29 answers

Mother of Newborn & 18 Month Old and Breastfeeding

My sister-in-law just had a baby last week and she also has another little one who is 18 months. She is breastfeeding the new baby and he is feeding every 2 hours which takes about 40 minutes. Her 18 month old is having a hard time adjusting to her feeding the baby. He wants to be held and wants her attention. She feels guilty not being there for him and then puts the baby down and then feels guilty because the baby then starts crying cause he's hungry. I also have 2 close in age (16 months)but didn't have this issue because I bottled fed and was able to have my oldest take part in the feedings. Do any of you have any advise on how she would handle this?

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Good advice here already! Why not get the boy a baby doll and let him pretend with it. My son was 2 1/2 when my daughter was born and we got him a baby doll. (My husband did not mind in fact, he showed my son how to put the little baby doll diaper on and what to do for a diaper change - it was cute!) My son didn't play with the doll all that much but if he was acting as though he needed attention while I was feeding my daughter, I would remind him his baby doll might be hungry too and maybe he should feed the baby, and eh would come sit in his little rocking chair next to me and viola! Happiness! I would also let him "read" to her & I while I fed her, or sing to her - he loved being a part of it all.

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I recently had this problem. I have two girls who are just 18 months apart and I breastfed. I always fed sitting in my bed so my oldest could sit up there with me. I also always got prepared before I started feeding. I would turn on a movie for her and get a stack of books or puzzles for us to work on while I was breastfeeding. Also, my daughter was very interested in "helping" so she would "help" me burp her baby sister and wipe her mouth. It made it easier when she thought she was helping Mommy, it made her more a part of it. I also would put my free arm around her if she was just watching her movie so that she could still snuggle close too. Oh, this might not work because I have a daughter and I don't know how they would feel about this since they have a boy but we got my daugther a baby doll and sometimes we would get that and she would "feed" her baby too. Tell her to hang in there...it will get better and easier!

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I would nurse my baby and snuggle my other child very close and read to him while the baby nursed. It worked wonders!

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Hi J.,

How nice of you to be concerned !

Please tell your sister-in-law to get in touch with La Leche League. She can attend local meetings if there is a group nearby or look at their website or talk to a leader by phone. Their phone number is 1-800-LALECHE. If she calls she will receive phone numbers of leaders in her area. Beleive me, MANY breastfeeding moms have had this issue!

Since her baby is still very small, once they get into the swing of nursing she will be able to hold the baby while nursing and put her other arm around big brother. (at least sometimes!) She can talk or sing with him while nursing, maybe even read a book if he holds it. Maybe have a toy he can play with only during nursing times?

Eventually baby will not nurse so frequently or so long at a time.

He can still participate in feedings. If Mom uses a burp cloth for the baby, big brother can hand it to her. Many nursing moms get thirsty (and it is important to keep hydrated to keep up milk supply) so sometimes they have a glass of water nearby to sip on while they nurse. He can hand it to her. (Yeah, maybe she could have it in a sippy cup if spills are a possibility--I bet big brother would get a kick out of that!) If baby kicks off booties, big brother can pick them up. He can tuck a blanket around baby's legs if baby might be cold.

This is a good opportunity for "daddy time" with the older one. Then when mom can lay baby down, she can play/cuddle with him. Let the housework slide a little, the kids are more important! and if anyone says "What can I do to help?" by all means TELL THEM! if that means cooking meals, cleaning, taking big brother to the park, watching baby so mom can take big brother on an outing or walk, whatever!

did she nurse the older one? She can remind him that when he was the baby she fed him when he needed it so it's the same with the new baby. I know, he won't necessarily understand that but it can't hurt to try.

This is a big adjustment period for any family regardless of how they feed their baby. It may take a little time but they will manage it.

K. Z.

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I had a 15 month old son & a three year old daughter when our third child was born. The 15 month old still needed a lot of my attention when his brother came along. While I was nursing Isaiah, Gabe would climb up in the chair & set next to me. I would read to him while nursing the baby, or sing to him, or just set & talk to him. Sometimes he would get a baby doll & a bottle & feed his doll while I fed his brother. Occasionally, he would nurse his doll.

There have been times when all my kids needed attention when I was nursing a new baby, but I always explained that they were the big brother/sister now & the new baby needed mommy at that time. Yes, there were squabbles & tears occasionally, but eventually they learned that baby can't feed herself.

