40 answers

Breastfeeding Jealousy

This is going to sound a little crazy but here goes, My third child was born in June and she is strictly breastfed. My son who turned 2 in May is having a lot of jealousy issues w/ my breastfeeding. Majority of the time he is too busy to even notice I'm breastfeeding her but others he screams and crys for me to let him breastfeed! He hasn't been breastfed since he was 5 months old!! He gets very upset when I tell him that the baby needs to breastfeed and he doesn't and he throws a huge fit pulling on my shirt and trying to get to my breast. My husband says let him try it, he probably won't like it and we can move on but I'm afraid he will like it! I know people breastfeed children that old but to start then seems kind of sick?! I don't know what to do or how to make him understand the baby 'needs the boobie'!!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First of thanks to everyone who replied! There was a great array of advice, alot of it we had tried and some we tried over the weekend. I just coudn't bring myself to breastfeed him again or let him try. I know that is completely normal for children that age to 'still' be breastfeeding but for him to start felt very uncomfortable and unnatural compared to when they are smaller and grow up doing it so The first time he did it this weekend I did the explaining it to him (which i've tried before)didn't work so tried a snack,book (also tried b4) and he wasn't having it but gave up eventually w/ daddy home. The second time he tried it I made him a sippy w/ chocolate milk and took off my shirt so I was just in my nursing bra and let him lay on my other side that I wasn't nursing on. He just laid his head on my chest and watched tv but seem so relaxed w/ me. So I was ready when he did it again and again we did it and he remained calmed and just rested w/ me and he popped up much sooner and went on his way! I think he just wants the comfort of knowing he is still mama's baby and although we spend alot of one on one time together while baby is asleep and big sis is at school this was one thing he felt left out on and we fixed it! Thanks again!

Featured Answers

awwww. the little guy is jealous of the bonding time I bet. not so much the breast. He sees you spending one on one time with the baby who is already the center of attention everywhere else he goes. I bet he just needs some mommy time. Maybe when he gets upset and says that he wants to breast feed, you can try telling him that you need to feed the baby right now, but after she's finished, you and he can sit down and have a snack or play a game or whatever he's into.

I bet he just misses being the baby :) I know i did! :) my parents still tell stories of me trying to boot my sisters off my parents laps when they were feedign them. :)

By no means try it!!!You would be opening a new can of worms. You are exactly right the might like it and he is already past that phase in his life. He will learn it is not for him in time.

I to breastfeed all 3 of my sons. When my middle son was 2 I became pregnant with the youngest. When the milk started to changed he pretty much gave up the breast. Every once in a while he would try again and decide it was still YUCK! After the baby was born he wanted to try again. I let him. He still said YUCK!- The baby was only 2 days old. He did try a few more times when the baby was older but would just do it for a few minutes then decide that he would rather play.Good Luck

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2 yr olds have not had enough nurturing. That is why he is jealous. Get a front carrier and strap her on, so you wear her all of the time. That leaves hands free to cuddle 2 yr old. Tell him all of the time to get a book he likes because when baby gets fed, big boy gets a story. I read all of the time to my 21/2 yr old. Had breast fed for a year to him, and never had an issue. You may be making too big a thing out of having to feed her. If he continues, tell him that you are going to feed him after you feed her. When she is full, lay her down and feed him. There won't be much left, and I don't think he will stay interested, but he will have tried, and that is the point, he wants to see for himself! Sounds like you are a very good mother for being so young, good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi E.,
Sounds like you've got a very normal two year old!
I have recently gone through the same thing - I have a 3 month old son and his big sister is 22 months older. When I got home from the hospital with the new baby, she was not impressed. She was very jealous of time time I was spending with baby brother. She too wanted to nurse, so I let her try - she couldn't make it work and that was the end of it. I have adjusted nap times so I can spend more one-on-one with big sister. My husband also has made a special point of doing activities with her on the weekends. Now that life is a little more "normal" and we have all adjusted to the new routines everyone is happy.
By the way, I exclusively breastfed my daughter who self weaned at 14 months.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with your husband. Let him try it. Ask if he'd like a taste. I allowed my son to taste my breast milk after our daughter was born. He smiled and went off happy.
I don't know what reaction you will get after having refused to allow him to taste it, but, I would think it would be fine. Just be calm and smile and ask him, how is it. And say, okay,(all done) maybe have something interesting to distract him. He may want another taste,right then, or at another time, so, let him.
You may explain, when appropriate, maybe, as he's eating some of his favorite food(s), that, his sister cannot eat that, show her gums, no teeth, etc.
Just go with the flow, no pun intended.
The breast to him is very natural and he sees it as what it was intended.
Hope this helps.
My children are adults, now. Enjoy your family.

