One of the most common concerns when you have a second child is – How will I keep my toddler amused whilst I’m breastfeeding? Bottle feeding also takes time, and Mums often worry how they’ll cope with a busy toddler when a newborn comes along. I have some tips of my own having had three children, but I’ve also gathered some from my parenting colleagues.
Talk to your older child, prepare them with role play, how it’s going to be when the baby arrives. Get them to do little jobs like bringing you the wipes, putting rubbish in the bin, holding the muslin, getting the nappy. They’ll be more than happy to do their little jobs, and if they know what’s coming, they’ll take it in their stride. Involve family, friends, and other mothers to help you and arrange play dates, coffee mornings, frequent get-togethers to relieve boredom!
Go with the flow
Firstly, the baby doesn’t care where they are, as long as they’re fed, changed and warm. Invest in a baby carrier of some sort so you have your hands free, you can even breastfeed with most of them once you’ve got the knack. Carry on going to your mother and toddler groups, nursery and play dates, and the baby will fall into step. For mums with older children, the school run will just have to be nap time. They will learn by taking in everything from their environment. Natalie from Plutonium Sox agrees, she says “Be out and about all the time. Playgroup, ballet lessons, soft play etc. The toddler is entertained and you can legally feed anywhere – so I did!” Lauren (Belle du Brighton) sings the praises of slings too, saying “As soon as I could I learnt to feed hands free in slings and then we were back to normal!”
Have activities reserved just for feeding time
Keep certain things so they’re special and just for feeding time, the older sibling will look forward to sitting down with them and it will reduce resentment of the baby. Have them brush your hair, collect things for a treasure hunt (that you know you have scattered around), talk to them about when they were babies, reading stories and playing a special game. Sticker books, colouring books, simple puzzles and favourite toys are good too. Laura from Dear Bear and Beany did a bag for her older child, Alice, which contained stickers, books and toys to do together. She knew it was her bag of tricks that we only got out at feeding time. She loved it! Alice had only just turned 2 at the time and it was a way for her to feel included. For an older child, Mandi from Hexmumblog used that time to read a book/do homework, that way they don’t feel it’s time with the baby, it’s time with them too. Create a ‘breastfeeding box,’ says Kate from My Family Fever, full of stuff your toddler is only allowed to play with when you are feeding – new toys, books, colouring, stickers, little sweet treats etc. It makes feeding an exciting time for them and lessens any chance of jealousy. Choose books where they have to concentrate and that last, Maria from Suburban-mum says, “I bought my eldest some puzzle type books and one was where’s wally type one with dinosaurs where you had to find different things in a set scene. He would sit next to me and we’d do that together whilst I fed his baby brother.”