One of the biggest challenges of having your second baby is dealing with the constant needs of a busy toddler while having a newborn who wants to nurse the entire day. This was honestly something I was not prepared for. It seemed like every time I sat down to nurse the baby, my toddler was thirsty, or hungry, or whining at me.
I started to realize some of it (well, probably most of it) was for attention rather than out of need. Adjusting to a new baby can take some time for the entire family, especially for big brother or sister. Findings ways to entertain your toddler while breastfeeding a newborn is key to avoid those melts downs and will save you a lot of stress.
So what can you do with a baby stuck to your boob other than sitting your toddler in front of the TV? Plenty! Try these tips for keeping your toddler entertained while you breastfeed.
1 – Give Them a Snack
Depending on their age, try giving your toddler a snack to eat while you settle in to nurse your infant. Nothing distracts my kids better than eating. It keeps the “hangry” (hungry + angry = hangry) toddler at bay. My kids are like new creatures after they eat.
I find it best to cut up some fruit, cheese, or veggies and put them on a plate within reach so they can graze while they play. A highchair might work if your child is smaller but I found mine always wanted to get down in the middle of feeding my newborn.
2 – Magnets
Kids LOVE magnets. We have a bunch on the refrigerator that my kids love to play with but they also make boards and books with fun magnet strips and shapes. This would be a great thing to take out when you nurse and let your toddler sit next to you and play together while you feed the baby.
My three-year-old has a dinosaur magnet book and loves it! Great for road trips and for when you are on the go and need something for them to play with that isn’t messy.
3 – Read Books
I don’t know about your kids but mine could literally sit through me reading 10,000 books in a row. Have them pick out a few and read to them while you nurse. This is an activity that never gets old!
You could also consider getting books with CDs or LeapFrog for a more interactive experience.
4 – Sort Colored Macaroni
One fun activity that will keep little hands busy is to give them some colored or different shaped dried macaroni and let them sort them. This article has a great example. They used numbered cups to sort the macaroni but for younger ones, you could put a colored dot on a cup to show them what color to put in it. Another fun thing to do is give them a spoon to pick the macaroni up and put in the cup.
5 – Stickers
Toddlers love stickers. I love them because they work wonders for distracting a toddler. My kids go crazy for stickers and will sit forever peeling them and sticking them on things (hopefully somewhere they should be sticking them).
You can pick up stickers for super cheap at places like the Dollar Store. Or better yet, get some of the books that have reusable stickers.
6 – Color Wonder, Mess-Free Markers
Toddlers and markers do not mix. But coloring is a great way to keep them busy. The solution? Crayola makes a mess-free marker line that won’t mark on skin, fabric, carpet, furniture, walls (see where I’m going…), etc. but WILL mark on the Mess-Free specific paper.
Perfect for toddlers!
7 – Mixing Bowls with a Spoon and Cotton Balls
This is a cheap go-to in my house! Grab some plastic mixing bowls, spoons, measuring cups, etc and add a few handfuls of cotton balls and let your toddler mix, dump, spoon, and measure away. This has kept my toddler busy for quite awhile when I needed to distract him for a long period of time.
8 – Special Nursing Box
This idea was suggested to me by a friend after I had my second baby. Have a special nursing box on hand filled with items for your toddler that you only take out when you are nursing your newborn. Once you are done nursing, put the box away. That keeps the items more special and little ones more interested in what’s in the box when it comes out.
To create one, get a Rubbermaid storage box (size is up to you). I have seen moms decorate the box to make it more special/personalized. Then fill the box with special toys or things to keep your child busy while you nurse. Obviously, you will want to focus on items that fit your child’s age and interests. Some suggestions for the box include:
- Books (electronic books would be cool)
- Games (Gone Fishing game, matching games, etc)
- Cars or trains with a mini track
- Blocks or other building toys
- Coloring books
- Lego sets (Lego Duplo is good for small kids)
- Playdough (if you are that brave…)
- iPad with special games or videos
- Stamps or other crafts
Check out your local dollar store for some fun, small toy ideas. I have found some great stuff not only for a project like my nursing box but also for road trips, airplane rides, and other situations when I needed to distract my kids by giving them a special box or surprise.
Nursing a newborn is time-consuming. It feels like every time you turn around they want more. It is important to let your baby nurse on demand to build a healthy supply but when you have a high energy toddler running around, that can be tough.
Having a plan for your toddler will make your life 100 times easier in the long run. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy and easing some of the stress of entertaining your older child is a great start to giving you the time you need to focus on your new baby.
Have any activities that worked with your toddler while nursing your newborn? Share them with us in the comments below!
About the Author
Heather Grace is a wife and mother to three children. After being laid off from her important, stuffy corporate job, Heather found inspiration in her children to start a new venture and try her hand at being a mompreneur. She loves to write and is inspired daily by her two crazy boys and her newest addition – a little girl. You can find more of her writing about Pumping, Breastfeeding, and all things Mommyhood at thepumpingmommy.com.