1 mom found this helpful

Chances are he will not remember how to. The way a babe sucks while nursing is different they would from a bottle, sippy, or regular cup. So he would probably only do it for a second and realize that he can't get anything and be done. But...if he does...then it is not a big deal. He is two...I know a lot of two year old that are still nursing...mine included. He probably won't do it for very long. Congrats on the new babe...and keep up the hard work mama!

1 mom found this helpful

My oldest son was 2 years old when his brother was born. I would get him a sippy cup of milk, cookies, and a stack of books. We would read books while I nursed the baby. He would hold the book and turn the pages and I would read to him. It worked well--no sibling jealousy. He got attention every time the baby got attention. We called it "Mommy time." They both got mommy!

1 mom found this helpful

E.,

Sounds like what he really needs is close, private, personal time with you. Perhaps there is a time of day when someone else can take the baby that you can spend intimate, uninterrupted time with your son. Even if only 15 -20 minutes a day. He needs reassurance that you will still take care of him, too.

He has been the baby for two years, the transition to 'big boy' will be difficult for him at times. Get him as involved in caring for the baby as possible, to help him see how 'big' he really is. Have him get the blankie or the diaper or point to things in a picture book to show the baby new new things. This will give him a sense of importance & responsibility towards his new sister.

Hang in there, you will find your way!

P

ps. my son was 2 when I had my daughter & one day he came up to me, hugged me, patted my belly and said "she needs to go back inside..." A little extra love & attention seemed to really work.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't know why starting then seems any different than continuing to/through that age.

I agree with your husband. Let him try. He may not even remember how to breastfeed in which case he'll get bored with it and move on.

If you are really against trying with him maybe you could have a special basket of toys and books that he can play with and look at with you while your breastfeeding your DD.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

He's only two, he still needs that feeling of love and security that breastfeeding provides. Why did he wean at only 5 months? That is way earlier than the APA promotes. I'm with your husband, let him try. Chances are he will be satisfied with just one "taste". His curiosity will be satisfied and let it go at that. But if he "likes it" it means he was weaned prematurely and should be given a chance to make up for those lost months. Providing for his emotional needs now means he will be a more secure independant person in the long run.

1 mom found this helpful

Let him breast feed. Honestly, your body will make plenty of milk for both baby #1 and him, if he's interested. Our bodies are wonderful like that! Look into Tandem Nursing, if you have concerns with breast feeding both kids, it's perfectly normal and you shouldn't push him away. He sounds like a typical 2 year old who is very curious about what his mamma is doing. It's not sick to start breast feeding again, think about the amazing nutrients you are giving your son, if he does try breast feeding again. I know my 2 year old is a very picky eater and doesn't always eat all her vegetables during the day, so the thought of her getting nutrients from me too would be great.

I would do this....nurse your beautiful baby girl first, then if your son shows interests, tell him to wait till his sister is done and you have a free hand to hold him. Put your little one down in the pack n' play or swing or wherever. Then very calmly explain what this is, and that he use to breast feed as a baby and if he would like to try he can. You might want to lay down some rules, like no biting etc.... He may not be familiar with how to latch on since he stop nursing at 5 months old so learning how to do such again might be difficult for him to do. Not impossible, but you might be surprised with how quickly he might pick it up again.

Try to get over the fact that this is "sick", it's not, it's beautiful!!! Your giving your child(ren) the most amazing, wonderful, and nutritious thing ever! And it's FREE!!!! There are women who breast feed their kids well into their toddler years. So don't be worried by it!

Good luck!!

A. B

My son did this too when my daughter was born. He was 26 months older, so essentially we are dealing with the same age range. The issue with my son wasn't really the milk but the mommy, so I assigned one leg "his leg." When I got ready to nurse, I would get her in position and feeding, then I would let him gently climb on his side and I would hold him too. If you can manage to sit Indian style, this is how I sat to make it easier. I also made sure when the baby was napping I let him know that this was "his" time and I would do an activity with him that he really liked. It all worked out!

DEAR E.

