27 answers

How to Explain Breastfeeding to 3 Year Old?

I am due with baby #2 in a month, and my son is turning 3 a couple weeks after that. He has a much better understanding of the baby than I expected. When people ask him about the baby, he'll point to my stomach and tell them his baby girl is in there. When we pass the hospital he reminds us that's where we'll go to get the baby out. He also likes to tell everyone how he's gonna help me change her diaper and give her a bottle. The only problem is - I'm planning to breastfeed, and I have no idea how to prepare him for this! I weaned him at 17 months, so I'm pretty sure he doesn't remember it. I don't have any friends who are currently breastfeeding to show him by example. How on earth do I bring this up to him? We've done our best to prepare him for every other part of having a new baby in the house. I don't want this to be a shock to him or cause jealousy.

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So What Happened?™

Thanks for all the great tips! I got several books from the library that talk about new babies, with drawings or photos of moms breastfeeding. He's completely fascinated with it! He's been asking a ton of questions and wanting to look at the books every day. I don't have any photos of when I was nursing him, but he loves to hear about how I used to feed him. I'm SO glad we're working on this now so he has time to get used to the idea.

Featured Answers

Dr. Sears has 2 children's books about pregnancy and babies. I'd get them and start reading them to him.

You could youtube some videos of baby animals eating, and point out that people feed their babies like this too.

More Answers

My friend was nursing her baby when my older son was just turning 3, and I never really wondered about it. When I had him, I was babysitting some girls who were 3 and 4 years old and they were really curious, so I just told them that was how mommies feed their babies. Since my husband gave bottles when I was at work, I imagine my older son will know that his baby brother (when this one is born) will get bottles from daddy because only mommies can feed babies that way, but kids are pretty accepting. When I would nurse my oldest and the girls I was watching would ask, we would end up on these long tangents of "cats feed their babies, horses feed their babies, lions feed their babies, dogs feed their babies," etc. If he asks, tell him that is how babies are fed.

2 moms found this helpful

I would just tell him you will be breastfeeding and how it happens. I will warm you though, its not easy adjusting to two kids, so your not always going to be able to be discreet about the breastfeeding, you will have to do it all in front of him. My daugther would just sit there and stare. I said "will you stop staring at me please" My daughter "Nah". Ugh, especially when I pumped, that was SUPER fasinating to her. She wouldnt go away!! So, thats pretty much how they learn, and evetually, it will just be normal to them. Baby eats from moms boobs! lol

2 moms found this helpful

I never talked about it with my son; I guess I forgot to mention it! We talked about everything else, like you have, but how the baby eats wasn't brought up. Things were so new when we brought the baby home, nursing was just part of the baby's life. He didn't even seem to notice for the first few days, and then when he asked questions, I answered as simply as I could. My baby's almost a year old now, and my older son and I have had many discussions about nursing, breasts, nipples, etc. All of these things were brought up by him, and while I didn't want to ignore his questions, when we're talking about it, I always hope he won't bring up his new knowledge with other people!

2 moms found this helpful

Sounds like he can probably handle straight-up answers and those are always best anyway. It's taken my son a while to understand that only mommies make milk - he's tried to drink from his own nipple from time to time. Showing him other animals that nurse was another idea I had for you I already see suggested.
One other thing, our pediatrician did suggest laying the baby down from time to time and specifically telling her, "I am going to play with your big brother now, he needs me" so he can hear you say that to the baby and see that he's just as important.
Best wishes!

2 moms found this helpful

just keep it simple and casual. this is how lots of babies eat, you ate mamas milk too, its so good for you. he will get used to it in no time. dont be surprised if you walk in on him trying to breastfeed some of his teddy bears :) good luck

2 moms found this helpful

I have a 6 week old and a 4 year old. I didn't say anything to him about it. I just waited for him to ask. When he did, I explained I was giving the baby special milk only for little babies, and that he did the same thing when he was a little baby. That was enough of an answer for him. He never asked again and went about his business when I was in a room breastfeeding like it was no big deal. Just do your thing and answer his questions briefly and to the point. You might be surprised at how naturally he takes it.

1 mom found this helpful

go to youtube and find Maria breastfeeding on Sesame Street!

1 mom found this helpful

Do you have any pictures of him nursing??? If so, show it to him. I have pics of me nursing my kids as babies.
Don't act like its something like a big deal... just something matter of fact... that is how Mommies feed a baby etc.

I would also maybe, get HIM a doll... (they have many for boys) and a toy baby bottle or something, so he can also "help" you... and have his own 'baby' to 'take care' of.

I would ALSO explain to him, what a baby does... that it wakes, it cries at all hours, that you need to feed her... etc. My daughter was 3.5 when I had my 2nd child... and I clearly explained to her, what a baby does and is. Otherwise, the oldest child may be in for a jolt.
I ALSO explained to my daughter, that she is NOT "responsible" for her baby brother... that MOMMY will wake and feed her brother and she does not have to "worry." My daughter, was the type that was very caring and would tell me of ANYTHING her baby brother was doing... and if he was crying, she'd get a bit worried....and she felt 'responsible' somehow, for her baby brother. So I had to EXPLAIN to her, AHEAD of time, what a baby "does." I would also, suggest doing that... BEFORE your baby daughter comes home...

all the best,

1 mom found this helpful

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