around more, and feels less anxiousness and need for you. The more secure and loved he feels, the less he'll seek comfort in ways you don't like. 

    My son did this too, and after a while (but later than 5!), I needed him to stop, at least in public. He could understand this - when he was awake. Your little one will not be able to stop caressing you in his sleep! We bought a lovey together - a very soft stuffed animal. And when he started to stroke me and I wanted him to stop, I'd kindly say, "where's your panda? this is a good moment for panda." etc. and hand over the bear. Just redirect like you would any other toddler or young child behavior. They're learning, so teach - with compassion. No way can he grasp that your breasts - his food, drink, comfort and love for years! - are now suddenly your "private parts."

    Don't fear that he'll never leave you alone and pull away. He will. He will eventually pull completely away and leave you completely without him, except by calls and emails, 99% of the time. You are enjoying the best years right this moment. Feel joy and gratitude and go easy on your extremely young child.

    I breastfed my kids two years each and they did not touch my breasts constantly, so I do not think it has anything to do with you breastfeeding 2 1/2 years. Breastfeeding is protective against breast cancer! I would just keep gently reminding your son that your breasts are not for him to touch now. I am sure it will pass!

    Just a thought...  I used to work in a daycare and one of the four-year-olds started behaving towards baby dolls in ways that were inappropriate and surprising. Nothing we said or did helped. It turned out that while at his uncle's house, he'd come across a stash of "girly" magazines that the uncle thought was well hidden. Once they knew what was going on, the parents were able to get the stash moved and talk to the boy about what he'd seen. It was pretty heady stuff for a kid that small--strange and compelling and scary at the same time. He expressed his feelings in a active, physical way rather than talking about it. I am not saying at all that something like this is happening, but it would explain a lot. Computers, magazines, television, movies...a lot of strong images are as close as our phones, iPads, and laptops. Even the best parents can't know everything their kid could have seen. And it would make sense that he would exhibit behavior towards you as his "safe person" and "main female."

    I breastfed my son till 3.5 years old, and even though now at almost 5 he remembers nursing and asks if there is still milk in the boobies, he is not otherwise obsessed with them.  My daughter is 8 and nursed till (2.5 years old) and she actually seems to get comfort from putting her head on my breasts when she is cuddling with me.  It might be just a comfort thing for your son, I don't think it has anything to do breastfeeding long. 

    Just wanted to chime in that my daughter is the same. She'll be 5 years old in April and loves my breasts. She does everything you listed. She's even said that she loves me more than dad because I have breasts. Actually, she also grabs his chest and nipples, too! What we've done is talked about consent. There is a good comic book called "Consent for Kids" by Rachel Brian. It's for older children but we change some of the words to make it fitting for her age. When my daughter tries to do all things (grabbing, etc) I gently yet firmly let her know that she needs to have consent to touch that part of my body. Then I gently, but firmly, remove her hands or face. Then I say I would want everyone to have consent from her when they touch her body. And then I have to do it over and over and over again. She definitely understands the concept of consent now, and she knows to ask me before touching my breasts. If she tries to touch my breasts before asking for consent, I stop her and say that she forgot to ask for consent. Then she asks. The answer is always no, but she's allowed to ask, right? Ha. It's not my favorite stage in the world and the repetition is killing me, but I can see change happening and I think we're setting her up for larger concepts later on.

    I think this is normal and will pass. My second child is 5 now and still does this. She calls them squishies and will snuggle into them or sometimes grab or try to touch them. I gently remind her not to when she is trying to grab or squeeze. My older child did not do this, but similarly, after he stopped breastfeeding he became obsessed with my armpits and every chance he got would stick his hands in them. Kind of funny. Just don't make it too big a deal. You can do the gentle reminders and have him stop but I wouldn't worry about it. And don't listen to your husband. Your son is just seeking comfort and this isn't abnormal or something you caused.

    If you're right that your breasts feel like a "security blanket" for your son, I wonder if he would be more responsive to being presented with an alternative, like "you can give me a hug" or some other special gesture between you that you are comfortable with, like a head-rub or a hand-squeeze. That way he can learn a new ritual for getting closeness from you.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


7-year-old girl obsessed with boobs

Nov 2009

My daughter (7) has always been a firecracker. She is spunky and irreverent and quick to sass. But I don't want to drive that out of her because I think it will do her good in life, as long as she channels it!

