Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Art of Juggling a nursing baby and a toddler/preschooler

A while back someone asked me how to keep their first child busy when their new baby is figuring out the whole nursing thing.  Newborn nursing babies tend to take a loooong time to nurse.  It can almost feel like that is all you are doing those first weeks.  If you are on your second kiddo then most likely you will have another little miracle demanding your attention.  It can really be overwhelming.  Here are my ideas on how to juggle the two little ones...

First,  be prepared.  Have what you need for the nursing baby nearby.  Your notebook, if you keep track of things, a burp rag, diaper, telephone, whatever it is that you need.  I usually had a bin or something sitting where I was comfortable nursing.  With my first I would go up to the peaceful and glorious nursery and just melt in the new baby environment.  With my second and third I had a station set up in both busy living spaces.  There wasn't time to sit, during the day, in the quiet calm of the baby nursery. 

Once you are prepared for your teeny wee one.  Next, prepare for your other child.  My mom was such a help.  She brought a grocery bag full of small lunch bags filled with little treasures and things for the boys to open.  I would grab one when things were getting dicey.  The dollar store, dollar bin area at Target, garage sales, things that had been put away or the kids had forgotten about...anything.  My mom did this for Charley when Henry was born and for Henry when Sydney was born.  It was such a gift.  I used these when I nursed and when baby was crying and I needed to bounce, or pace, or snuggle and Charley or Henry needed attention. 

Another way I prepared for the long nursing sessions with another child who needed entertaining was by preparing some snacks in zip baggies so that they could go grab one at that time.

I also kept a bin of books near my nursing spot so that I could read to them while I nursed.

Sitting and nursing in front of a cartoon was also something special.  Rarely do I sit and watch a cartoon with my kids.  But when we snuggled on the couch to watch we could talk about the show and it was special.

Speaking of TV...I had many friends reassure me that this was one chunk of time in my child's life and that a little more TV would not hurt them. So instead of watching TV when I prepared dinner...I used the TV time for nursing times.  I let go of feeling guilty for a few weeks.  At least I tried. 

I gave my nephew a mailbox for Christmas with the plan that my sister could utilize the mailbox during those first couple weeks.  She could put a snack or a new little matchbox car in there for Eli.  He could hunt for the key first and then open the mailbox.  Or he could get a treasure map in the mailbox that tells him where his snack is hiding. 

Also, don't forget about the library.  It is important to give your older children some time with just you.  If you can escape with them to the library for a quick outing, pick some books, maybe a new video or game...and then put those things in a box that you can enjoy during those times when you need something new.

You can also plan out some bigger bins that have a few "new to them" toys or games that they can play with just when you are nursing or helping baby. 

I think the main thing is to survive.  With baby number two you will find that you don't feel as panicked about feeding baby the moment baby squawks.  You know a little fussing is okay.  And saying, "baby, you need to wait.  I am helping your big brother for a minute."can be really powerful.  This allows big brother or sister to know that you are choosing them over baby...which isn't true - but to your child who had your full attention for so long - knowing that you are still giving them your attention first every once in a while is so powerful. 

I am sure some of you have some great ideas too.  Please share your ideas.  I have many friends who are pregnant or just had babies.  Let's help them out. 


shellycoulter said...

I totally agree with "talking" to the baby and telling them to wait. Just building this into routine talk I think is really important...because you are inevitably going to tell the older child to wait about a million times. Somebody told me that when I was pregnant and I saw the power of that the first time I used it. And I really think it helped SO MUCH. My oldest would even go up to the baby and say it to him. I usually said it at times when the baby didn't even really need anything...but, yes! I can't recommend that strategy enough! Being prepared is HUGE too. I would often nurse at the kitchen table while Eli was eating his breakfast. Or sit on my older kiddos bed so he could just play with things in his room and I could talk to him while I nursed.

Oh...all this baby talk is taking my mind to places (baby fever) that it doesn't need to go to right now! Haha! :)

Anonymous said...

After chatting about this the other day...I downloaded some learning games on my Kindle and we've been playing those while I nurse.


Theresa said...

Okay, I think this is making me a little MORE nervous! Obviously I won't be breastfeeding, but I can say that no matter how you feed a newborn it takes a lot of time and pretty much immobilizes you. It's easy to forget how much time it really takes up in the beginning! I'm hoping that since Simon will be 4+ and already plays well by himself we'll be okay. That's what I tell myself at least :) Thanks for the tips! Eeek.

Barb said...

Thanks for the reminder of the bag full of wrapped goodies from Grandma!

Anonymous said...

I am in this stage right now! I already have a few stories too and the baby is only 1 month old. When I was nursing James, Amber was going potty and Evelyn followed her and I heard laughing and went to check on them and found Evelyn with 2 hairbrushes scrubbing the toilet! Another time I was nursing and the girls were eating lunch and getting mashed potatoes everywhere. Usually it goes well, I try to keep them entertained with toys or TV while I nurse. Jamie Trampe

Danifred said...

I JUST created some "busy bags" today in preparation for the arrival of the baby. I probably won't get around to the post until Monday though.


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