What To Do With Your Toddler When You're Breastfeeding

How To Keep Your Older Child Happy and Involved

What can you do with your older child when you want to breastfeed your newborn?
How can you breastfeed a newborn when you have a toddler?. i love images/Cultura/Getty Images

Is It Possible To Nurse A Newborn When You Have A Toddler?

It may seem like you'll never be able to nurse your new baby with your toddler around, but rest assured, you can do it! As unrealistic as it may sound now, talking to your older child about breastfeeding before the baby arrives and preparing for some quiet time activities for your toddler, is a great way to start. 

Talk To Your Older Child About Breastfeeding

When a new baby joins a family, older children may become curious about breastfeeding, jealous of the new baby, and more demanding of your attention.

You can help to prepare your toddler for the arrival of his new brother or sister by letting him know what to expect. You can begin to explain that you will be breastfeeding and what that means. Use simple words that your child can understand and answer all his question. If your toddler is prepared, it will make it easier once your baby arrives. 

Plan Out Some Quiet Time Activites

Before your baby is born, purchase a new stash of coloring books, fresh crayons, stickers, and puzzles. Anything that seems fresh and new will be much more exciting to your toddler, and it will likely hold her attention better than something she's seen and played with a thousand times before.

If you're not opposed to television, you may find that a show like Sesame Street is the one thing that you can count on to distract your older child while you nurse your baby. If you have a newborn and a toddler, and you really need some time to relax, it is fine to turn on a little Disney Junior or PBS Kids.

An iPad or another type of tablet in a child-proof case can be a helpful tool, as well.There are some wonderful, educational children's apps available that are sure to keep your child occupied for a few minutes while you feed your baby.

You might also want to set up a nursing station where your child plays with his toys or where he watches TV.

This way you can keep an eye on your older child and interact with him while you're nursing the baby.

Pay Attention To Your Toddler's Needs

The most important thing to remember is that your older child still has needs. Depending on your older child's age, you may find that he is regressing in behavior or habits. If he was potty trained, he might start having tons of accidents. He may act out or throw more tantrums than usual. He might even want to taste your breast milk or begin breastfeeding again. 

Believe it or not, the desire for an older child to try your breast milk or try nursing is a common response to seeing you breastfeed the new baby. You can handle this in a few different ways, whichever is most comfortable for you.

    Sometimes an older child simply wants attention during the breastfeeding session, and that's fine. Once you get the hang of positioning and latching your new little one comfortably, you can have your older child snuggle with you as you read a book or do some other quiet time activity with her. It's important to include your older child, so try not to make her feel as though she shouldn't be around when you're breastfeeding the baby. If she feels like she's part of the process, it will be easier on the whole family.

    Let Your Toddler Be A Helper

    Finally, an excellent way to include your child is as a big boy helper. He can get a clean diaper, bring you your nursing pillow, and if you are bottle feeding expressed milk to the baby, perhaps he can help with the feeding.

    You can prop the baby comfortably on your older one's lap (while you're still subtly holding on) and allow him to hold the bottle with you. "Big Brother Mode" will kick in quickly and, aside from loving the fact that he's feeding "his" baby, his maturity will rise and make your home and family life sweet.

    Edited by Donna Murray

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