So here's my latest with her: she is obsessed with ''boobs.'' She stuffs her shirt with toilet paper, talks about bras, and on and on. At home I've been pretty lenient with this behavior because I want her to be comfortable with her body and to be comfortable talking to me as it starts to change. BUT, last Sunday she piped up with a comment in her Sunday school class that included the word ''boobs.'' Her teacher is pretty strict and he was really embarrassed. My husband and I talked about it and then talked with her. Essentially we just told her that we don't talk about the private parts of our bodies with any other adults except mom and dad and the pediatrician.

But, having done that, I feel we've indirectly given her the message and the feeling that these things are somehow embarrassing and improper. I really want to keep those lines of communication open with her now and esp. in the future as she approaches puberty. Thoughts? S.

To the original poster: I think we need more information. You said she had a comment in Sunday school in which she mentioned boobs. What was the comment?

Was it at all relevant to the discussion? Was she merely acknowledging the fact that boobs exist, and/or that some people call them boobs? If so, I would leave her alone, and ditch the Sunday School teacher who can't handle discussion about a perfectly ordinary body part that half the population possesses (since females generally have two, that means on average every human has one, so why are they a big secret?).

Or was she doing something inappropriate? Telling tasteless jokes about boobs? Making fun of somebody else's boobs? Inviting somebody to touch her boobs? Interrupting entirely unrelated discussions to constantly steer the conversation toward boobs? Things like that are a different matter and definitely require some intervention. Though I'd advise addressing it as an issue of appropriate conversation dynamics, rather than making it out to be a problem about body parts.

Boobs exist, deal with it

My daughter is also 7 and sounds very much like yours in terms of personality. My guess is that your daughter and her friends are talking about this stuff at school. Maybe one of her friends has an older sister? Maybe she just wants to emulate you? Any way, I don't think it's a big deal. It doesn't hurt to talk to your daughter about what kind of topics you feel should be discussed in private, but if you're afraid she might get the wrong message, you can tell her that this topic embarrasses some people so she should watch who she talks to about it.

My daughter has started talking about bras also (but not casually in public) and I don't say much beyond giving simple answers to any questions she asks. It just makes me wonder how fast girls are trying to grow up these days. I'm more worried about her body image as it pertains to weight--she and her friends have been discussing that since preschool! Francesca

Actually by saying ''your privates'' are in FACT private and not be discussed with people except...'' is perfectly fine at 7. Most 7 yo's don't have filter so you need to provide it. My seven year old son just came home with some choice descriptive words...and he said them on the bus and was overheard by the driver. He was in trouble because he was severely out of line discussing these things in a public forum. mom of trash talker

Random thought as I read your post: It reminded me of the ''Little House on the Prairie'' episode where Laura put two apples in her dress, I think it was to impress a boy. It had a message, probably on the pitfalls of trying to change yourself for someone else, or just be yourself or something along those lines. I was probably your daughter's age back when that was my favorite show. If you could find that episode somewhere (online? netflix?) it might serve as a conversation-starter. L

This is a really good question! I have similar issues, with three daughters, they talk regularly about their ''ginas'', and it feels crude at times, but others i realize it's my own cultural upbringings. One thing i try, so that they can differentiate between them being crude and other people being ridiculous, is to put it on other people. Such as '' Some people are not as comfortable with their bodies as you are. We need to respect where they're at, that's why we have our own home, so we can do and say as we please''. etc. Not much help, i know, but at least she will know she needs to have no shame. I'll be interested to read other responses!
fellow mom of body obsessed girls

I'm sorry, but I had to laugh at this one. My 6.5 yr old daughter is also obsessed with boobs. She tries to catch me getting dressed. She often tries to touch them ''accidentally''. She giggles when they're near her body (like when sitting next to each other on the couch). She and her friends use their hands to create boobs on their own bodies while dancing the hula at school. She even points and laughs at my bras when they're hanging up to dry. Other Moms have told me similar stories, so I think it's pretty normal for this age.

What I have done is told her that boobs are someone's personal body part, not to be touched. I've told her that it's not okay to talk about them with other people because this kind of talk can embarrass them. So far, it's worked. her obsession has mostly stayed in the house.

One friend, who has a 10-yr old girl, said that her daughter's obsession didn't stop until recently. Good luck.