You both sound like a very good and wize Mommy and Daddy. You love all your children in so many ways.
I beleave your son is seeing what he once had that was so close to you and wants it again.
Maybe do your feeding in a quiet place alone with your Daughter who also need that closeness just for now.
Don't let your son know you are doing it for a while just a little while. Then slowly see the he understand in his little mind of wonder that you love her too in that special way.
Then go to him and take the time to show him you love him in very special way (sippy cup of a very special drink, a book that has beautiful picture of nature like Butterflies and flowers that show wonderful colors of a rainbow).
He sounds like a very special son to both of you.
And your other little gift. The sweet 5 year old daughter.
She too will look and watches in wonder and feel how wonderful you and Daddy are to her and her Brother and little sister.
I hope both of you have a wonderful life with your beautiful gifts of love.

Have a good day Today
Vicki W.

Hi E.,

Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. I shared a similar experience with both my older children when their siblings arrived.

In my experiences it wasn't so much about wanting to breastfeed, they wanted to know what the baby was having. My oldest was turning 4 when his sister arrived and hadn't nursed since he was 20m. My middle child was 3 when her sister was born and she weaned at 33m. They asked to try but didn't remember how to latch on. Both times, I offered to pump milk and let them try. So they tried it and decided that they prefered to eat food instead.

Don't stress about it. If he asks and you're not comfortable letting him try to latch on, offer to pump some for him so he can try. Chances are he'll prefer cold drinks to the warm milk & won't ask again.

One thing I found incredibly helpful was to have a special book basket that my children could pull out when I was nursing the baby. My older child was able to read and spend time with mom just like the baby was but in his/her own way.

Good luck to you.

Peace,
J.

Okay, nothing sick about breastfeeding, but if he is weaned no need to go back. ( : Try expressing some milk in a spoon and let him taste, he probably won't like it. But, I think what he really wants is you. Can you set a specific "date" time that is just for him with you? He needs a mommy date on a regular basis and something that is special to the two of you. Good luck!

Hi E.,
maybe his issue lies more with wanting to feel close with you than actually wanting to breastfeed. He is still a baby in his own right, and misses spending more one on one time with his mommy since the new baby has arrived. Think of something that the two of you could do together to make him feel special. Everyone always says the middle child gets left out the most, so maybe he is just feeling left out. You could have 30 minutes or so of time spent just the two of you doing something he enjoys. You could read his favorite books, or play outside together, or try some simple crafts with him. Maybe have him be your special helper while you cook supper. When it's time to nurse the baby tell him that since he is such a big boy, you need him to help you feed the baby, and have him bring you a burpcloth or any little thing he can do to feel useful. Give him lots of praise for being such a good big brother and helping mommy. Hope this will help, congrats on your beautiful family.

I tandem nursed for 1.25 years. I did not plan to, but my older one did NOT want to let go of it. I alway made sure the baby went first and then my older on. I would say to let him try.

H. mother of three and birth doula

My first two boys are 20 months apart so I went through something like this. My older son would get jealous of the feeding time and would want to join in and lift my shirt. I solved the issue by just holding him while feeding my younger son. I had one on each knee so to speak. Something like this might work for you and maybe give your son a cup of milk while he sits with you and your daughter. I agree with you about not wanting to start him back up, because he will most likely enjoy the milk from you. Good Luck!

When my son was 2 1/2 my daughter was born. I made feeding time, bonding time for all of us by reading to my 2 year old when feeding my baby. he sat on the opposite side and all sat snuggled reading.

That does sound a little crazy, but very familiar. The same thing happened to me. My first two were 13 months apart and I stopped breastfeeding soon after learning I was pregnant with the second one. My oldest son seemed happy about it until he saw his little brother breastfeeding. He cried and probably threw tantrums too. My husband may also have encouraged me to let him try it, but I held my ground. So my husband began distracting the older one, playing with him or taking walks, so I could concentrate on the baby.

Talk with your husband when (if!) you have a moment alone. Discuss activities he can do with the two older ones while you focus on your new little girl. He should be your biggest asset in defeating this problem.

Btw, my son is now 26, the father of two, and very well-rounded. The experience didn't hurt him in the least (he probably doesn't even remember).

I agree with your husband and was given the same advice with my second, his brother was two and a half. He had been nursed until he was 20 months. Here is the kicker....your eldest won't remember how to do it correctly. My eldest wanted to do it. I let him try and nothing came out. That was that and he never asked again. That was almost a year ago. The real issue is probably that he wants more cuddle time with you. See if you can make time for it when the other is napping.

