Nursing With Lots of Littles
Setting up a breastfeeding relationship with your new baby is a beautiful and delicate dance of getting to know one another and establishing that bond is imperative to a successful breastfeeding experience. Throwing in other kids to that mix can make breastfeeding seem like you are climbing Mount Everest. Although certain events make nursing slightly difficult, breastfeeding with lots of littles around is quite convenient and has many benefits besides the obvious health ones. I recently nursed my youngest while homeschooling my four other young children, and while doing so, I picked up some lifesaving tricks during this breastfeeding journey.
The key to having nursing baskets as lifesavers is making one for mom and one for the little kids. Mom’s basket needs to have some nursing essentials, such as bottles of water, nipple cream, breast pads, and burp cloths, but don’t forget some fun items too! Think of stashing some edibles like nuts and dried fruit, along with some reading material like a new book or magazine you’ve been trying to read.
Logistically, it would be a nightmare for me to make a nursing basket for each kid, so I stick with one and put cheap toys in it, enough for everyone to share and not cause a fight. I am fortunate to live by a Dollar Store, and although I could live without the cheap plastic, my kids find endless delight in the inexpensive surprises they see in the basket. I’ll stock up, hide the toys, and then refill the baskets as the kids grow bored. Some dollar store favorites are puzzles, cards, matchbox cars, markers and coloring books, yoyos, and flashlights. Never underestimate the power of dress-up items like sunglasses and fairy wings, too. The key here is to keep these baskets out only while you are nursing, so the kids start to associate nursing with fun time. Usually, the baskets’ novelty keeps my kids occupied long enough for me to finish up a nursing session in peace, possibly with that reading material and snack in hand.
When my oldest was a new big brother, I made these for him all the time, as I was so worried he would get jealous of his younger brother nursing. I pulled these out again after we had our fifth baby to keep my preschoolers busy, and I forgot how much fun they are for all ages! I got the idea from Susie at Busy Toddler, and there are so many great ideas to do with your kids. If you have many little kids like me, this is thankfully an inexpensive way to busy them and feel like they are getting some education out of it! Some of our favorite sensory activity bins are hide-the-dinosaurs in kinetic sand, Alphabet scoop and transfers, Rice bins with scoopers, Fancy rainbow rice bins, and sorting bear bins.
Even if you have a fenced-in backyard, it’s nice to be able to get out of the house with your crew. Why fenced-in parks? If you have a toddler, or in our case a super-fast eloper, fenced-in parks are the way to go. They give you peace of mind knowing kids can’t wander anywhere they shouldn’t, especially if you find yourself in a spontaneous nursing session.
Save your sanity and research fenced-in parks near you. Trust me, it’s not very fun having to chase your kid from running into the street while your baby is still latched! If you can’t find any in your neighborhood, check out local elementary schools. Usually, one of these holds special education classes and they have a fence to keep fast kids from eloping.
Getting Bigger Kids Involved
Creating a team-like atmosphere helped my little kids feel like they were helping to feed their baby sister. From fetching mom water to bringing the baby burp cloths, all these actions help kids feel involved with the new baby and like they are part of a team. My younger kids especially love the burping aspect of nursing, and it teaches them how to care for a baby while being able to keep them connected. Sometimes they would even cheer for their sister while she nursed. My seven-year-old has been known to say, “That’s so COOL- she eats FOREVER, mom!”
Letting Things Go
One of the best advice I received from a more experienced nursing mom of many is learning to let things go. In her honest words, “let that sh*t go!”. The kids aren’t going to remember whether the floors were spotless or if the windows had fingerprints on them. What matters most is the bond between one another. If you need to turn on the tv to stop a sibling fight and allow time to sit and nurse your littlest, have no mama guilt, the kids will be ok.
It is possible to have a great breastfeeding relationship with your youngest while also keeping a great relationship with your little big kids. The last thing I learned is to never compare my breastfeeding journey to anyone else’s; we are all on our own path nourishing our babies and parenting our families the best way we know-how.