Seven years old seems a very early age for a child to be so intently focused on boobs. If I were in your situation my concern would be where did this focus come from? Does she have friends who also focus on boobs? It's true that our culture puts out a lot of sexual messages and women in the media are portrayed in provocative ways. Even so, her focus seems questionable. I would make sure her viewing of TV and movies is kid- appropriate. I would discuss this privately with your child's pediatrician. Bottom line my concern is whether your child is getting sexual messages/abuse from anyone in her life.

I adopted my daughter at age 6 and assumed her frequently expressed desire to have breasts had cultural origins. It often came up when she was getting dressed, but it was so strongly felt that I was concerned that she'd talk about it in inappropriate contexts. Nothing I said, rightly or wrongly, had any effect on her, and this went on for a long time. I forget the context but one day her emphatic enthusiasm for wanting to have breasts exasperated me and elicited a spontaneous sincere lecture that went something like this. Having breasts on your chest feels very different than not having them. They bounce around when you run. It really hurts if they bump into something. Every woman looks forward to taking off her bra at the end of the day. You'll get breasts and once you do you'll have them forever. So enjoy the body you've got now.

She's a bit of a know-it-all and usually shoots back an all knowing response, but she didn't. I sensed that I'd given her a few things to think about. As time passed it seemed that she'd stopped talking about wanting breasts. Months later, while in the car, she asked her brother if he'd seen that thing on a tree that looked like a bra. He asked what is a bra, and she described it; of course he immediately knew what she was talking about. Then she added ''women have to wear them because when they run their breasts go up and down and up and down and up and down.'' A mom

7-year-old likes cuddling mom's "boobies"

July 2008

Does your child cuddle your 'boobies?' My daughter is now 7 and still enjoys it on occasion. This means resting her head on my chest, bare or not. It does not feel sexual to me. My ex-husband accuses me of 'emotional incest' apparently for this and because we are very close. (He says she defends me (I guess if she feels he's slighting me.)) I believe we have a very strong and special bond because I am attentive and loving. I also believe that that desire to snuggle into 'mom' is very natural and just wanted to check on my assumptions. Thanks.
''Glad to be out of my marriage''

I don't think it's a big deal- it just means you have a close bond with your child. My son is five, and has still not forgotten about them, believe me. I don't know how you can convince your ex that while this is perhaps not common it is normal. I just want to let you know that I do not think you are a weirdo mom. At all.

Anonymous but not embarassed!

Sounds like your ex is a freak that is sexualizing your relationship with your daughter. Doesn't sound like she's cuddling your ''boobies'' persay, she's just snuggling up to you, close to your heart. If you are comfortable and your daughter is comfortable with this level of intimacy then go with it. Wouldn't it be stranger, especially for her, to just stop it at the request of someone that is being irrational, and perhaps a bit jealous?! My philosophy is that someday our children will not be so willing when it comes to this closeness so take it while you can.... don't worry about him, he's unjustified in his accusations. If others are agreeing with him and are encouraging on his position, then he is most likely posing the situation to benefit his belief. anon

Your daughter is being completely normal and this is nothing at all to worry about. My neices (7 and 10) cuddle their mom exactly like that, as do many happy, loved children - in fact I have other neices in their late teens who still sometimes cuddle their moms like that! For the record, my brother - the dad of the 2 younger girls, loves that his children do this.

Your ex sounds jealous and immature. I hope he never makes those comments in front of your daughter. If he does, I would speak to him privately and strongly, and also talk to your daughter about it and tell her everything she does, everything she needs from you (especially as a child of divorce) is 100% ok.

If your daughter is ''defending'' you to her father - that means he is attacking you in front of her. This is unacceptable. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you and your husband get post divorce counseling or mediation of some kind. At the least, you and your daughter should be in counseling. Putting a child in this position is unfair and damaging. It will DESTROY his relationship with her when she is just a little older - no one will win. Your daughter is doing nothing wrong in defending you, and you are not guilty of anything wrong either - assuming you are not attacking him. But both of you must keep your child out of your squabbles and think about what is best for your little one who is still a very young child. sarah

My almost five year old daughter still cuddles my boobies and I think it is sweet. She burrows her face in and occasionally cops a feel with her hands. There is nothing sexual about it. When my husband sees this he simply smiles and says ''Sweet memories...'' I think it is nice that your seven year old still wants to snuggle you and that it is a very natural and healthy thing to want to do. I wish I could still snuggle my mom but I think at age 46 thats a bit much... anon

Your post isn't just about whether your daughter cuddling with your breasts at age 7 is normal, but also about family dynamics post-divorce. I will share my 2 cents on both topics.