My kids were all very interested in the breast feeding process. They wanted to be right on top of me watching what was happening. Helping out. Getting the burp cloth. Bringing baby a blanket. Singing to baby.

She could put together a bag or box of stuff to keep next to the chair she nurses in full of things to occupy big brother while she's busy. Only get the stuff out when baby is eating.

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My kids are 21 months apart and I had the same issues. A sling is a lifesaver. If $$ are a problem, she can make her own out of a piece of cloth with no sewing. My favorite babywearing site is mamatoto.org It has instructions and VIDEOS about babywearing. She can nurse the infant in the sling while playing with the older tot. It does take some practice to get the infant in and out of the sling comfortably and to get used to nursing hands-free, but it is worth it. She can practice while the baby is happy, rather than while s/he is hungry and impatient.

The other thing I would suggest is to attend a La Leche League meeting. There is no membership requirement. There will be plenty of supportive advice there.

Best of luck to your sister in law.

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Good advice here already! Why not get the boy a baby doll and let him pretend with it. My son was 2 1/2 when my daughter was born and we got him a baby doll. (My husband did not mind in fact, he showed my son how to put the little baby doll diaper on and what to do for a diaper change - it was cute!) My son didn't play with the doll all that much but if he was acting as though he needed attention while I was feeding my daughter, I would remind him his baby doll might be hungry too and maybe he should feed the baby, and eh would come sit in his little rocking chair next to me and viola! Happiness! I would also let him "read" to her & I while I fed her, or sing to her - he loved being a part of it all.

1 mom found this helpful

I have two girls, 3 and 5, and a little boy, 2 and 1/2 months old, and am also currently breastfeeding (and breastfed both the girls). I always sit on the couch while I am breastfeeding, so the girls can come up and sit next to me/cuddle while I am feeding the baby if they want to. The younger one often does. Sometimes she even brings her books up on the couch so I can read to her while I am feeding the baby. This has helped her adjust to the new baby and feel that she is not only still getting mommy's attention, but is also helping with the baby's feedings. In the early weeks when the baby was feeding frequently, if my husband was available, I often gave the baby to him to burp and hold after he finished feeding so I could then spend some one-on-one time with the girls.

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Maybe she should try reading to him while she's feeding the baby. Find a comfy place to sit together and let him pick the book. If reading is not for them grab some crayons and coloring book and color together. Also a change communication about feeding the baby would help. Instead of sayng "I have to feed the baby now" why not try saying "Please sit with me while I feed the baby and we can read her/him a story, draw pictures, sing a song, etc." He just needs to feel a part of the whole process to still feel secure with the new changes in his life.

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You have already received some good advice that I agree with. I especially want to emphasize that this is something that will take a little time adjusting to and that there will always be some rivalry between siblings in some form or another for mom's attention, so its best to simply accept that and move on. Having the older help out with getting things, reading while nursing, etc. are all good ideas. My oldest kept trying to pull his baby sister out of my arms when I was nursing her, but he eventually got over it, and now they are good friends as adults. It's important not to let initial difficulties discourage you as a parent, because parenting is a lifelong process and you can't simply give up! I pray that your sister will soon find a way that works well for her and her children. It's good that she has a concerned sister like yourself who is willing to help her out. God bless!

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My twins were born 25 months after my oldest son, and I used to read to him while I nursed them. I also bought him a baby boy cabbage patch doll (the newborn soft-body kind)before the twins were born. When I nursed the twins, he likes to "nurse" his boy baby! LOL! I didn't plan that, it just happened, but I thought it was hilarious. He's 11 now and hates that story! LOL!

Tell your sister in law to grab a little book and read to and cuddle her little man while she nurses the baby, and she will have awesome memories, too. =)

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She can hold him on the side she's not nursing on! She needs to involve him and have her talk to him about what's happening and how he used to eat when he was a baby. Have him hold the burp cloth until she needs it or get the diapers and wipes ready for after the baby eats.
Tell her good luck and I hope this helps!

i never had this problem myself but i have heard of some mothers having a bag of things to do with the older sibling just while she is nursing the baby things that she can do with him/her.la leche leauge has a mother to mother forum that is wonderful i nurse my LO and go there with anyy and all questions i have they are a great group of women who had DTDT

I think it's great if you read to the older one while feeding the baby. If he doesn;t like this have him do something he likes while you're feeding the baby. It would be a good time for him to have a snack and/or eat his meal while you feed.

