Q: My toddler gets upset whenever I breastfeed our new baby. What can I do?
A: As frustrating as these outbursts may be (nursing can be a demanding task and having a whiny toddler around doesn't help), your first child needs your sensitivity more than ever. Put yourself in her shoes: The concept of patience and sharing are new and difficult for young children to grasp -- especially when they're being asked to relinquish Mommy. Although the reality is you're simply not as available while you're breastfeeding your newborn, there are ways you can help your toddler not feel so rejected:
- Instead of breastfeeding in a chair (which only accommodates you and your baby), nurse on the sofa, in bed, or even on the floor and invite your older child to cuddle up next to you. - Read her favorite books together while you nurse. - Pop in a video to watch with your child. Talk to her about the show so she knows you're truly engaged. - Have her play at your feet while you nurse and chat with her about what she's doing. Interact and engage her as much you can. - Empathize with her unhappiness (sometimes having their feelings understood means more to a child than anything else) and reassure her that the new baby won't always have to eat so often. - Include your toddler in other aspects of baby care so she can develop of small sense of responsibility for the baby. This may help her be more understanding when your newborn needs to nurse. - Plan activities the two of you can do together when the baby's napping so your child has something to look forward to.