Explaining Breastfeeding to My 4 Year Old Son

Updated on January 23, 2009
C.J. asks from Satsuma, AL
23 answers

Hi Ladies...You are always full of great suggestions, so I was hoping for a little advice or some suggestions. I'm due any day now with my twin girls. I plan to breastfeed them, just like I did my son. Although, while I've told my son they'll have Mommy's special milk (as opposed to his milk that comes from the gallon jug in the frig), I haven't told him any more than that. Is this something I should try to prepare him for or just let him witness? I mean, with twins I'll be breastfeeding A LOT, especially during the first few months, etc. Just looking for any suggestions on how you prepared your older children for this. We've discussed a lot of other aspects of having new babies in the house, etc...just not this one. Thanks in advance!!

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answers from Montgomery on

I did not explain to my son when his brother was born. He was 3 at the time. I just did it. When he did ask, I told him that is how babies eat. I then told he had eaten the same way when he was a baby and that was explanation enough.

He did ask once if he could have some, I had to tell him he was a big boy and big boys drink out of a cup.



answers from Little Rock on

I didn't dscuss it in advance just did it. with my second the first asked question and I explained ( and had to prove) that milk was coming out and the baby was eating. When I had the thrid my son very proudly explaine dit to his sister and then lamented when he found out his boobies would mak emilk for his babies when he's bigger. Kids are pretty accepting of things like this. Mine just assume all babies eat that way/

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answers from Tulsa on


With my older two I didn't do much explaing because they were pretty young when their siblings were born. When they did get curious I just told them I was nursing their sister or brother like I nursed them. They'd shrug ok and go on. The "baby" will be three in less than a month and is still nursing so my oldest, an eight-year old boy, has grown up seeing lots of boobs. In our house it's just the way it is, the way they expect babies to be fed.




answers from Baton Rouge on

I wouldn't worry about explaining beforehand either. When he sees you nursing the baby, he may or may not be curious as to what you're doing, If/when he asks, just tell him that just like a mommy's body provides a special place for babies to grow until they're big enough to be born, a mommy's body also makes special milk for babies until they're old enough to eat big people food like he does, and that your body made this special milk for him when he was a baby too, until he was old enough to eat big people food.
If he sees it as just another part of taking care of the baby, it won't be any big deal for him.
I love the idea of letting him cuddle with you while you nurse if you can work out the logistics.



answers from Lawton on

Breastfeeding is a natural thing, I never have explained to my children (4 of them) other than what they saw or asked. I answer them truthfully and tell them they all had thier time to drink mommies specail milk that had so many good things in it they grew super fast. Then they got so big I had to switch them over to cows milk that every one drinks. i have to be honest I am pretty careless as well. I rarely cover up to nurse unless company is in the house,lol. My son is 4 now and he remembers nursing as well as my 2 year old so to them it is a fond memory. I wouldtn worry too much about it if he has questions you know he will ask,lol.

BTW I had to chuckle at barbara's response below that was very cute. I remember when my 2 year old was a infant I saw my then 3 year old son close his eyes and pretend to nurse. It kind of made me sad becasue i have always thought i weaned him too soon he was always sitting on top of my lap as well.


answers from Little Rock on

I have a 4 1/2 year old girl and just stopped nursing my 16 month old in November. I never told her anything about what I was going to do, but did explain to her that our baby wasn't going to have a bottle because I was going to breastfeed. I didn't try to cover up around her or anything. I just wanted her to know how natural and wonderful it is for the baby. I did have one experience when she almost latched on herself and I paniced a little bit, but other then that it was fine. She would even walk around the house nursing her baby dolls. Congratulations on your twins!!



answers from Mobile on

My daughter was 4 when my son was born. I told her nothing about what to expect and I made no issue of it to her. My advice, make no issue of it. Act as if it as common as changing a diaper or giving a bath, just what you do. When he shows interest answer his questions and let him know how special it is and let him be a part of it.

When she asked "What are doing Mommy?", I told her, "This is how Mommy's feed their babies." Or "he is having Mommy's milk"

Her questions were just as natural and easy as any other kid question...it was never something she thought was odd or that concerned her. It was just natural, healthy curiosity.

My friend made a big deal of it with her kids. She went to another room...said "mommy needs privacy" etc. Her children were more distressed by her nursing and quite disruptive. They felt excluded. I let my daughter snuggle right up and watch and she always "ooo'd and aaah'd" and thought it was so sweet.

My daughter loved hearing that she was fed just the same way.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I would just let him witness it. When my son was this age and was observing my daughter nurse, he wanted a sip. I didn't warn him that the miik was warm and he took one sip and thought it was awful and never asked again! I was glad I didn't warn him, because I wouldn't have wanted him asking to nurse also. I did use a big recliner to nurse and he would often bring in books and I would read to him while I nursed. It was a sweet time. Enjoy your 3 children. They will grow up way too fast!



answers from Texarkana on

its easy thats one of the reasons that GOD made you that way is to breastfeed babies that you breastfed him and now you are going to breastfeed the twins it is better for them good luck



answers from Mobile on

Congratulations on your coming twins. I must admit I am a bit envious. Despite the extra work it poses, I have always been enamored with the idea of twins. Good luck!

