You're expecting a new baby, and you're wondering how to prepare your older child for the exciting arrival. Well, one thing you can do is have a chat with your older child about what newborns are like. You can describe how they look, that they spend most of their time nursing, sleeping, and crying, and that they need to be held a lot.
Oh, and here's a fun idea! You can tell stories about what your older child was like when they were a baby and how you took care of them. It'll help them understand that they were once in the same position as the new baby.
Another great tip is to involve your older child in caring for the baby. Talk about the things they can do to help, like talking and singing to the baby, getting diapers and wipes, or even fetching mom her water bottle. It's a wonderful way to make them feel included and responsible.
Now, let's talk about breastfeeding. If your child has weaned or was never breastfed, you can explain to them that mom makes milk for the baby, and nursing is how the baby gets their food. Also, let them know that nursing helps the baby feel better when they're sad, scared, or not feeling well.
If your child is still nursing and you plan to tandem nurse (breastfeed both), you can have a conversation about it. Explain that both the baby and your older child will nurse after the baby is born. Show them pictures of siblings tandem nursing, and you can find more information on the topic if you're interested.
One important thing to mention is that you don't need to hide breastfeeding from your older child or any other children. Actually, it's quite the opposite! It's a great opportunity to model nurturing behavior and show them that breastfeeding is a normal and healthy way to feed a child. It's not something to be ashamed of or hidden away. Breastfeeding is a natural part of life that children can learn from and understand.
Let's talk about how to handle situations when other children are curious about it. You know, most people associate babies with bottles, so it's natural for other kids to be curious when they see you breastfeeding. If they ask about it, simply explain to them that you're nursing the baby and that it's how we feed and nurture babies. By showing them through your example, you're teaching them that breastfeeding is the normal way to care for little ones.
Now, here are a few general tips that might come in handy while you're nursing.
- If you need a free hand, using a pillow can help bring the baby up to breast level. It may take some practice, but it's worth a try. And if you find yourself needing to support your breast with your other hand, a small rolled-up towel can be quite helpful.
- Are you comfortable with using a sling while nursing? It's a lifesaver for many moms as it allows you to nurse while having at least one hand free. This way, you can tend to and play with your other child while feeding the baby. Plus, it's an excellent way to keep the older sibling from trying to pull the baby's toes or get them out of the crib or any other mischievous activities.
- Having your toddler around can actually be quite handy. Many times, you can ask them to fetch things for you, like a diaper, wipes, the remote, the phone, or a water bottle. It's like having a little helper by your side throughout the day. They might not be able to hold the baby while you take a shower, but they can certainly assist with those little tasks that make a big difference.
- Now, let's talk about activities you can do with your older child while you're nursing. You can snuggle up and read books together or have a cozy chat. If you don't have a free hand to turn the pages, let your toddler hold the book and do the page-turning while you read. It can be a fun and engaging experience for both of you. Playing games like "I Spy" and "Simon Says" often work wonders with toddlers. It keeps them entertained and engaged while you're occupied with the baby. You can also get creative with food and try counting and eating cheerios or raisins together.
- Some toddlers enjoy pretending to nurse their dolls or stuffed animals (or even trucks!) while you're breastfeeding. It can be a cute way for them to mimic what they see and feel involved in the process. You can also take a trip down memory lane and look at your toddler's baby book or baby pictures. Share stories about when they were a little baby and talk about all the things they can do now that they're older.
- If you need some uninterrupted rest or even a quick nap while the baby naps, you can childproof a room in your house. Make sure it has a door or a baby gate to keep your toddler from wandering off into mischief. Set up a comfortable spot on the bed or the floor where you can lie down and nurse. Fill the room with interesting toys that your child can play with independently. Some moms even put on their child's favorite video to keep them entertained. Don't forget to provide a snack and a drink for your toddler as well.
- Lastly, it's not uncommon for older children, even toddlers, to express curiosity about nursing themselves after the new baby arrives. They might want to know if mom will say yes and might even crave some extra attention or nurturing. If you're comfortable with it, you can allow them to touch or kiss the breast gently, and often, they'll just giggle and go back to playing. However, if you prefer not to offer nursing, you can offer them a taste of breastmilk in a cup or simply distract them with another activity. It's all about finding what works best for you and your child.
We hope these tips and suggestions help you navigate the beautiful journey of breastfeeding while caring for your older child.
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