It sounds like everyone is on the same page with what works. My 2 boys are 2 years apart and it can be really hard. What works for me: I use a Boppy to nurse so my hands are free to help my oldest if he needs it. He has 3 things he can do during this time - sit with us on the couch and read special book (with a snack if that helps), watch a special video, or play with the toys in a special box that he can only play with during this time. The box is the favorite because i put surprises in there and new toys. My oldest also has a time during the day that he gets me all to himself. Remember if you need to set the baby aside for a minute or two to help the oldest, thats okay - the oldest will remember this, the newborn won't. Good luck. J.

Hi J.: I have a 3 month old who is nursing still (he is supplemented with formula) and a 16 month old they are only 1 yr and 26 days apart. The first week when the baby came home Madison was very upset but as time has gone by she lets me nurse the baby as I need to. I will feed her her dinner on the sofa while I am feeding my son so she is being cared for too. Obviously I get tandem crying jags from the two of them sometimes but I deal with it as it happens. The 18 mo old will be ok as time goes by. It just takes some adjustment. There are times when one of them is not getting all of my attention right away but I have accepted that as reality.

When I was breastfeeding my second 92years, 11 months apart, we used the time for stories, coloring, and other sedentary activities. I would cradle the baby in one arm for nursing and use the other arm to cuddle, color, or hold the book. My son would turn the pages. It worked great, and he actually looked forward to quiet time, as did I.

I had the same situation, however, mine were 21 mnths apart. What I used to do, is have my 21 month old (now 4) get a book or a toy to play with, with my free hand, right beside me on the couch as I breastfed my newborn. It worked! My older child stop fussing about me holding the baby all the time. When the newborn was done nursing, then I put him down and spent time with the other child. I nursed for approximately 7 months and had no problems after I came up with this kind of solution. Good Luck!

Has she tried having the 18 month old sit next to her and reading him a story, or putting in a movie, or putting on a children's television program she can watch and discuss with them while she is feeding the baby? She might try sitting at or by a table and letting the 18 month old build something with blocks and praising the accomplishment, helping him put together a children's puzzle, letting him try his artistic talents with a crayon or large pencil. This might be a good time for her to start teaching him the ABC's, working on his verbal skills, whatever with flash cards, memory games, and other recognication skills. This would make the time spent feeding the new baby a family time together. She is feeding the baby and still spending special time with the 18 month old.
Just a suggestion. Mine were 23 months apart and we did this type of thing so the older one was part of the experience. Movies were easier because she knew when the baby was finished eatting the movie would be put on pause until the next feeding time came along.

I would strongly suggest she get some "special" books and dvd's for when she nurses the infant. Have her oldest child climb up on the couch next to her, letting him snuggle up against her, while he flips thru the books or watches the dvds. And keep those items for only that time. When she knows it's almost time to feed the baby again, she could spend 10-15 minutes of alone time with the oldest, too, so that he's not feeling left out, or right after. Right after would be better, so he doesn't feel like she's shoving him to the side, to be with the infant. I wish her luck in this. My sister-in-law went thru the same thing and she'd have her oldest snuggle up with her, talk to her, etc. while nursing her newborn.

She can still feed the newborn and cuddle the other child. I don't see why the older one can't sit beside mom and baby while she nurses the baby. Also, can the older child help burp the baby? She just needs to be creative and find ways to get the older child involved in care for the new baby.

For your sister-in-law, I would suggest that she introduce "mommy time" during the nursing. My 2 kids are 23 months apart and we struggled with the same problem. I had to have a pile of books that were reserved strictly for nursing time. I put my older one beside me and we would work our way through the books while the baby nursed. I also had a couple of quiet toys that we used only during this time.
It is a challenge but at least it doesn't last forever!

