Nursing with Siblings

Nursing with SiblingsKnowing how to handle siblings while nursing a newborn is something that crosses most new second and beyond Mother’s minds. It can be daunting, juggling older children and a newborn nursing sessions, but with a little patience it can be a beautiful family dynamic that draws everyone closer together.

Children have a natural curiosity about breastfeeding. As siblings see the baby feeding, they may wonder why s/he does this, what it tastes like, what it feels like and whether they did this as babies. This is a perfect chance to keep answers simple and matter of fact, allowing older siblings to watch the baby feed and share stories about them as babies, how they used to nurse and their babyhood. Older children can help out by bringing your nursing pillow, a drink or snack and holding the baby before a nursing session.

Often, younger children ask for a sample or to try nursing. This is completely up to the mother. Personally, I have given my older boys a few drops on my fingers to satisfy their curiosity. And this was one singular instance that they never asked for again. Also remembering that older children get their nutrition from other sources and the newborn depends on that milk for his nourishment can be a reason for not sharing the milk.

Keeping the children busy while nursing a newborn can also be a challenge, and keeping a few “nursing only” activities handy can be helpful. A small basket of quiet toys, busy books, or .games that only come out when baby nurses can be very helpful. Some mothers have used the tv as a distraction – only when baby nurses do the older children get to watch a show.

While nursing a baby and juggling siblings can be a challenge, it can also be a wonderful time for family bonding and sharing love. Welcoming a new baby is such a special time for everyone and it is wonderful to share the feeding experience with older children.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom to three boys. She lives in Portland, OR.

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