Breastfeeding is hard. And you don't realize HOW hard it is until you do it, because a lot of women make it look easy. That being said, many women say the process gets easier as you go along, and you can fall into a routine of sorts. Unfortunately, all that hard work and knowledge can go out the window when you throw a toddler into the mix.
Toddlers are little people who think the world revolves around them. They constantly want your attention, and need you to see and participate in everything they're doing. This becomes mighty difficult when you're trying to teach your second born (or third, fourth, etc.) how to latch properly. If you, like many moms, find that breastfeeding is massively difficult with a toddler, here are our best tips for achieving it all without having to resort to TV time.
Prepare Your Child Beforehand
If you have the luxury of reading this post before baby #2 or successive children come along, take some time to prepare your firstborn for the upcoming process of breastfeeding. Explain to your child that breastfeeding is a way that babies get their food. Your body produces milk for the baby to eat, and breastfeeding can also help your baby calm down when he or she is scared, hurting, or sad.
Make an effort to teach your child that breastfeeding is a normal part of life and will soon be part of your routine. If it helps, show your child books about how moms breastfeed their kids--this will take the curious or "hidden" nature out of the transition. In my opinion, it's helpful to teach your child from the beginning that breastfeeding is a positive act that should be free of shame. It is a normal act of nurturing than something dirty that should be done in secret. This will help your child understand its importance as well as is normalcy.
Invest in a Quality Breastfeeding Pillow
Ergobaby Natural Curve Nursing Pillow - Brown
Whether you prefer a compact or full-support breastfeeding pillow, most options do offer additional support. The newborn stage can be tricky, but having a supportive breastfeeding pillow will only help you be more stable and even keep a hand free to help entertain your toddler. You can also try less involved breastfeeding with a variety of wraps and slings.
Let Your Child Be Involved
Small children tend to act out when they feel they aren't getting enough attention, and this is all too common when you're breastfeeding your newborn. Your toddler likely feels like the new baby is encroaching on his or her space, and so he/she will become unreasonably needy or decide to throw a fit each time you sit down to nurse. One way to combat this behavior is by making your child feel like a productive part of the process.
Meri Meri Character Cushions
Give your toddler various tasks as you breastfeed. You can buy your toddler some type of doll for them to take care of including feeding, changing, and burping. If that doesn't appeal to your toddler, ask them to help you by bringing over your water bottle, diaper bag, or a burp cloth. Help your toddler feel important and thank them for anything they do to help, so they feel capable and needed, despite the new needy family member.
Try a "Breastfeeding Box"
Invest in a few well-chosen toys and books that you keep in a special "breastfeeding box" for your child. When it's time to breastfeed, bring out the box and let your toddler enjoy the new toys, books, or snacks to keep them occupied.
Keep the toys small and entertaining, while the books should be colorful with easy-to-turn pages. Dress-up items and accessories are a perfect way to distract your little princess while breastfeeding baby brother or sister.
Hape Toys Mighty Minis - Bulldozer
You can rotate things in and out of the box from time to time to keep things fresh, but always make sure that the things inside have an element of novelty to them; i.e. your child hasn't played with them or seen them much before. This should help your child feel special and wanted, and may even help them look forward to breastfeeding time.
Be Patient and Creative
Nothing is perfect when you're just getting used to having more than one child, because your normal routine is turned inside out! With sleep deprivation and trying to manage so many new relationships (toddler+newborn, newborn+toddler, mom+newborn, newborn+mom, dad+newborn, newborn+dad, etc.), it's no wonder things can be a little tricky at first. Find times to spend with just your toddler to let them know that they are loved. Help facilitate activities where your toddler can help care for the new baby and show love and affection.