How do I Deal with Older Children While Nursing a Baby?

Breastfeeding a newborn can be a wonderful bonding time. With your first child, you have time to devote to your nursling, and once you get the hang of it you really start to love the special time you have together.

Although still special, breastfeeding a newborn with older children around can be a bit difficult. You have more than one child that needs your attention along with potential sibling rivalry. Having your older child play a role in the nursing process can really make the situation easier!

Those first few weeks the new baby is home, the older child might have a lot of questions. They will probably want to watch you nurse their new brother or sister, and that’s great. Let them snuggle up with you and answer any questions they may have about the nursing process. If they’re like my kids, there will be a lot of questions. You can also encourage them to get a doll or stuffed animal that they love  to “nurse” so they feel included.

Other ways you can include big brother or sister would be having them help you while you are tied up in nursing. Some parents create a drawer or bin down low of basic baby items—wipes, diaper, burp rags, changes of clothes, baby toys—that big brother or sister can access easily to they can help. They can also help by bringing you a snack or water bottle. This helps them feel needed and special. You can emphasize how they are such a big helper, and how baby can’t do anything like that yet.

If you need a distraction for the older child, I recommend a busy box. A busy box is a box containing special toys they can only play with while you are nursing.

Our busy box had Melissa and Doug color blast coloring books, crayons and contraction paper, finger puppets, busy bags, magnetic paper dolls, her nursing baby, a few puzzles, and special treats she could eat.

They box was always a big hit and I made sure to change things out frequently so it was always new and exciting. You can find more fun ideas to fill your box online. You can also make a big deal of going shopping for things to put in the box as a way to make brother or sister feel special. If you don’t want to buy new things, have them help you pick out toys or play items from around the house.

The most important thing is to make sure older kids feel wanted and involved. They generally only act out if they’re feeling ignored, or jealous even if that isn’t the case.

How did you help your older child feel included?

Allison Klaine is raising her two kids and two dogs in Southern Illinois. She hopes to share her passion for cloth diapering, living with less, and JJ Abrams television shows.

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