Congratulations, you're expecting another baby. I'm sure you're excited, and looking forward to watching this baby grow up with your other little one. Aaannnd I'm sure you're also nervous about how to survive these early days with two little ones in tow. Toddlers are pretty needy themselves, and there's nothing like a new baby to revert them back to a baby like stage themselves.
Little babies require a lot of breast time, so how the heck are you going to do it with two (or more!)? How do you keep your toddler busy so you can still enjoy nursing your new little one too? As much as you're excited, the nerves from these unanswered questions are there too.
Believe me, I know these complicated emotions you're feeling right now. I've been there... a few times. My husband and I have 4 littles, and I know these feelings well. I remember going from excitement, joy, and visions of my kids being best friends as they grow up together, to feelings of insecurity in my ability to handle two little kids at the same time.
But guess what? I did survive, and it wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be. It did take some savvy and a few tricks. In this post, I'm going to share those tricks with you.
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So let's dive through some of these tips. Many of these are my own tips and tricks from my personal breastfeeding experiences, and some are from the amazing mamas in our Successful Breastfeeding Community on Facebook. (Join us if you haven't yet!) Like I said, these are tried and true tips. So hopefully some of the advice we're sharing that worked for us will also work for you too. Make sure you leave a comment below if you have a tip that you don't see here, or let me know which of these you're most excited about trying out yourself!
Here's Our Best Breastfeeding Survival Tips for Baby #2 or #3 (or more!):
Tip #1: The Nursing Basket
This was my #1 secret weapon when my second was born. I put together a plastic basket of super special toys that my son could only pay with when his baby sibling was breastfeeding. I filled it with some empty plastic eggs, tiny toys, play dough, and a few other hands on, puzzle activities that were age appropriate for him at the time. My son was very tactile so I catered to that. Anytime I would take down this basket I would get at least a half hour of uninterrupted time to focus on just the baby. Sometimes he would even ask me to nurse the baby so he could play with it!
Tip #2: Tandem Nursing
I have had the honor of supporting countless women who have chosen to tandem nurse, and they absolutely loved it. For me tandem nursing had it's wins, and it absolutely had its down sides. (That is another post!) However, it did make the transition from having one to two just a little bit easier. My oldest was only 19 months old when I got pregnant with baby #2, and he was still nursing. He continued to nurse through my entire pregnancy, and kept going when the baby came. Tandem nursing helped them bond, and it was very sweet to watch them hold hands while they nursed, and share this experience together. I feel like it minimized any jealousy my toddler would have felt when the baby arrived as well, since he was still able to participate in the breastfeeding experience with the baby. After the first few months I weaned my toddler from breastfeeding, and when I had baby #3/4 I did not tandem nurse, and found that the other tactics in this post were still incredibly helpful.
Tip #3: Let Your Big Kid "Help"
If you've ever had a toddler "help" you with anything, you probably know it's not all that much help, ha! BUT when you're stuck nursing, and your toddler is around, give them little jobs to "help". Get creative and think of anything small that they can do, and make sure you give them lots of praise for helping out too. They'll feel good about themselves, and will love the attention you're giving them for their work. Some examples of "jobs" my 2.5 year old would do for his baby: bring me a blanket or pillow, sing the baby a song, pick out a special book to read to the baby, or help find the baby's "lovey"- they were all minor things, but he loved his role of big brother and was usually happy to help.
Tip #4: Make it a Bonding Experience
Speaking of "helping", if you do have your toddler pick out a special book to read to the baby, why not include them in on the fun! Reading a book to your toddler while you nurse the baby allows them to feel included. I remember on specific instance when my 2.5 year old snuggled up close to me and the new baby while I read them a book, and by the end he was holding the baby's foot and telling her how much he loved her. It felt like a big win at the time.
Tip #5: Master the Art of Nursing While Baby Wearing
Baby carriers saved my life. I'm pretty sure I was basically topless under my carrier for the first two months after my second was born. Learning to nurse while baby wearing gave me a sense of normalcy and freedom I didn't think would be possible. I could take care of my toddler, clean my house, cook dinner, grocery shop, and do.... well pretty much anything. It was glorious. My favorites were wraps, like the moby, in the newborn stage, and soft structured carriers like Ergo in the 6 weeks and older stage. Life. Changing.
Tip #6: Make Breastfeeding Time Game Time
One suggestion from a mom in our Successful Breastfeeding Community had this suggestion. To try to limit screen time she plays games! She and her toddler play "I spy" or "Hot and Cold". This will keep your toddler entertained, interacting with you, and you won't even have to get up!
Tip #7: All. The. Snacks.
Another popular suggestion in our community is the beloved snack time. As you probably remember, breastfeeding makes you very hungry, and thirsty for that matter. Wherever you sit and nurse your baby, keep a snack basket handy. Have some of your favorite treats in there, and maybe some of your toddler's favorites too! Don't forget your water bottle, and maybe some juice boxes just in case.
Tip #8: Screen Time
I know there's a lot of negative buzz around screen time, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, and using the TV babysitter every once in a while is not a bad thing. So, if you need to turn on some Daniel Tiger every now and again for some mental peace, and a well deserved break, give yourself some grace and enjoy that 30 minutes of toddler free time, and nurse your baby!
Now it's time to hear from you!
Tell me your best tips in the comments below, or let me know if you got some new ideas to help you survive the newborn phase with your toddler around!
I'm Kelly Maher Carvell, Successful Breastfeeding LLC's founder, and lactation expert. I've made it my personal mission to reach as many parents as possible (like you!) to prepare you for your Successful Breastfeeding Journey. Thank you for allowing me and my team to support you. Before you leave the blog grab one of my FREEBIES like my Prenatal Success Kit or the Pump More Milk for Your Stash Guide. You've got this and I'm here to help!
Kelly Maher, CLC, CLE
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