E.M. asks from Brick, NJ on September 11, 2008
How to Care for Toddler While Baby Nurses
I have a 26-month-old daughter and a 1-month-old son. My daughter was initially very excited about the baby, happy, and cooperative. However, I think the "honeymoon" is over. Over the past few days she has gotten increasingly whiny, clingy, and oppositional. She is having an especially hard time entertaining herself while I nurse the baby. I can't blame her - she's still so young! I am feeling really guilty because as her behavior grows more challenging I grow less patient. I have had issues with PPD in the past and until the past few days I felt like I was in the clear. But now I am starting to feel nervous because I am more moody and the negative self-talk is starting, about how poorly I am treating my daughter. If anyone has two children about two years apart in age, please give me some tips. I am especially curious what you found to entertain your older child while the first nursed (besides Blues Clues, argh!). Your help is appreciated!
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D.R. answers from New York on September 11, 2008
hi E., and congrats! all my kids are around 2 years apart, and all nursed. actually, im nursing right now while my 3 year old is entertaining herself! its harder at 2, i used food a lot, would try to time the feedings around my kids meals or snacks. give her food that takes a while to eat, finger food - a bowl of peas with no spoon, etc.... also, get some new toys/books, craft projects they can do somewhat unsupervised, like color wonder stuff or play doh (if shes not eating it and you dont mind cleaning up after) or aquadoodle. i would do those giant floor puzzles with my son a lot while nursing, he would do it on the floor or coffee table in front of me, and i would help out, pointing. those big melissa and doug puzzles are good for her age. she can put on a puppet show for you, or dress up, or put on some music and let her dance for you if she likes that. it will start to space out more soon, as im sure you know, and she will get more used to it. and dont feel bad, you have given her the great gift of a little brother! even if she doesnt appreciate it so much now, she is just now realizing he is here to stay and its natural for her to be jealous. but as you are able to let her help out with him and also to give her some alone time with you, she will appreciate him more and more. oh... and be sure she has a baby doll of her own with some of the stuff that goes with it so she can take care of her baby too. good luck, D.
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K.Z. answers from New York on September 11, 2008
I don't have two kids, but a number of my friends have had children close in age. They shared your same frustration and angst! Most of them found a way to nurse the baby while s/he was in a wrap or carrier so their hands were free to play with and take care of the older child. They also said they had special "nursing" toys that were only brought out when mommy needed some quiet time to nurse. The toys were put into a basket and kept in a closet away from little hands, and became a treat for the older sibling. I know they also reserved special DVDs (Elmo, Blue's Clues, Calliou) to be used in an emergency.
Congratulations on your new little one!
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M.T. answers from New York on September 12, 2008
While I didn't have this issue myself - my daughter was 4 when her brother was born, more self-sufficient - plus the convenience of nursing left me with a free hand (two when I got good at it) to draw a picture or play a board game while the baby ate ... for a child that young, I'd suggest a basket of special toys and surprises that are ONLY for nursing time to keep her occupied. This is also a good time for a 2 year old to start to learn to entertain herself so I'd limit the t.v.
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S.L. answers from New York on September 12, 2008
Two thoughts: make nursing time "family snuggle time" - nurse lying down and you can all cuddle up together, maybe with a story. AND/OR, get a sling, and nurse your infant in the sling - this you can do while walking, or doing anything really, and that way you can be up and mobile with your daughter at the same time.
A.P. answers from New York on September 12, 2008
I read to my older one while nursing a lot. He loved to pick out special long books (like the ones we never finished before bedtime!) I rotated the toys so he had ones to play with that were forgotten about. Mine are about 3 years apart so the older was more understanding of the time but I also found that once the baby is done nursing and goes to sleep its "me and you time". Works great now to keep him quiet while I get the baby down for naps! Do you have help or family that can take your older one out for big girl dates? After 6 weeks my little one got very efficient at nursing and it was much easier. Hang in there!
K.W. answers from Rochester on September 12, 2008
Hi E., I have a 19 month old and 3 month old, I think the honeymoon is over here too! I use a couple techniques to keep my older son busy while caring for my baby girl. Sometimes I give him a special snack and that gets him into a good mood. Hot chocolate, or fruit snacks. I try not to do this regularly b.c it's not healthy and it loses appeal. I try to rotate toys so he can play with a couple for a few days and once he becomes bored I get out some of the ones he's forgotten about. I don't know if you have a pet, but I got my son to play with the dog finally and that will keep him busy for a while. He never watches tv b/c we don't have cable, just crappy antenna, so I've got to try hard to keep him busy. It's absolutely unbearable when he gets bored! Whining and clingy, then, like you I start with the negative thoughts. I just want to enjoy this time b/c I know it goes by so fast, but sometimes it's a little tough!
I just read a couple responses and wanted to add that I am taking zoloft for ppd. If you think you have it then definetly get something, don't put up with it. If you had it before I'm sure you'll know what to do. I stopped b f my daughter after 10 weeks b/c I did not want her exposed to it. Stopping the b f helped me to get well b/c it allowed me to have help. I can let grandma watch my daughter while I play with my son. Plus I get a little me time (sometimes)
L.N. answers from New York on September 12, 2008
my boys are 15 months apart. what i did was spend extra time with my "older" one while the baby napped and tried to explain to his young self that sometimes mommy plays with joey and sometimes mommy nurses James. Yes Blues clues or Sesame street can be annoying but affective as distractions for nursing times. or perhaps a special toy that is ONLY allowed during nursing Play-doh is ALWAYS a hit around here. Stick with it your "older" baby will eventually get it.
A.H. answers from New York on September 12, 2008
My sister and I are 16 months apart. Although I can't give you advice as a mom (I only have one who is 3 mos.), I can tell you what my mom did with me when I was little. When she nursed my sister, she had a tea party with me or she would tell me to feed my dolls so both "babies" could eat together. She said it made things easier and including me when she had to attend to my sister.