It’s incredible how nature has a way of slowly easing you into parenting. The initial nine months of pregnancy helps to mentally prepare you. The newborn stage feels all-encompassing and exhausting, even if he or she sleeps a lot. (For the parents of colicky babies—you have all my sympathy). Soon enough your little one learns to walk and you are chasing them around while preparing five meals a day. And then baby number two makes their debut and there is the extra complexity of keeping your toddler happy as well. It all builds!
You may have mastered breastfeeding your first baby, but adding a toddler to the mix can really mess with your game. One of the most difficult parts of introducing baby number two to the family is managing the breastfeeding sessions. The luxury of enjoying long, relaxing nursing sessions is gone with a toddler vying for your attention. I developed some tricks along the way and reached out to my mommy squad for their best hacks. Here are my top seven tips to manage breastfeeding sessions with a toddler.
Get Them Involved
Enlist your toddler as your little helper as much as possible, he / she will love it. Whether that’s fetching you a diaper, retrieving the burping cloth, helping to hold the bottle (with mommy’s oversight) or providing an extra hand burping, getting them involved makes them feel needed and special.
Just Like Mommy
Toddlers love to emulate mommy and daddy. Exhibit A? My 2-year-old’s love for all things cleaning—I really hope it last! Thus, I bought my son a baby doll with accessories so he could take care of his baby doll just like mommy. He loves changing his doll’s diaper, burping her and taking care of his baby.
Get a Carrier
A baby carrier has become my life saver. My mom, who has had four kids, likes to brag that she learned to do everything with one hand (carriers weren’t very popular in the 80s)—but why!? A good carrier keeps baby happy and gives you your two hands back to get more done. If a carrier isn’t your thing a bouncer or a swing are also good options, they help keep the baby upright after a feeding session and the motion can be very soothing.
Breastfeeding Toy Box
Put together a box of favorite books and quiet toys like coloring books and stickers. My son knows when I’m breastfeeding the special box comes out and he can hang out with me, read books and play with some of his favorite things.
The Reluctant Backup Plan
When all else fails or just because, the TV is a no-fail solution. Good or bad, once his special show is on I am left to nurse his little brother in peace.
Track Those Sessions
With my first child I was so on top of diapers and nursing time. However with a toddler running around the house it’s easy to forget which boob you used last or track the proper amount of diaper changes and feeding. A mobile app is a great way to track it all and keep you sane. I love the BabyConnect app, but there are a ton from which to choose.
Get Initial Support
If it’s possible, try to get some extra support during that first month to ease the family into the transition. At the beginning those nursing sessions can be very long and since you and baby are still getting to know each other they require your full attention. Soon enough you’ll be able to nurse while doing almost anything, but it’s important to have that initial focus to establish a good routine. Although not possible for all, having an extra set of hands to entertain your toddler at the beginning can go a long way. Here is hoping for more paternity time for dad!
Hope some of these tips help you out. As challenging as it may be, I like to remember that many moms before me have done it—so I can too.