Managing Older Siblings While Breastfeeding

June 1, 2012
Managing Older Siblings While Breastfeeding

Moms are multi-taskers. But, for a mom with multiple children, managing older siblings while breastfeeding isn’t always easy. We recommend educating your children, including them in the breastfeeding experience, and getting a little creative.

Get ready for questions

It’s safe to assume that most toddlers and older children will be curious about breastfeeding your newest baby. Some children may be jealous of the time spent “cuddling” their new brother or sister and demand similar affection from you. Others may hover and ask questions about breastfeeding. Explaining breastfeeding to your children in in terms that are simple and relatable will help them understand and ease the experience.

Make it family time

Don’t feel obligated to exclude your other children from your breastfeeding experience. Your curious and potentially jealous children want that special time with mommy too. Breastfeeding is an excellent time to relax with all your children and listen to music or watch a show. Try letting your older children snuggle with you, so they can share a similar emotional connection. Don’t forget about other family members too. It’s important they’re involved as well. We suggest reading a book aloud or initiating another family tradition.

Get creative

You can use this time to teach your older children about responsibility and show them how gratifying being a “good helper” can be. Ask them to get you a glass of water or a blanket to make you or baby more comfortable. Then, shower them with gratitude or kisses when they complete the task. By helping out, they’ll feel included in the breastfeeding experience and feel rewarded by your praise.

Some children don’t demand your attention while breastfeeding. So, try reserving time for their favorite activities while you nurse.  This will keep them focused and entertained, allowing you to relax and focus on nourishing your baby. Remember, relaxation plays a key role in breastfeeding success.

Moms, what helped you manage older siblings while breastfeeding? Share in the comments below.

14 thoughts on “Managing Older Siblings While Breastfeeding

    • I would say to just tell him exactly what it is. There is no simple way to explain some things to children. You would be surprised at how much they really do understand.

    • I explained it in “animal” terms. Mammals nurse their young. I asked questions like, “where do you think milk comes from?” We talked about kittens and puppies nursing too. She didn’t seem to care. She had a friend spend the night and that little girl had tons of questions though, concluding with, “that’s gross!” Ha ha. I guess different kids have different responses.

  1. Nice article. My twin daughters are 2.5 years old. It is so cute to me when my now 10 week old daughter starts to get hungry and my twins will tell me how “Logan (the 10 week old) needs to eat your booby mommy!” I love how normalizing the breastfeeding with my older daughters has made me more confident with it in general, since BFing did not work with the twins. They also like to help me get my pump together in order to express milk for work. I love that they pretend nurse their dolls as well. I think I’ve learned that if it’s not a big deal to you, it’s not a big deal and “normal” to them. To the woman trying to explain it to her 8 year old son, I would say the same thing I do to my young daughters–that you’re feeding the baby. I think it will help my children learn that breasts should not be over-sexualized.

  2. We explained it by telling our 4 and 2 year olds that people and animals feed their babies this way. My daughter (2) likes to try to help and will come and try to hold my breast while my son is eating. She also “breastfeeds” her baby dolls. People look at us like we are odd, but I’m not gonna hide it from my kids, because it is a natural part of life.

  3. Hello, I have a 5 year old, 3 year old and an 18 month old and I am due with my 4th any day now! I breastfed my 18 month old for about 4 weeks and then just gave up. I want to breast feed, supplement and pump with my next but I’m not sure how to do it (schedule, when to do what, what about when I go back to work) any advice??

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