I also have two little ones, born 18 months apart so I can relate to the feelings your sister in law is going through, especially with the breastfeeding. First of all tell her that it will get easier. As every one adjusts, things will start to calm down but in the meantime, here are the things I used to do. When feeding time is coming up, I would get books/puzzles/snack and the remote control and sit down somewhere (either the sofa or the floor) with both my kids and while I was feeding the baby, I could entertain my son with the books, puzzles, cars and if times were tough, the TV and snack. Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn't but for the most part, it was OK. I had to get used to keeping a hand free so that I could help my older boy or just let him cuddle into me while we watched TV. There was alot of jealousy at the beginning but he got used to it. I would always finish feeding the baby first, even if there were tears from my older one but one thing I did learn: if both are crying (and the baby is not hungry or in any pain/danger) attend to the toddler first as they will remember, not the baby!

nursing becomes almost automatic after the first month or so... tell her to hang in there! after a while she can pay more attention to the toddler since the baby will be able to hold it's own head, latch on by itself, while nursing.

a sling and a boppy pillow are two AMAZING inventions that make nursing soooo much easier!

When I had my second baby last April, I found it very difficult to breastfeed him becuase my oldest (2 1/2 at that time) was up and running around and gettting into trouble. I was stressed and I know that my newborn could sense that too because he was not latching on correctly and just struggled with breastfeeding for a few weeks. So..... what I did was each time it was time to nurse, I had my oldest either watch part of a video or show that was on tv at that time or she choose several books and she sat next to me on the couch while I was feeding the newborn. I found that if she sat next to me and we read a book or talked about the show that was on or even played a game, she was happy and not getting into trouble. You may want to give that a try! Good luck!

Mind are 17 months apart and I have had some trouble. My 19 month old nurses morning and night but I was able to drop the after nap feeding soon after my second was born (thanks to so many visitors distracting him!). But, I don't doubt that if I offered every hour he'd pick right back up nursing ALL the time. He does pull at my shirt more often then he used to and get jealous of the baby when he nurses so often. I usually just ask him if he's thirsty and he will say yes and I get him water or milk or juice and it almost always takes care of it. If he's still whiny, I ask him if he wants to cuddle and he'll climb up on the couch with us and give the baby hugs or lay his head on my lap or right on the baby. It's really very cute:)
Tandem nursing can be hard, but it also helps a lot with sibling bonding and jealousy issues. I'm not sure from your request if your SIL is still nursing the toddler or not. But either way, things can be rough for a little while, but it does get easier as the baby starts to get more efficient at nursing so it's faster and there's more time in between. Also, getting a sling so she can "nurse on the run" is helpful.
I have made a real effort to let the older one "play with", hold, and love on the baby. I stay very close and help him be gentle. He seems to really like the baby most the time.

I am in the exact same situation. I too have children 18 months apart and I am breastfeeding the younger one. My little boy was born in January when my older boy was 18 months old. He did well at first because grandma was here but then she left and he started to realize that his little brother was here to stay. The feelings of guilt about not spending as much time with the older child are normal. I felt the same way and still do at times and my little one is now 4 1/2 months old. But one thing that my friend told me is that you spent 18 months with your older child giving him one on one attention and your younger child will never have that. So realize that your older boy will be okay and spend time with him when the little one is napping. Also the older one will learn to play independently which will be beneficial to him.
Remember to enjoy every moment with each child. They are blessings!

If your sister-in-law can hang on, breast-feeding will only require one arm to hold the baby and she can use the other to cuddle her 18 mo-old or hold a book to read to him.
Also, it is good to have a comfy chair in a room with books and toys and a door so that she can be with both, and the toddler cannot get in to anything.
I nursed 6 children in 10 years and that's how I did it.
I had one girl and boy 18 mos apart, and a boy and girl 17 mos apart.
I wish her good luck.

I had difficulty with my newborn and feeding times, too. My baby was fed on demand while I breastfed and also read, cuddled, sang to my then 2 1/2 year old. Your SIL should continue to feed the baby when he wants to, and also spend lots of time with the older child. It's not east to be usurped when you've had mom all to yourself all this time. It can be fun to be an older sib, but right now, he feels jealous and lonely. Try to suggest one on one time with daddy and mommy without the baby, like my husband took our daughter to the library, the park, out to lunch, stuff like that. It doesn't last long and the older one will get used to being a big brother, as long as theres plent of mom and dad to go around.

I personally would try feeding both at the same time. My boys are 15 months apart and they are always trying to get attention. I still try to get them to be closer, so they don't fight or feel left out. I put one on each knee and we sit and watch TV together, sit down and play together and sometimes I've even let them eat both sitting on my lap. That's just motherhood I suppose. The 18 month child is old enough to sit in his own child seat and eat. Maybe she can breastfeed one while the other is in a high chair eatting in front of her.

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