How to engage your toddler while breastfeeding your baby? (UPDATED)

A toddler doesn’t understand why the baby has to cry so much. Even more serious, they do not understand why the newborn has to suckle what has been theirs for a long time.

While you are ready for the newborn, the toddler is not ready for the changes about to happen.

For a toddler, it is like someone comes and takes over their space, their love, and most importantly, their breastmilk.

As a parent, you need to prep them for the arrival of the baby. Once the baby arrives, you have to keep the toddler close and keep reminding them why babies need so much attention.

It is more challenging for you as a mother when you have to breastfeed the baby and the toddler in tandem – the toddler might act up.

But do not worry; with a nursing box for toddler and the tips in this guide, you will ace the breastfeeding.

Content:

  1. What can you do to prepare your older child for a new baby?
  2. Should breastfeeding be “hidden” from an older child?
  3. Does nursing a baby can upsetting toddler?
  4. Is acting up a sign of jealousy?
  5. activities for toddler while breastfeeding

Prepping the Toddler for the Arrival of the Newborn

Prepping the Toddler for the Arrival of the Newborn

To ward off feelings of jealousy and teach the toddler that they should love the newborn, you need to prep them many months before the baby arrives.

Prepping them right will make them excited about the baby. They might even help you prepare a room for the baby.

When prepping them, consider the following points:

1. Teach them a Baby’s Anatomy

Newborns look wrinkly and out-of-this-world, not like toddlers see them on diaper packs.

You can help manage the expectations of the toddler by teaching them the anatomy and showing them pictures of toddlers in their first few weeks.

You need to explain the belly button (that the newborn comes with an umbilical cord), the scrunched up legs, the floppy necks, and the soft spots.

If you have pictures of them when they were a few weeks old, it will help to show them and let them understand where they come from.

If you still have some of their outfits when they were little, pull them out to give them an idea of how small babies are.

2. Explain that Babies do Not Eat, they Just Drink

Your toddler needs a reason why they should let someone else take their breast.

You can teach them that for babies to grow, they can only take the special milk that comes from your breasts or from the bottle that you or someone else gives them.

This way, the toddler will not act up when you breastfeed the baby when they are around.

3. Tell them a Baby Doesn’t Know how to say when they need help

To explain why the baby is always crying, the toddler needs to understand that they cannot use words.

Instead, crying is a way to say they are hungry, in pain, feeling hot, cold, sleepy, their diaper is wet, or when they are bored.

You can come up with a list of things that the baby might be crying for using art – draw food, sleep, and all the other things.

This way, the tot will see how hard it is for the newborn and for you.

4. Explain the baby’s sleeping habits

The toddler might not understand why sometimes the baby sleeps a lot and sometimes they only sleep for a few minutes.

Tell them the baby needs to suckle often to help them grow fast and they need to sleep a lot as it helps them use up the food they eat to grow.

When the tot understands the baby’s sleeping habits and why they need to suckle, they will be more patient and cooperative when you breastfeed the baby.

While the baby sleeps, find a few activities to engage the toddler.

5. Explain why the baby has to be held a lot

Your tot needs to understand that you might not hold them on your laps for a long time because the baby has to be held all the time.

Explain the delicate features of the baby such as their arms and legs and why they cannot be left alone.

You can also explain to them that holding the baby makes them cry less.

To make them understand the concept, hold them on your laps and rock them a little and ask them how it feels.

Remind them that you will still be holding them, but less often.

6. Teach the toddler that they will also be responsible for the newborn

By showing them that they are now grownups and can take care of the newborn, your tot will cut you and the baby some slack when you are breastfeeding.

Before the baby arrives, get them to lend you a hand when prepping your baby’s room. You need to encourage the toddler to help wherever they can.

Once the baby arrives, the toddler will feel guilty crying that he or she needs to breastfeed.

You can rehearse with a doll standing in for the baby what will happen when the baby finally comes.

