August 7, 2013

Nursing a Newborn with a Toddler Underfoot: creating a peaceful environment

Today is the last day of World Breastfeeding Week. I promise not to post here every article I write in other channels, but this one may be helpful to some of you juggling the needs of two or more little ones!

I wrote this piece for RichmondMom. You can read the full article here

When my second little boy was born, my wild and spirited toddler added a whole new dimension to the already great responsibility of breastfeeding a newborn. I was surprised by how difficult it was to create personal space to nurse, free from curious hands and exuberant limbs. I often felt frustrated and disappointed, craving peace during the many nursing intervals woven throughout every day.

Perhaps you can relate.

Your toddler may be curious about breastfeeding, interested in the new baby, or vying for your undivided attention. He is likely to explore and test his limits when your attention is directed to the new baby. He may interpret your sitting down to nurse as his cue to try out some new tricks, wedge himself behind your back, or stretch out on top of little sister.

Juggling the demands of a nursing newborn and the emotional needs of an active toddler may test your patience and your breastfeeding resolve but you can plan ahead to work with your toddler and make the best of your family’s transition.

Create a safe environment that works for you and your toddler: Set up a comfortable nursing station with everything you need within arms reach: burp cloths, a nursing pillow, a water bottle, easy to eat snacks, and your phone. Orient your nursing station in close proximity to the area in which your toddler plays, or bring your toddlers play toys near to your nursing station. Baby proof the designated space so that your child can explore freely, and consider creating a closed space with a baby gate or a locked door to keep your little one within sight.

Talk to your toddler about babies: Share stories about what he was like as a newborn and how you cared for him. Talk about what newborns look like, how they spend their time, and what makes them happy. Newborns nurse a lot, they sleep, and they cry. Babies love to be held, they enjoy silly voices and funny faces, they like to explore with their mouths and hands. Talk about the ways that your older child can help you to care for their little brother or sister. We love the book Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, a celebration of babies and the many ways they are cared for. Talk openly about breastfeeding and explain it in simple terms that your toddler will understand.

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