Friday, 19 August 2011

(Breast)feeding a baby with a demanding toddler

Before I had Mia, when I asked other Mums how to breastfeed and simultaneously entertain a toddler, the response I invariably received was "Well, X watches a lot more television than they used to..."

I was very lucky in the early weeks because I had a lot of support from family to enable me to establish breastfeeding. Without this, I really would have struggled. I found that Mia would feed for a little while, have a break, and then come back to it. If it had just been me and Harry, that initial feed would have been all she received. It also got Harry used to the idea that Mia needed her "Mummy Milk" (okay, a bit twee, but it got the point across!). 

Unfortunately, although Harry does watch television, he will very rarely just sit there and watch it. He needs to be doing something else at the same time unless he is very tired. If I tried to settle down in front of the television feeding Mia with him next to me, it would last for a matter of minutes before he would be demanding further entertainment. Even though I am becoming something of an expert at one-handed train track assembly, and snack preparation with a baby attached to me, it's not ideal. 

So I set up a small bag of bits and pieces which I called "Harry's Special Mummy Milk Bag" and I keep it next to the sofa where I usually feed Mia. Into this bag went a variety of small toys -  crayons, jigsaws and the like. It soon became apparent however that my salvation was going to be in stickers. In particular, the foam stickers which I buy from Tesco. They each have a sticky back which a toddler can remove independently, but which is fiddly enough to keep them occupied for at least a minute at a time, and provide a sense of accomplishment once detached.

My local Tesco is a Tesco Extra so carries a large range of craft items. I've found two designs - mixed transport and flowers/butterflies/hearts. They cost me £1.50 a pack unless you can catch them on special offer, which is a little pricey but for me worth every penny.

Tesco foam stickers
Obviously bottle feeding presents challenges too, for one thing both hands are occupied!

So what other ways have you found to keep older ones busy while feeding a baby? Add in the comments!

4 comments:

  1. Do you know it's all a bit hazy, already. Mark was home until Emily was six weeks old which helped a lot. I can remember trying to breastfeed Emily and read Laura books at the same time. But yes CBeebies definitely helped!

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  2. It's a shame that Harry isn't a bit (lot) older, you could have had him making you cups of tea or something while you feed Mia! :)

    I have no experience of trying to breastfeed with a toddler, but I normally get Kit to do jigsaws while I cook his dinner, if that might work. He is getting really good at them now!

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  3. It definitely does help to have someone around to entertain the older one and keep them out of the way.

    Harry did make me a cup of tea with the play tea set yesterday while I was feeding!

    He does love jigsaws but he likes me to help with them. He'll hold up each piece and say "where does this one go?" even though he knows perfectly well!

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  4. I like your idea of a "special bag" for when you are feeding. I used to do sticker books or read to my (then) 2 and half year old when I was feeding my 2nd baby. It is good to make the older child feel special and grown up, not like they have been pushed aside with the arrival of baby. x

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