One question that often comes up on the BFing boards is how to keep a toddler occupied while breast feeding a newborn. As we know, newborns feed frequently, and often feed for a long time so keeping your toddler happy during feeding times presents a bit of a challenge, to say the least! Below is a list of tips compiled from member suggestions and from kellymom.com on how to successfully balance the needs of your growing family. What can I do to prepare my older child for a new baby?
*Before baby is born, it can help to talk with your older child about what newborns are like - what they look like, that they mainly nurse and sleep and cry, and how they need to be held much of the time.
*Tell stories about what your older child was like as a newborn and how you took care of him.
*Discuss things that your older child can do to help with baby: talk and sing to baby, get diapers and wipes, get mom her water bottle.
*Make opportunities for your children to see young babies and nursing babies (a La Leche League meeting can be a great place for this, especially if you don't know any nursing moms), and read books that show newborns and nursing babies.
If your child has weaned or was never breastfed: Explain that mom makes milk for baby, that nursing is how baby eats, and that nursing also helps baby feel better when he's sad or scared or feeling bad.
If your child is still nursing and you expect to tandem nurse: Talk to your child about how he and baby will both nurse after the baby is born. Point out that since baby can't eat other foods like your toddler can, he will need to nurse a lot. Look at pictures of tandem nursing siblings with your child. Here's more on tandem nursing. Should breastfeeding be "hidden" from your older child or other children?
Absolutely not! Modeling nurturing behavior and breastfeeding to your children is one of the best things you can do for them.
By seeing you nurse, your child is learning that breastfeeding is the normal, healthy way to feed a child rather than a "shameful" thing that needs to be hidden away. Breastfeeding is not something that should be hidden from children (or anyone else).
Since most everyone in our culture equates babies with bottles, it's not unusual for other children to be curious when you are breastfeeding your baby. If other children are curious when you are breastfeeding, simply tell them that you are nursing the baby and that nursing is how we feed babies. Again, you are teaching them by example that breastfeeding is the way to feed and nurture babies. General tips
Could you use a free hand when you're nursing? While you're nursing, a pillow can help bring baby to breast level so you have a hand or two free (sometimes it takes weeks or even months to get that free hand... keep trying). If you need to support your breast with your other hand, try using a small rolled-up towel.
A sling will also free up a hand or two. Are you comfortable with using a sling and nursing baby in it? In addition to nursing while you're lying down, this is another lifesaver for many moms. It frees at least one hand and allows you to keep nursing or holding your baby while tending to and playing with another child. Also, as someone I know once mentioned, when baby is in the sling your toddler can't be pulling baby's toes, or trying to get baby out of the crib, or trying to brush baby's "teeth", or dropping toys on baby.
It can be handy to have your toddler around, as many times you can ask them to fetch things for you (a diaper, a wipe, the remote, the phone, a water bottle). I don't know how many times I got settled on the couch with my first baby, then realized I was going to have to get up again to get something I forgot - the second time around I had a helper all day long, instead of only when Dad was home from work. She couldn't hold baby while I took a shower, but it sure did help with the little things.Activities for your older child while baby is nursing
*Read books and snuggle and talk with your toddler while you're nursing. If you don't have a free hand, get your toddler to hold a book and turn the pages while you read.
*Play games - "I Spy" and "Simon Says" are often a big hit with toddlers.
*Play with your food - try counting (and eating) cheerios or raisins with your toddler.
*Some toddlers like to pretend-nurse their dolls or stuffed animals (or trucks!) while mom is nursing baby.
*Look at your toddler's baby book or baby pictures. Tell stories about when your toddler was a little baby. Tell stories about what your toddler can do now that he/she is bigger.
*You can also set your toddler up with other activities to do while you're nursing. Drawing, coloring, puzzles, blocks or big legos, cars/trains, etc. Some moms keep a box of toys that is out only when baby is nursing. We have a play kitchen that keeps my kids interested for a long time - they bring me food to eat and fix food for their dolls and stuffed animals and plastic dinosaurs, and have tea parties. Things like playdough and painting and water play can keep kids interested for a long time, but depending upon where you can set it up and your child, this may or may not be something that works when you're nursing.Tips/activity suggestions compiled from members
(PM a mod if you have more suggestions to add here)
*A special bag of toys that only comes out when the baby is being fed.
*I hate advocating TV, but it works well for nursing time. I would nurse while she watched a 30 minute show (LOVE TIVO), and I was there interacting with her while nursing.
*I never had one, but I think that some people use baby slings.
*I started really early in the pregancy explaining to DD that I would nurse the baby...and she knew- his milk came from my boobs. And she was VERY fascinated the first two weeks. Always wanting to watch, to check my boobs, to see the milk, she even tried to latch on once! I never hid the nursing from her or made it just the baby's. As with all toddlers- her fascination completely disappeared after the beginning stages. When he cries- she'll ask if he needs mommy's milk to make him better.
*I would plan to give ds1 his meals about the time I was going to feed... I "structured" the day into my toddler's routine so it did have some 2.5 & some 3.5 hour intervals. I also practiced ds1 sitting next to me reading books in the last 6 weeks of pregnancy & that was great as he did (& still does) quite happily sit for 1/2 hour reading books.
*I also made sure the first feed was when dh was still home before work & then the last feed after he came home & then one feed often fell while ds#1 was napping, so that only left 2 day feeds...one of which often happened at places like Playgroup etc & I learnt to feed sitting on the grass outside so he could run around playing.
*I heard of another tip that sounded like it worked great for them. This mom gave her daughter (22mo) a doll and the daughter was very excited to "mimic" everything that mommy does. So when mommy is breastfeeding, she gives the baby a bottle of fake EBM. Also, she diapers, sings to, and gives the doll its pacifier.
*Matching cards (she doesn't play, just likes to look and they are easy for us to hand back & forth)
*Woodkins (you can google, it's a doll dressing toy)
*Dora magnets and colorforms (she puts them on our metal door and window respectively)
*Books which I try to read w/one hand
*Ladybug magazine (made by Cricket for 2-5 yo) - She loves it! Would make a great big sibling gift
*A big tub of 100 cookie cutters
*Coloring book w/CRAYONS only so I don't worry if she is wandering around
*Be creative, patient, and hold tight to your sense of humor! Additional readinghttp://www.kellymom.com/babyconcerns/newborn-toddler.html