Having a toddler and a new baby can be a big adjustment. It’s easy to wonder how you’ll be able to make breastfeeding work when you now have two little ones to look after.
In the early days you may feel like all your attention is on your baby and you’re not able to give your toddler the attention they are used too.
I found myself in this position early this year. I gave birth to my third child and my second baby was just a couple months away from turning three. After coming down from the ecstasy of having an amazing home birth, it was a bit of a shock to the system. I had to find my way very early on if I wanted to make breastfeeding successful whilst also meeting the needs of my toddler.
These are my survival tips for breastfeeding whilst looking after a toddler.
Ask for hands-on support during the postpartum stage
First thing I did was call in the troops. They say it takes a village to raise a child and it also takes a village to raise a mother too. I needed support. And I needed to be very clear about what kind of support I wanted. In modern society we do need to ask and that’s okay, sometimes it’s not an obvious given.
It’s important to remember that caregivers and partners can help in many ways – and not just by feeding the baby. For example, you can suggest they bath the baby, change nappies, take baby on a walk in the pram, or even wind them after a feed. Other fantastic ways they can support you is by playing with your toddler and doing some housework!
What helped me most was when my partner meal prepped and my mother in law took my toddler for a couple of hours. This allowed me to focus on baby and feed without distractions. If you need support do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for it. Hundreds of years ago we would have been in tribes, we wouldn’t need to ask it would just be a given that we would have this support and care.
What helped me most was when my partner meal prepped and my mother in law took my toddler for a couple of hours.
Find easy ways to entertain your toddler whilst you nurse the baby
My partner went back to work within days of me giving birth and I knew I’d really miss his help with looking after our almost three-year old. I decided that when I’d be feeding the baby I’d give my toddler a box of toys to entertain him. He read me his favourite books while his sister contact napped. I made sure to change up his toy selection every couple of days so he didn’t get bored.
When I wasn’t feeding my baby, they often got carried around in a sling or carrier. This allowed me to be hands-free to tend to my toddler and play with them, as well as do things about the house.
Other things that helped me throughout the day with my toddler was prepping his lunches, and preparing his drinks before my partner left for the day. I also allowed my toddler more screen time than usual, and I didn’t feel guilty because I was doing all I could do. Was it perfect? No, but it doesn’t have to be.
Break the day up with walks and meetups
As the postpartum fog lifted I felt better able to get out and about. Being with a toddler and baby all day in the house is hard work so I needed that time outdoors to feel a bit more refreshed.
We started small and walks with the pram helped break up the day. Once I felt more able, I went along to baby and toddler groups. The toddler played and I got to nurse baby, and get some adult conversation. Win win!
The toddler played and I got to nurse baby, and get some adult conversation. Win win!
I also went back to my local breastfeeding group. Check to see if you have one in your area. They can be a great space for solidarity and communication. A safe space.
Remember to give yourself grace
Remember this is a season, it passes and changes. Give yourself grace you are looking after children and doing the most important job you can do. So if you feel like you haven’t “done anything today,” you kept a tiny human and a toddler alive.
You are magic.