Have you explained that the baby can only eat that way? Explain that when he was the baby that is how he ate. Also you can explain to him that all the foods he eats, name his favorites, are for "big kids" and that if he ate like his baby sister that he could not have....cheese, milk in a cup, peanut butter, etc Whatever his favorites are, tell him that he won't be able to have these things anymore if he chooses to eat this way. Explain that the baby will choke b/c she doesn't have any teeth and can't chew like he can. Then, ask him if he is afraid that he is not mommy's baby anymore, if this is the case, tell him that you will still hold him, rock him, etc and then pick him up and hold him like a baby. Explain how he will always be your baby "boy" and that you still love him the same as you always have....etc I don't think I would let him try it, you are right, he might like it! I would feel uncomfortable too. Just keep reinforcing that this is the only thing she eats, point out whenever he eats how she cannot eat that, etc.

Good luck! W.

I, like some of the others, let my second child try it to quell some jealousy. He, also, disgustedly spit out the milk and never asked about it again.

I agree with your husband.

Unfortunately you will have that kind of rivalry and jealousy the rest of your life. He only wants it because the baby is getting your attention and he wants it. Whether or not he likes it if you let him try it, he will probably do it if you let him simply because the baby does. So then you will have to contend with that. Are you going to tell him no or let him keep doing it?
It is really a personal call. I don't know what I would do either.
Good luck. Just weight out what could and couldn't happen and see if that is the way that you want to go.

Hi E.,
If you let him try, I'm sure that he probably will not any longer know how to latch on. Then you can tell him that it is because only babies can "eat" the babyfood. He gets to eat big boy food like bananas, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, etc. and the baby does not get to eat any of that kind of good food, only "babyfood."
Good luck and hope this helps!
T.

I am sure you've tried everything... maybe you can try telling him that the baby wants a sippy cup, like his, but can't have it yet. That a sippy cup is just for him...boobie is just for her. By the time she needs to use a sippy, I'm sure he'll forget all about it.
If it is an attention thing, maybe you can have him sit with you while you nurse and read a book to him so he's getting attention at the same time.

I think your instincts are right. I am sure he will like it, and even if he doesn't he will pretend to like it. After all it's the closeness with you he wants not the milk. How about letting him do something while you nurse. Maybe playdough at the kitchen table or a special coloring book that he only gets to do when you nurse. I have three kids also, and when the jealousy issues came up I found ways to let them help me take care of the new baby. Bringing me the special nursing blanket, singing a lullaby, helping me bath them etc...

By no means try it!!!You would be opening a new can of worms. You are exactly right the might like it and he is already past that phase in his life. He will learn it is not for him in time.

I would think you would be opening up pandora's box if you let him breastfeed. If he stopped at 5 months then he stopped. Maybe tell him that the baby does not get things like ice cream and he is a big boy and gets stuff like that. I too am at home with a new born and my 3 year old said he wanted some milk a couple of times and then it stopped. Maybe your husband can take the baby for a bit and you spend some time with your 2 year old. I have heard of people who have let there kids latch back on due to another baby but they seem to then be breastfeeding until the kids are 8.

I've actually heard of a woman adopting a 3-year-old child from China or somewhere, and she started breastfeeding her. Some people may think it's sick or weird, but I don't. I nursed my son until he was almost 2 years old; and my SIL nursed her son until he was about 2&1/2.

My older son one time looked like he wanted to nurse, when I was nursing my younger son (although it had been probably 7-9 months at that point, since he had last nursed), but I just kinda ignored him and he never asked again. If he had, though, I was willing to start nursing him again.

A friend of mine started nursing her older baby again, after her younger baby was born. The baby had an infection and had to be in the hospital for several days, and the mom of course went with him; when she got home, the daughter basically ignored her and wouldn't have anything to do with her, until she let her start nursing again, and that healed their relationship.

But I bet he's just feeling a bit displaced, and wants the reassurance that he's not being *replaced*, and being "left out"; and if you show him that he's not being kicked out, that he won't even want to nurse. He's needing the assurance, not the boobie. :-)

maybe you should not breastfeed in front of the two year old. If he doesn't see it, then it won't be a problem. As far as the husband suggesting you let him try it; I don't think that's a really good idea - I agree with you, it seems kind of "off" just a bit. He'll be fine. Two year olds have a mind of their own and hopefully you can interest him in other things like a toy or a new video and take his mind off the breastfeeding.

