Parenting Woes: How to Breastfeed a New Baby with a Toddler around
Having one child is stressful enough; having two – it’s a whole different ball game. Things are much easier when you have just the one child; breastfeeding especially. It can be a little challenging when you have a mischievous toddler to care for as well. Nobody can give you the perfect solution for this – after all, little kids are unpredictable; they have a mind of their own. But we’ll give you some amazing tips that can help you ease things a little. Read on.
1. Prepare your Toddler
Probably one of the best things you can do is that even before the baby is born, you prepare your toddler for the arrival; talk to her what they look like, and what they will do after their birth. Emphasize that they need to have mommy’s milk – a lot. You can also show her photos of how your toddler looked like as a baby. You can even show her videos or books about moms nursing babies.
2. Reassure your Toddler
Your older child is likely to be jealous of all the attention and fussing over the new baby; it’s only natural. She may feel insecure as you have to care for the baby. You’ll need to make the time to cuddle her, talk to her, and shower love on her. Read her stories, and tell her how much you love her; tell her that the baby is very little and cannot do anything on his own, and you need her help to care for him. This may help in reassuring her that she is still very important to you.
3. Involve your Toddler in the Process
Let your toddler be in the same room when you’re breastfeeding the baby; she can have a quiet play – with toys, or coloring or drawing, clay, or whatever it is that she likes to do. You can even hug her with your free hand, listen to music together, or play a game like Simon says, etc. In fact, you can have a special toy or book that you bring out only at breastfeeding time. Explain to her that she too was breastfed as a baby, and that it’s important for babies to have mommy’s milk so that they become strong. Also tell her that baby needs peace and quiet to have his milk properly. Ask her for help, like getting a cloth or bib for the baby, singing the baby a song, and so on. Making her feel important is more than half the battle won. Keeping her out of the room and not talking to her about what’s happening is likely to make her feel left out. If your toddler is still breastfeeding too, you may want to try feeding both of them together – do talk to your pediatrician about it before you start.
4. Ask Family for Help
If your partner/spouse is unavailable, ask your mother, sister, aunt, or anyone else who your toddler is comfortable with to babysit her while you breastfeed your baby. This is a good idea if your toddler is the type who won’t sit still or play quietly when you are feeding the baby. This is a good opportunity to feed the baby in another room; some quality bonding time for the two of you.
5. Handle her Tantrum
In spite of all the positive steps you take, it is highly likely that she will still act out, try to get your attention, and throw a full-blown tantrum when you start breastfeeding the baby. It is only natural – because she may still feel threatened by the baby and all the attention he is getting. The best way to get her to stop is to ignore her, and not give in to her demands. She will (hopefully) stop when she realizes that her negative tactics are not going to work with you. Of course, if you see that she is trying to hurt either herself or others, you will need to intervene; till then, you can simply ignore her.
6. Praise her when She’s Good
Whenever she’s being good, helpful, playing quietly, loving the baby (cuddling or kissing), make sure to praise her profusely for being such a good girl and sister. Giving her a hug or kiss will in itself make her understand that it is being good that will get her the love, and not throwing tantrums. Oh yes, even little kids are smart enough to understand these things!
7. She May Want to Breastfeed
Call it curiosity, jealousy, competition or whatever, it is quite common for toddlers or preschoolers to ask their moms if they can have a go at mommy’s breast too. It’s a good thing to be prepared for this request; there is nothing unusual or odd about it. Our advice? Let her. As a toddler who has been already weaned off, she is not really going to be able to do it properly. Kids don’t remember how it’s done once they are off it. She is likely to try a couple of times, and go away – and she’s unlikely to ask again! But she will be satisfied that she was allowed to try.
They say; it takes a village to raise a child, so do not feel hesitant about seeking help. Talk to an expert pediatrician or a health care provider if you are finding it challenging to strike a bond between your toddler and the new born. With expert help and advice it becomes much easier to juggle between a newborn and a toddler and raise your family like a pro!