How to keep an Older Child Busy while You’re Breastfeeding

As a mother of two children born just 20 months apart, I can tell you that trying to breastfeed a newborn and entertain a toddler at the same time takes the skill of a circus ringmaster. It seems like everybody wants a piece of mommy all at the same time……The good news is that plenty of moms have forged through this forest before you, successfully and without going insane. Here are some tips:

-Take a weekly trip to the library and fill a tote with your older child’s favorite books. Before you sit down to nurse, help the sibling to choose three or four books for you to read aloud. For kids who love books, this will be their most favorite part of the day.

-Depending on the age of the older sibling, teach a little lesson in independence by giving them some “room time” or “playpen” time during one of the daily feedings. Help the child to look forward to having some time to themselves by saving special toys for those times.

-If the sibling is young enough to still needs lots of mommy’s attention, chances are that he may still need a nap as well. Use his naptime to sneak a feeding into the newborn.

-Work your newborn’s schedule so that his feeding time is also mealtime for the older sibling. Sit down at the table and visit with your child while you also feed that nursing newborn.

-Table time is another way to occupy your child while you nurse his sibling. Just buckle the older sibling into a high chair or booster seat pulled up to the table. Bring out crayons, coloring books, watercolor paints etc….Also fun for kids to do at the table is play with bowls and cups filled with dried noodles or beans. Hide little toys in a deep pan of rice or lentils and have your older child dig around for the hidden treasure.

-Nurse during big brother or sister’s bathtime. You will need to be sitting close to the tub anyway, so nurse the newborn while you supervise your other child in the tub.

-If the weather is nice, take a blanket outside and spread it across the lawn. Sit and nurse the baby while your other child digs in the dirt or searches for worms and bugs.

-Some moms are very proficient at nursing while walking. Such moms can tuck the baby into a carrier and let him or her nurse while she pushes the older sibling in a stroller for a daily outing of fresh air and sunshine.

Try out these ideas and brainstorm more of your own. Time and experience will ease your anxiety and bring about a sense of pride as you successfully tackle the challenges of motherhood every new day!