Breastfeeding Questions: How Can I Feed My New Baby with a Toddler Running Around?

Lisa asks: “I understand that I will have my hands full with both a toddler and a baby! What are some ideas for feeding a newborn with a toddler?”

Today I want to talk through some tips to help you while feeding your new baby and (trying to) play with a toddler at the same time. Lisa has a little girl who will need to have lots of attention still when baby arrives. Sometimes this can cause worry for mums thinking about how they are going to manage both...

Here are a few tips which have worked for many mums and toddlers and you may find helpful too:

Buy your toddler a new doll or teddy and gift it from their new brother or sister. Place a nappy on the new teddy and engage your toddler in the check-ups with the midwife/doctor like weighing baby. Ask the midwife to weigh the doll/teddy too! This can help your toddler to understand and engage in their new sibling a little better.

Try and do nappy changes together; with your toddler “changing” teddy. You will probably find that in no time at all your toddler is already copying what you are doing, especially when it comes to feeding. You will find your toddler will ‘breastfeed’ their own teddy, this is very normal and the cutest photo opportunity!

All of this play is what lays down the foundations for us to learn normal feeding behaviour, and this is true whether your child is a girl or boy. Never be worried that this is not a good thing for boys to do, we all learn by watching and copying, boys and girls are the same.

A toddler who wants your attention particularly when you are breastfeeding is very normal. This may be by sitting with you and asking for you to play or it could be by doing things they are not meant to, (like climbing on furniture!) when your feeding their sibling. Feeding can look to your toddler like you are cuddling only the baby and that they are not invited.

Of course, this is not what you’re doing at all, but it can be why tears or tantrums start with some toddlers in the early days. It can be helpful to include them in the feeding by preparing a few ideas in advance.

Here are some tips which mums have found helpful:

  • Take your toddler with you to buy their “special boxes” – find some small plastic food containers, the ones that come in a six-pack with the different coloured lids are perfect. These will now be your toddlers own “big girl/boy boxes”.
  • Each morning fill the boxes with healthy snacks; cucumber, cheese, tomatoes, egg, carrots, raisins, etc. Store the boxes somewhere your toddler can access on their own safely.
  • Every time baby wants a feed, ask your toddler to “go and get one of your snacks, as your baby sister is having hers with mummy”. This way the feeding is being shared and no one is ‘missing out’
  • Try feeding your baby in a side position, this way the whole other side of your body is ‘free’ to cuddle and be with your toddler, allowing them to snuggle in close to you still.
  • Each week go to your local library or toy library and pick up new books/puzzles or things which you can do with one arm (the other one will be holding your baby who is feeding!). This way every breastfeed your toddler gets a snack, a cuddle and a book read to them or a game played with them.

This helps to make feeding times a more relaxed event and can help with any initial jealous reactions which can occur at first with some toddlers.

For more tips and to share your own tips head over to our Medela Australia Facebook page.

What breastfeeding questions do you have? How would you describe your breastfeeding experience? Please join the conversation.