Cuddling with boobies can be ''normal'' in one family or culture but not in others. You and your ex may have different views on parent/child boundaries. A 7-year-old snuggling with boobies could make some people uncomfortable (this could especially be an issue for your ex if he was molested as a child). You say the snuggling doesn't feel sexual to you; if it doesn't feel sexual to your daughter either, then it's not sexual (but Child Protective Services may believe otherwise); the question is the other parent's discomfort if HE feels it's inappropriate. If he is uncomfortable, the parents need to work together to reach an agreement, and MUST leave the child entirely out of the conflict. It is often men who are viewed with suspicion around body boundaries, and there is a double standard that favors women in this.

The other issue is one of family dynamics, specifically how you and your ex position your daughter, consciously or unconsciously, as a pawn in your battle against each other: ''My ex-husband accuses me of 'emotional incest' apparently for this and because we are very close. (He says she defends me (I guess if she feels he's slighting me)''--It is unclear from your post what is actually happening, but it should be clear that 1. Your husband should not be slighting you (especially in front of your child); 2. you should not tell her that he is slighting you; 3. neither of you should say anything disparaging to or about the other in front of the child or anywhere in the child's hearing. Your child should never, ever feel pressed to take either parent's side. This can happen when one parent is aggressive towards the other or when one parent is critical of the other.

I recommend you enroll in ''kids' Turn''--a great workshop for divorced parents which has a sliding fee scale, so it's affordable to everyone; also, you might want to read Philip Stahl's book ''Parenting After Divorce.'' children aren't weapons

Recently weaned toddler still cuddling breasts

Aug 2008

My son is 2 1/2 and we finally ended his last morning nursing about 2 mos ago. He has not completely stopped fighting the idea of no more nursing. In the mornings he cuddles in bed with us, milk and books - but often still begs for ''2 minutes'' (and I sometimes give in, which I'm sure is compounding the problem - I do not think I have milk anymore tho). In the morning and also throughout the day he often reaches down my shirt and fondles my breasts. He was always a fondler, and it really didnt surprise me that he would do this at anxious or tired times even after weaned.

The biggest problem is that the fondling and the occasional brief nursing REALLY bothers my husband. He gets angry and orders our son to stop. My son resents this and often gets mad back. It doesnt bother me much, so I usually don't let him fondle for more than a moment, but I don't get upset about it. To me, it seems ok that such a young child does this, and I assume it'll end in time. But perhaps I'm wrong - my husband thinks I'm wierd for allowing it, and it's bad for our child. Is it? I don't want to be creating a problem.

But if it's not a problem, then I really don't want to chastise my little one for such a small and comforting thing. Any suggestions on how I can talk to my husband? If there are any child psychologists on this listserv I would really be interested in their take. My husband vehemently believes that this behavior is wrong. Thank you! sw

When you think about it, your son has been close to your breasts for 2 1/2 years, they have given him comfort and a sense of security. You can't expect him to just give it up like that. It's like taking his favorite stuff animal away and telling him he can't cuddle with it any more. I nursed my daughter for over 2 1/2 years and only weaned her at my doctor's advice due to my current pregnancy. And she still on occasion wants to see them and kiss them and touch them. I believe it's perfectly normal. Your husband may be sexualizing your son's action when all it is is your son wanting to feel close and secure. don't mind my daughter cuddling with my breasts

These is absolutely nothing strange or wierd about your son wanting to cuddle your breasts.

My son is now 4.5 and was weened on the date of his third birthday. Two months later he was still cuddling my breasts and when I asked why he liked to do that his resonpose was.. ''because I feel the love''. Today he still cuddles them. There is nothing sexual about it. Your boobs brought your child food, comfort, security, warmth, and gave his hands something to play with when his mouth was occupied. My son is now grabbing me less and less and sometimes at night he forgets only to wake up in the morning to tell me that he didn't touch them. He also, when really tired, sticks his hands down his Dad's shirt to find confort. (My husband just loves that!)

The only rules I have set up about breast cuddling is that he can't do it in public and not while I'm eating. Which he understands.