I agree with most of the advice you have already received. We prepared our nearly 3 year old daughter for everything about the coming of her baby brother, except for breastfeeding. When she witnessed it for the first time, she asked questions and I responded with the answers. Her brother is now seven weeks old and breastfeeding definitely presents some interesting aspects of childrearing. Sometimes my daughter does get jealous while I breastfeed (mainly when she is tired), but other times she is perfectly content to snuggle with me or have me read books to her while I nurse the baby or do her own thing completely. Also, she has never asked to try her hand at nursing again, but my mom says I asked to nurse again when my little brother was born 25 years ago. (And luckily my toddler taste buds did not approve.) Instead my daughter often "nurses" her baby doll while I am breastfeeding. I mentioned it to my doctor this morning at my post-natal check-up when he asked how she was doing with the role of big sister and he laughed and said his son did the same thing when his wife nursed their second baby. So ultimately, I think breastfeeding, being the most natural thing there is, will work for everybody in the family without a problem and usually with funny moments to go along with it!



answers from Fayetteville on

i just explained to my son, who turned 3 in November, that baby bubba's belly isn't as grown up as his, so mommy is feeding him special milk that will let him grow up big and strong like him so they can play together. There are some interesting things that happen with older siblings witnessing breastfeeding, for example, we were at the mall with my best friend, and she was trying on clothes in the dressing room needing opinions on which was best, so we were outside her door, and I decided to go ahead and feed the baby. Well, there were two women in the rooms beside my friend, and as i start feeding James (mind you, he is a very vigorous eater) my oldest looks at me and says "Jamesy really loves that boobie, huh mom!" I had no idea what to say, but yeah, he likes to eat just as much as everyone else...lol I could hear giggling out of all three doors of the dressing rooms.



answers from Fort Smith on

You should definitely prepare him ahead of time. You might say something like "Mommy's body makes special milk that is just for babies. It is the same way I fed you when you were a baby." I remember the story of my mother walking in on her mother feeding her baby brother. She ran out yelling "Daddy, Daddy, come quick the baby is eating mommy up." Babies can be loud and make gulping sounds that can be scary for an unprepared sibling. Good luck.



answers from New Orleans on

I would just explain it as matter of fact. It is so natural your 4 year old will just see it as the way mothers feed their babies. Good luck. I successfully breast fed my twin boys. There is a big pillow I bought (bigger than a boppy, more square that was helpful in the beginning.) I ended up having to supplement with them with formula as well. They went from bottle to breast and back again with ease. I nursed them at the same time, with one kind of lying on top of the other feet going in the same direction.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I would explain the whole deal to him.

I have a funny story about explaining to my niece that her brother would be breastfeeding. I had told her that when her baby brother was born, he would drink milk out of her mommy's breasts instead of out of a bottle - just like baby animals. She listened intently and nodded at the appropriate places and I thought we were prepared. When we got to the hospital, I found that the terminology they use in their home is not the same as we use. She looked at her just-born baby brother who was nursing, broke out with a huge grin on her face, and loudly exclaimed, "My baby brother is sucking on my mom's BOOB!!!"

Congratulations on your twins!!!



answers from Hattiesburg on

I wasn't sure how to explain it to my 6 yr old step-daughter, but she has puppies and has seen them drink milk. I related it to puppies and other animals. Telling her God makes mommies have special milk just for babies. Good luck and God Bless!



answers from Tulsa on

If he is interested in animals you could always put that spin on it. Explaining you will nurse your babies just like mommy cows or mommy cats or dogs do, or whatever animal he is interested in (mammal of course).

Keeping it low-key is best. If you seem uncomfortable about it around him, he will pick up on that and be uncomfortable too. If it's presented to him in a "no big deal" kind of way then he'll respond in kind.

Congratulations and good for you for breastfeeding twins!!!



answers from Oklahoma City on

Congratulations! When my now 4 year old girl twins were born, my oldest girl was 4 and my boy was 2 1/2. I didn't make a big deal about breastfeeding, just answered their questions in a matter of fact way. After some curiosity it became old news.
By the way did you get a twin nursing pillow? I don't think I could have survived without mine. I actually bought two different kinds and the one that worked the best was the Basic comfort pillow. It's flat on top, the other was slanted and the babies rolled toward me so much it was hard to position them, and it had a strap that went around my back that buckled. That really helped so if I moved around the pillow didn't scoot away. The other pillow would do that and the babies would slide off of it and we would have to repostion everyone and no one was happy! Anyway, that was some unsolicited advice, just wanted to share my experience :) Also take any offered help and it does get easier!
Good luck and blessings to your family!



answers from Shreveport on

Hi C.,

My son is four years older than my daughter and I breastfeed them both as well. He was so curious about everything to do with the new baby, just like your son.

When he asked this question, I explained to him that God has provided the perfect food for each of His creation. And that just like puppies and kittens (that he had seen nurse) that God had provided for babies as well.