Take the doll in your hands and sing songs for them. Pretend to breastfeed them, make funny faces, rock and feed the baby, and do as you would do with the baby.

Your toddler can help fetch the towel, wipes, diapers, and pacifiers. You need to explain to the toddler that tasks such as rocking and feeding the baby can only be performed by adults.

7. Explain why the toddler cannot play with the baby

Your tot probably expects the baby is ready to play out-of-the-womb. It is a good idea, therefore, to explain that the baby only suckles, sleeps, cries, and poops for the first year.

The baby will not be their playmate until they are a little bigger.

You can use video footage of your tot as a baby to explain why the baby will not be ready to play until they can start crawling.

You can introduce some fun activities your tot can do for the baby from day one including:

  • Songs and dance
  • Allowing the baby to squeeze their finger
  • Making faces
  • Chatting with the baby
  • Holding up a toy for the baby

Teach them that newborns love the faces of their siblings and this will make them be around the baby more often.

Once the baby arrives, you have to complement the tot for every step they take to entertain the baby.

8. Show them the soft spots of the baby

Using a doll, show the toddler the soft spots of a baby, those that they should never touch.

Point out the eyes, the soft spots on the baby’s head, the umbilical cord, nose, ears, and mouth.

Explain that because babies are not as strong as toddlers, they need gentle care and every touch should be gentle.

Stroke their hands gently and ask them to do the same for you. Show them that a gentle touch can calm a crying baby.

9. Explain why the baby gets so many gifts

It will be a shock to the toddler when you tell them that all the pretty packages are for the baby.

It will help if some of the toddler’s gifts are still in the house so you can show them what they got when they were born.

Explain that other people give gifts to celebrate the baby and encourage the tot to prepare a gift for the baby.

A month or some weeks before the baby is born, buy a breastfeeding box for toddler and keep it wrapped so they can open it when the baby arrives.

This way, the toddler will not feel left out.

Should You Hide Your Older Child When Breastfeeding?

Should You Hide Your Older Child When Breastfeeding

The old days, when parents had to hide when breastfeeding, are gone. You do not need to hide.

Your toddler is just from breastfeeding (or might still be breastfeeding) and there is nothing shameful in doing it in front of them.

Your toddler and older siblings need to understand that breastfeeding is the normal way to feed a child and not a shameful act that should be done in secrecy.

Your children will be curious when they see you breastfeed, but they need to understand that they passed through the same route. If they ask questions, be ready to give them answers.

When breastfeeding, you can do other activities to engage the toddler and other children. As such, learn to breastfeed with one hand while the other is free.

It takes a few weeks or months to master breastfeeding with one hand, but will be vital when you need to hold the toddler and show them you still love and care for them the same way you do the baby.

Before the baby grows enough to reach the breast, place a pillow on your laps to hold up the baby. This can help you free up one hand.

If you need to hold the breast up, try using a small rolled-up towel to free up your hand.

If you can’t find a way to free up your hand, try using a sling. If you feel comfortable using a sling, it will help free a hand or two to play with the toddler.

When your baby is in a sling, the toddler will not do anything such as pull the baby’s toes, pull the baby from the crib, or try throwing a ball to them.

What if Your Toddler Acts Up? How do you Know Breastfeeding the Baby Upsets the Toddler?

Most toddlers want to have all your attention the moment you sit down to breastfeed the baby.

If you weaned the toddler a few months before the birth of the baby, the transformation will not be easy for them.

Taking care of a newborn is not easy – add another kid before you wean the first and the task doubles. Breastfeeding with a toddler around can be tricky. This is especially so when the toddler is disruptive, emotional, jealous, and sensitive.

How do you know breastfeeding upsets the toddler?

How do you know breastfeeding upsets the toddler

Breastfeeding with a toddler at home is not always difficult. It depends with how much you prepped the toddler before the arrival of the baby.

Again, some toddlers are easy going and will cut you some slack.

If a toddler craves a lot of social attention with family members even before the baby is born, they will have a hard time letting the baby take their space.