I to breastfeed all 3 of my sons. When my middle son was 2 I became pregnant with the youngest. When the milk started to changed he pretty much gave up the breast. Every once in a while he would try again and decide it was still YUCK! After the baby was born he wanted to try again. I let him. He still said YUCK!- The baby was only 2 days old. He did try a few more times when the baby was older but would just do it for a few minutes then decide that he would rather play.Good Luck

Hey E.,

My daughter was almost 3 when my son was born. She also wanted to breastfeed at that point. I did allow her to try it and as your hubby says...once she tried it and knew that it wasn't a big deal or she wasn't being left out, she was fine..She didn't ask again. I hope this helps. Good luck..B. B

awwww. the little guy is jealous of the bonding time I bet. not so much the breast. He sees you spending one on one time with the baby who is already the center of attention everywhere else he goes. I bet he just needs some mommy time. Maybe when he gets upset and says that he wants to breast feed, you can try telling him that you need to feed the baby right now, but after she's finished, you and he can sit down and have a snack or play a game or whatever he's into.

I bet he just misses being the baby :) I know i did! :) my parents still tell stories of me trying to boot my sisters off my parents laps when they were feedign them. :)

I was so scared of the happening when we had #2. My oldest breastfed until he was 1yr. I'd heard many people and books recommend letting the older kid try, but also had the feeling you do of it just being wrong. Thankfully my older son never asked to try although I think he thought about it. When I nursed the baby he would come and sit mby me at first and was very interested in watching. As much as it made me uncomfortable about having his face right there staring I figured it was better to satisfy his curiousilty at this point than denying it and having him ask to try it. I told him from the beginning that "Mommy's Milk" was something I made just for the baby because babies couldn't eat anything else, like big boys who could have all sorts of things, then naming his favorites.I let him snuggle with us while I nursed the baby and sometimes could get him to bring a book. I could read to him while the baby nursed. After a while he quit wanting to sit with us all the time. He did want me told hold and carry him more and had a long spell of pretending that his sippy cup was a bottle and he was a baby. He'd want me to hold him and feed him his "bottle". Sometimes I would indulge this, recognizing that he really just wanted to be close to me. I try to give him extra hugs, cuddles, and kisses as well as giving him extra play time when the baby's sleeping. The baby's 10 mths now and the oldest has given up and the "bottle" game and spending special time with him is much easier. You'll get there.
If your son insists on trying the breast maybe you could offer him a bottle instead since you're not comfortable with letting him try to nurse. However this may encourage him. That's why I was always very firm about mommy and bottles being for baby and sippy cups and big boy cups being for big boys. Good Luck!

My friend told me that this happened to her; here is what worked for her. Rather than putting him to the breast, put a bit of formula (if you have some on hand) in a bottle and tell him that he can try what the baby is drinking. Chances are, he will drink it from the bottle and say, "yuck, that is disgusting." It worked for her and he showed no more interest in drinking from the breast. I would have the same fear you do of "what if he likes it" about putting him on the breast - I don't see anything wrong with trying, but I feel you, what if he likes it, then it will just be harder?! I hope what worked for my friend will work for you. She used formula because she had a bottle of it right there, it just kind of happened in the moment, but if I were to do it, I would use formula because I bet that breast milk tastes better and the idea is you don't want him to like it. I've never tried mine so I wouldn't know, but that is just my guess. :)

I am so sorry you are having to go through this. I have never dealt with it, but I think you are on the right track not letting the older one have even a taste. I guess you just need to keep explaining that "Little babies drink mommy milk and big kids drink out of their sippy cups." GOOD LUCK!

When I had my 3rd child, I had a 2yo son. The doctor asked me if he'd tried to breastfeed and I say NO. He said well, he will and you need to let him most likely he wont like it. I thought 'what if he does'. Well one day I saw him coming, LOL, and thought ok, here it goes. Well he saw how his little sister did it, latched on, got a big drink & then promptly spit it out & said 'yucky Mama' and never did it again. End of mystery, end of curiosity, end of worry.

So I would let him try. He's use to cold milk now and a vastly different taste and most likely he will wont like it.

Best of luck.

My sister had the same thing happen with her 2-year-old son. The pediatrician told her to let him try breastfeeding as he kept asking and would start to act out. She said it made her VERY uncomfortable but after laying there for a minute, he never asked again and didn't have any problems when she was feeding my niece. She said he really didn't seem to know what to do and didn't like that it kept him from moving around.

this too shall pass. make sure you give him special alone time just you and him and talk to him about how big boys get to do fun things like the zoo. good luck

If he hasn't nursed a bottle for several months, he probably won't even still have the natural 'suckling' instinct that would make it 'profitable' to nurse the breast. Just say a prayer BEFORE you let him nurse that he'll not find it enjoyable! LOL

Good luck! I didn't look, but I'm sure you've gotten lots of interesting advice!

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