Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding a Toddler and a Newborn

10 Tips for Tandem Nursing

Breastfeeding siblings who aren't twins is called tandem nursing.
Tandem nursing is breastfeeding a newborn along with an older child. Raquel Lonas/Moment/Getty Images

What Is Tandem Nursing?

If you become pregnant while you're breastfeeding another child, you can breastfeed throughout a new pregnancy if your doctor tells you that it's safe. Then, after you have your new baby, you may decide to continue to nurse your toddler along with your newborn. When you breastfeed siblings that aren't twins it is called tandem nursing.

You may decide to nurse your toddler along with your newborn if:

Breastfeeding a toddler and a newborn is a special situation, and it's not always easy. Keep reading for 10 tips to help you through tandem nursing. 

Prepare Your Older Child

Talk to an older child about tandem nursing before the baby arrives.
Prepare your toddler for tandem nursing while you're pregnant. Mike Harrington/Taxi/Getty Images

Talk to Your Toddler About What's to Come

Have a talk with your older child before your new little one arrives. Let her know that her new brother or sister will need to nurse, too. Explain that a baby cannot eat and drink other types of snacks and foods the way that she can, so the baby will need to nurse a lot more. It may be a little easier for your toddler to share breastfeeding if he's prepared.   

Breastfeed Your Younger Child Then Your Older Child

Breastfeed your newborn before your toddler.
Breastfeed your newborn first and often. Anderson Ross/Getty Images

Nurse Your Newborn First and Often

A newborn breastfeeds at least every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day and night. It's important that your newborn gets all the nutrients and healthy immune boosting properties that she needs from your breast milk, so always nurse your newborn first. After your younger child is satisfied with her feeding, you can then go on to nurse your older child.   

Know That Your Breast Milk Will Change

The flavor and amount of breast milk changes during pregnancy.
Your breast milk will change during your pregnancy and with the birth of your new baby. altrendo images/Altrendo/Getty Images

Breast Milk Changes During Pregnancy and After Childbirth

As your pregnancy progresses, your breast milk will change.  When your new child is born, you will be making colostrum. Colostrum contains all the nutrition that a newborn needs, but you only make a small amount of it. 

When your breast milk returns to colostrum, your older child may not like that he's not getting as much milk or the change in the flavor so he may not want to nurse. However, as your milk comes in and transitions over to mature milk, your older child may show more interest in nursing again. This return of enthusiasm could be due to the increase in your milk supply, or the need to feel closer to you.  

More Nursing Means More Breast Milk

More breast stimulation from tandem nursing produces more more breast milk.
Breastfeeding a newborn and a toddler could increase your supply of breast milk. David Oliver/Getty Images

Breastfeeding Two Children Will Increase Your Milk Supply

If your toddler does continue to nurse through the colostrum phase, the extra stimulation that your older child provides at your breast will help to increase your supply of breast milk. After a few days, when your breasts begin to fill up with milk, your supply will adjust to feed both of your children in the same way that it would for someone who is breastfeeding twins. You may even end up with an overabundant milk supply.  

Talk To Your Children's Doctor

The pediatrician should be notified of tandem nursing.
Your child's doctor will monitor your baby's weight and growth. Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Let the Pediatrician Know That You're Nursing Both Children

Be sure to tell your children's doctor that you're nursing your older child along with your newborn. The pediatrician will carefully monitor your newborn's growth during the first few weeks to be sure that he's getting enough breast milk and growing at a healthy, consistent pace. Be sure to follow the doctor's instructions and take your baby to all of his scheduled well visits and weight checks.  

Others May Not Understand or Support Your Decision

Mother's who choose to tandem nurse may encounter disapproval and criticism.
Breastfeeding is still beneficial to older children. Thinkstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

You May Encounter Criticism and Negative Comments

You may feel pressure from your spouse, family members, or friends to wean your older child. However, if your newborn is growing and gaining weight well, and there is no danger in continuing to nurse both children, you can continue tandem nursing for as long as you feel comfortable. The benefits of breastfeeding your older child do not end once he turns six months or even a year old. Breastfeeding will continue to provide many health and developmental benefits for your child, well after the first year.  

Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself

Eat a well-balanced diet, get extra calories, and drink plenty of fluids when you're tandem nursing.
Stay healthy and hydrated. Anthony-Masterson/Getty Images

Pay Attention to Your Daily Needs

While you're nursing two children, your body will need more energy to make more breast milk. Be sure to eat a well-balanced diet, get some extra healthy calories each day, and drink enough fluids to stay hydrated.   

Try to Get Enough Rest

Breastfeeding a toddler and a newborn requires extra energy.
Tandem nursing can be exhausting. Be sure to get plenty of rest. Chris Fertnig/Getty Images

Don't Overdo It

It can be exhausting to meet the nursing needs of a newborn and a toddler.  Postpartum fatigue can interfere with breastfeeding and your breast milk supply. Don't overdo it and try to get as much rest as possible. Let the housework go, put your feet up, take a nap, and don't be afraid ask for help if you need it.  

It's OK to Change Your Mind

Don't feel guilty if you decide to wean your toddler.
Your toddler can get enough nutrition from the foods that she eats. Dave King/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Don't Feel Guilt if You Change Your Mind

If tandem nursing becomes too overwhelming, you don't have to feel guilty about weaning your older child. Your older child can get all of her nutrition from a healthy diet of solid foods, and you can continue to meet her emotional needs in other ways.   

Seek Help and Support if You Need It

For questions or assistance with tandem nursing talk to your doctor or join a local breastfeeding support group.
A local breastfeeding group is a great place to find acceptance and support. Steve Debenport/Getty Images

Assistance, Acceptance, and Support Are Available

If you are concerned about tandem nursing, or if you have any questions about nursing a newborn and an older child at the same time, talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant.Local breastfeeding groups, such as La Leche League International, are also a great place to find acceptance, support, and advice.

Breastfeeding your older child along with your newborn can be tiring, but it can also be a rewarding experience.As long as your younger child is getting all the nutrition that she needs, you can choose to continue nursing both children together for as long as you feel comfortable doing so.  



American Academy of Pediatrics. New Mother’s Guide To Breastfeeding. Bantam Books. New York. 2011.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

Riordan, J., and Wambach, K. Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Fourth Edition. Jones and Bartlett Learning. 2014.

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