The other thing I want to mention is that your husband is trying to control your body and your relationship with your son. That's not fair to your or to your son. Your husband is transfering a negative vibe about your body to your son. That touching you is bad.. can you imagine just how confusing that must be to your child? Tell him to just loosen up.. that your boobs aren't a sexual object to your son and to stop being so jealous.

still cuddled

I can identify with your note. My son just turned two. He does the same thing, he occasionally (a couple times a day) reaches down my shirt just to see what's there. I get a laugh out of it, my husband thinks its funny and so do I. We know he will outgrow it. He also occasionally reaches down our nanny's shirt to see what's going on down there and she always laughs and says that's normal (she has 4 grown children and all did the same). If you can get your husband to realize this is a normal behavior, maybe he'd relax about it a little. Best of luck! (and good for you for nursing your kids!) anon

Actually, it is your husband that has a warped idea of this whole breast thing. Why is he resentful? Well, he's probably feeling a competition! If you read BPN regularly, you see the issue of the boobie fondling come up very frequently. Years ago, my little boy did the same thing. You know, breastfeeding so calming and soothing for babies, and like anything else that gives us comfort, it is hard to give it up. I agree that you should make the boundary between your boundary and your son's groping you, but your husband's reaction is really outrageous.

For your part, I'd start being very clear that those are *Mommy's boobies* and you don't want them to be touched without your permission. Giving him a couple minutes in the morning, and the morning only (or whatever little private time you have with him) isn't crazy, and you can slowly eliminate that over time.

Dealing with your husband, well, that's a different topic. I'd be very mindful that if he's feeling competition and resentment now, over something so trivial, you may be up for many years of his competing with his son, and that's just not good. Take heed now, because this is probably the tip of that iceberg. Anon

My recently weaned toddler is doing the same thing, albeit perhaps not as much. She thinks it's very amusing to lift up a breast and play with it a bit, and sometimes she reaches down my shirt a bit. I think that this is a brilliant transition strategy on their part and shouldn't be discouraged. After all, your boobs have been the center of your kid's world for quite some time. It seems to me that cuddling is a way for them to deal with wanting that contact without creating a conflict by insisting on nursing.

I think that your husband's reaction is overblown and inappropriate, but that's easy for me to say. Is there something deeper going on for him? If you can find a way to allow the cuddling but respectfully address your husband's feelings, that's probably the route to go if possible. good luck

your husband is just jealous. My almost 6-yr old would still fondle my breasts if I let her, and she'll cop a feel if I'm not watching. You should decide what's comfortable for you, and maybe let your husband fondle a bit when the toddler isn't watching. (he'll want part of the action if he sees dad doing it)

Toddler wants to touch my breasts all the time

Aug 2003

Does anyone have any advice about a toddler who has suddenly developed a fascination/obsession with mommy's boobs? About 2 weeks ago, my daughter suddenly wants to touch them all the time -- sometimes when we are in public places. She mostly just wants to stroke them, but sometimes she wants to pinch the nipples. It's embarrassing and uncomfortable. I've tried just ignoring it, or putting her down or out of reach of them when she starts. I get the feeling that it's comforting to her. She's also recently started a game of pretending to be a ''tiny little baby'' and wanting to be cradled and coo'd to. I'm not sure if the two are related. How should I be handling it? anon

All of my nephews and nieces at one time were fascinated with breasts (none were ever breastfed for a long period of time, either). We thought nothing of it and eventually the fascination went away. We also placed their hands away and maybe that taught them not to do it. I really would not worry about this. anon

I have a 2.5 year old who is also currently fascinated with, even enchanted by, my breasts. He pats them fondly, with a big smile on his face, he asks me what they're doing and if they're all ''snuggled up'' in my shirt and he sometimes asks to see them. Given that they were a source of nutrition and comfort for him for more than two years, I'm not trying to make him stop this behavior at all. I *am* teaching him that he can't touch them or see them when we're in public, just like he can't play with his penis in public (or even in the living room!). At home, he can pat them as much as he wants and he can ask about them as often as he wants. I figure it's a good way for him to learn that it's ok to talk to his parents about body parts, but there is appropriate and inappropriate behavior outside the house. anon

How to stop 3yo from reaching for my breasts

April 2003

I stopped breastfeeding my (now) 3 year old daughter about one year ago. When she is tired or upset, she immediately reaches for my breasts (specifically nipples) for comfort.

I abruptly stop this by saying things like, ''you are a big girl now and I don't want you to touch my boobies'' or ''this is mommies body now and I don't want you to touch me there.'' I've provided small stuffed animals in replacement and soft fabric but nothing stops her craving for touching my nipples.