I explained that breastmilk was perfect for their little belly and that it had lots of good things in it that helped babies grow big and strong, just like he had. :-)

But it was only for babies and that God prepared babies for big boy food when babies start to get teeth. Through our discussion, my son realized that I was going to be doing for his new sister just what I had done for him.

As curious as my son was about the new baby, he also needed a lot of assurance that his place was secure in our hearts.

We tried to include him as much as possible in the daily routine of taking care of his new baby sister. We also made sure that we set aside special time just the two of us, so that it wasn't such a hard adjustment for the little guy, who until his sister showed up - had our full undivided attention.

During this time, one of my dear friends gave us a baby shower and along with the new gifts for the baby, several of the ladies provided small gifts for my son. I had never heard of this before, but since then have included a small separate gift for new siblings when I've given a baby gift.

The new brother or sister think this is so cool! Everyone is so excited about the new baby that new brothers and sisters sometimes get shoved into the shadows.

God bless you and your family. Twins and a four year old. Wow, that's a blessing in itself.

Hope that helped.



answers from Baton Rouge on

My son was 3 1/2 when my daughter was born. I never even got around to explaining breast feeding before she was born and when we got her home, I fed her without any explanation. He sort of looked at first and I told him this was I how fed him when he was a baby. He really doesn't care and hardly seems to notice. If he and Dad are being rowdy, I take her into another room (she's 7 months old now) so she can focus; otherwise she gets caught up in the action. But I also frequently shower with my son, so he's seen my naked body many times and it's all totally normal to him. He sees us feed many times a day and couldn't care less. And he likes to cuddle up next to us for the first feeding in the morning. It's nice to sit with the two of them quietly on the couch in the morning until we all wake up a little bit more.

Good luck on feeding the twins!



answers from Oklahoma City on

just tell him. they are less squeamish about things than we think. Dr Sears has some great kids books about babies being born, and all depict Breastfeeding (in drawings) they are Baby on the Way,and What Baby Needs (also a potty and nutrition one) you might also check out some of the Breastfeeding books for kids on mothering.com and attachmentscatalog.com. both have great ideas for books that talk about and depict breastfeeding. (i look for the titles in the library!)

do you have any photos of him nursing? maybe a friend who is nursing who would let him watch? my neighbor brought her son over when he was about 7 to let him see how it worked, and i didn't care at all. maybe you could go to a la leche league for a meeting. there is always someone nursing there for him to see! depending on when you weaned him he may remember it. my five year old has very strong memories of nursing, and my three year old has some too.

yay breastfeeding!



answers from Fayetteville on

Hi C.,
I had a 3 yr. old son when I had my daughter. I had breastfed both of them. I sat my son down and explained that when mommy's have babies in their belly's, we make milk in our boobies to feed the babies. He was very interested. At first he had a look of disgust on his face, but I was very open with him and explained that I fed him the same way when he was a baby and thats how little babies eat. When she came along, he wanted to watch me feed her (he was amazed). I had to pump my milk to store up for when I went to work. He watched how that worked and that was cool because he could actually see that there really was milk in there. He had asked what it tasted like, so I poured a little in a cup and let him taste it.. he thought it was nasty b/c it was sweet and warm. But after that he thought that all girls had milk in their boobies, I had to explain that part again. I also explained that was why women have boobies and men don't.. He actully tried to use my breast pump himself which was hillarious! After our talks, it didn't bother him one bit, he knew how mommy fed his baby sister and that was normal to him. He was even protective as if someone came to our house while I was feeding, he would say "mommy someones here, cover up"--(my daughter hated her head covered while feeding). Hope this helps! Good luck!



answers from Lake Charles on

Congratulations on your twins!! But more importantly I want to commend the effort in trying to breastfeed them. My friend breastfeed her twin girls solely for 9 months. Congratulations again and let us know how it goes!!

I told my 3 year old that God made mommy's milk special. Letting her know that that was how I fed her helped also.



answers from Oklahoma City on

If you take the lead in being very calm and "this is very natural" attitude, he will follow. He is likely to be VERY interested at first (just as he will be about everything to do with the babies at first). He may want to climb right up on your lap and get a good look at what is going on. If you are comfortable with that, let him. The fascination will soon fade. If you are not comfortable with that, explain that this is mommy and babies private time. (my personal advise - with twins, you probably should become very comfortable with others seeing you nurse, as much of your days will initially be spent that way).

You may also explain that all animals feed their babies this way. Show him pictures of cows, dogs, etc.. giving "mommy milk" to thier babies. DO NOT be alarmed if he nurses his dolls. He IS NOT ruined for life - just mimic his mother. He will figure out all the differences between boys and girls in time.

As you will be nursing alot, start thinking of lots of special activities that he can do on his own. "big boy" activities, so that you can set him up with something to occupy him when you sit down to nurse. You don't want TV to be your only option, so perhaps a leap pad educational gamees, play doh, construction paper to cut and paste (glue stick), water color paints.


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