My first child is a very good brother. He likes to help by grabbing a clean diaper for me when I need them. He also likes to help me pick out his new sister’s clothes. As a new sibling, however, there is one thing that my sweet little one just can’t help me with. He can’t help me breastfeed his younger sister. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t tried. Here are a few things I have my toddler do while I am breastfeeding that don’t break that helpful spirit, but keep him out of my hair.
Stuffed Animal Feeding Time
There are several ways this idea can work. The first is to tell your toddler that it’s time for everyone to eat. Explain the mechanics of how mommies feed their babies. It doesn’t need to be a whole biology lesson, but enough information to know what you are doing. Have mommy and baby stuffed animals and as you feed you baby let your toddler help the mommy stuffed animal feed the baby stuffed animal. The other way I have seen toddlers use this skill is to “breastfeed” the stuffed animal themselves. This is okay even with little boys. Eventually they will grow up to be fathers and should have some opinion on how their child gets nutrients.
Most toddlers love the idea of burping. I like to think that it’s mostly because of the really load sound that comes out of their new sibling’s mouth. My problem was that my toddler wanted to help pat the burp out of our newborn, and was none to gentle about it. As a compromise my toddler now burps me as I burp the baby. I drink something carbonated (sparkling water or an Italian soda) before I feed my infant. Then as I burp the baby, my toddler burps me. I admit, sometimes I have to fake the burps. Either way we end up laughing together rather than frustrated with each other.
Most toddlers are more than happy to give mommy and the newborn a little time as long as they know that they have time coming with mommy as well. After getting our new addition changed, fed, and burped, she usually falls asleep. I then spend about half an hour with our toddler cuddling and talking about his day. This keeps him feeling special and helps me stay connected to his needs throughout the day. It helps reaffirm that mommy still loves him as much as she did before the new baby came.
How do you occupy your toddler while breastfeeding your newborn?