Sometimes this awakens me in the middle of the night (which makes me feel violated) and I'm getting incredibly frustrated for a solution.

Anyone have any practical ideas? thanks in advance!

My 4 year old was fondling my breasts

March 2002

I'm looking for some advice about what's normal exploratory behavior for an almost 4 year old girl (before my head explodes from analyzing the situation endlessly).

Here's the story: we were lying on the couch yesterday reading books together getting ready for nap. My daughter lifts up my shirt and starts exploring around with her hand and then started rubbing my breast in a very intentional sort of way. So I sat up and said ''what are you doing?''-- it rather alarmed me because it seemed so intentional. She said, rubbing your nippled the house) when seeing me getting dressed or showering and she's made comments that dads don't have breasts but moms do and wondering whether she will get them and when etc. Normal stuff. So what happened yesterday seemed different from usual so that's why I'm asking.

I don't know how to deal with it at this point. It's turned into a big deal in my head but I don't want to pass that on to my daughter. Should I let it pass-consider it unusual but normal behavior? I'd like to talk to her and find out if anything inappropriate happened at the babysitter that morning (how do I ask those questions without making her feel like she did something bad?) Or am I just building this all up in my head? On the one hand I think my suspicious thoughts are ridiculous and I'm blowing things out of proportion, but on the other hand, the behavior seemed unusual.

anonymous please

Both my daughters are curious of my breasts. They are 4 and 7 years old. Occasionally, they try to touch it and I usually say ''no, no, you know this is private'' and since it usually happens during moments of relaxation and tenderness, I grab and hug them. Sometimes I ask them if they want to play ''baby''. I find that pretty normal and unconcerning. mother of 2 girls

I can't really give you any advice on this matter, but I wanted you to know that my much younger sister went through a phase like that for a couple of years when she was a little girl. She was totally fascinated by my (and my mother's) breasts, would try to see them naked and touch them whenever she could. It was annoying, but I think completely normal. She eventually grew out of it. anonymous -

I was in the restroom at the Y with my daughter after we'd been swimming. I'd just taken off my bathing suit. She was close to 4. She took one of my breasts in her hands and said, ''She's a nice girl.'' I shrugged my breast away, and she took the other one in her hands and said, ''She's a nice girl, too.'' I think small children are so in love with us that they are in love with every aspect of mom, and the breasts are especially important if they have memories of nursing. Even now, at 5, my daughter's very interested in my breasts, though I'm setting more limits (ie saying that I shared my breasts with you when you were little and nursing but now they are private parts of my body) -- at times she'll ask to nurse again, too, which I think is both exploratory and a desire to return to the security of babyhood. anonymous

I can not tell you definately not to worry. I can tell you it seems very normal. My son went through a phase of it with me (I'm male). I've seen others children do it with their mothers-in fact thinking of the kids I see most often I've seen them all do it, as well as lift their mothers skirts or shirts in the same deliberate way. Inappropriate-yes. But it goes away. K

I think this is perfectly normal behavior and that if you don't make a big deal out of it, it will probably happen only a couple more times or never. I also think that if you do make a big deal out of it, it will become imprinted as a taboo area. Your child is old enough to start learning about improper touching of her body by others and to communicate that to you if it occurs, and if you have a close and calm enough relationship that she can confide in you. Her current exploratory behavior does not by any means signify improper touching by others. Anonymous

This is my first response to anything posted here. I am just very concerned and saddened that there is a link, in any parent's mind, between a normal and very healthy love for and curiosity about breasts and the idea that it is somehow inappropriate for 3-4 year olds to be interested in them. Remember, they are still babies. Parents really should temper that fear of ''inappropriateness.'' We have almost become a nation of parents for whom any type of body-awareness or contact is not appropriate. I teach my girls to love their bodies but to be cautious about allowing others access to their bodies. I am teaching them, based on their ability to understand, about inappropriate touch. Most important, I don't let my girls run too free - I, too, am afraid of danger. But please be careful. Not all touching is sexual or leads to sexual inappropriateness with children. And don't forget, there is such a thing as a natural body curiosity (it will lead to a natural progressive curiosity about sex/sexuality) -- and most children are drawn to this exploration (I know I was). There really is a fine balance that parents should fight to maintain.

22-month-old is very interested in breasts - mine and my friends'

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

Toddler has given up breastfeeding but not my breasts!

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.