You will note any acting up starting with tantrums, crying, pulling your leg and your clothes, pulling your hair, toilet training regression, and much more.

If all these happen when you are feeding your newborn, then your toddler is upset that the baby is getting what has been theirs for a long time.

Is Acting Up a Sign of Jealousy?

Although the toddler might be jealous, as a parent, you need to understand the transition is never easy for the child.

If they were the only child in the house before the baby’s arrival, they were probably getting all the attention, all the gifts, both breasts, and all the time.

The acting up is a sign of the baby’s self-centered nature, which is common with all babies, and the changes in routine.

Sometimes, the toddler feels lonely when everyone is taking care of the crying baby in shifts.

Seeing that the toddler stage is where children learn a lot, you must handle your child with care so as not to lose them.

How to Engage the Toddler When Breastfeeding the Baby

How to Engage the Toddler Using nursing box for toddler

Prepping the toddler for the baby is the most important thing you can do to make the transition easy for them.

However, once the baby arrives, you still need to give time to your toddler. You need to come up with activities for toddler while breastfeeding.

While you can get a nursing box for toddler, that is not what they will be doing all the time; more activities are necessary. Consider the following:

1. Read a Book for (with) them

If you manage to free up one hand, you can make nursing time interesting for the toddler by making it storytime.

If you still can’t free up a hand, the toddler will be happy to hold up the book and turn the pages for you to read.

A book with so many short stories is better than one with a long story. This way, you can read a story before you finish nursing.

You can also get a sticker book for them. With stickers, you do not need a free hand as most toddlers know how to use stickers.

2. Special Toys

Of all the toys your toddler has, you can hide some and only give them during feeding time.

By so doing, the toddler will associate feeding time with a good time when they can have a go at their favorite toys.

Only ensure you hide away what they treasure the most.

Identifying what your toddler loves the most will take time. Some of the toys include play dough, doctor kit, wooden trains, bikes, and any other that your kid may like.

3. Breastfeed Outside the House

Changing the scenery helps keep your toddler engaged. There is so much a kid can do outside the house from climbing walls, playing with dirt, balling, and so much more.

However, you can only feed outside when the weather is warm and you are sure you are not risking the health of the baby or the toddler.

Before you take feeding outside, ensure there are bowls, balls, swings, and other items that will interest your toddler.

Allow them to do most of the things that the small space in the house doesn’t allow, such as flying a kite.

4. Let them watch the TV

You don’t have to feel guilty when you let your tot watch TV for the minutes you will be nursing.

If you do not allow TV most of the day, letting them watch TV while you breastfeed will feel rewarding. If you have a Netflix subscription, there are so many shows for kids.

5. Nursing Box for Toddler

Nursing boxes are a great idea as they keep toddlers engaged and learning while you are breastfeeding.

You might need to give them an idea or two as they create the boxes, but they will mostly work independently.

Some of the boxes can keep the kid entrained for more than an hour depending on the contents.

Some breastfeeding boxes are messy, which is why you cannot have them any other time. The toddler needs enough space to exercise their creativity without any hindrance.

Instead of littering your rug, get a mat where the kid can explore all they need to without any challenges.

Most of the boxes should be about learning and development, especially improving the motor skills of the baby.

Some of the ideas for a nursing box include:

#1 Make rainbow rice and then the kid has to spend time scooping and pouring. You can also hide letters, animals, and other items in the rice and the kid takes time to find them.

Once they get an animal, teach them the name of the animal and the sound it makes.

For the letters, tell the kid the name of the letter and the sound the letter makes.

#2 You can also give them play dough in a box and ask them to model domestic animals or wild animals or cars. You can also let them mold whatever they need.

You can then give them food color or watercolor and brush to color the animals. The box will be messy, but your toddler’s motor skills improve significantly.

#3 A tray with fake kitchen items such as glasses, cups, plates, pans, and other items comes in handy when the toddler wants to play the mother.

You can fetch a few leaves outside and use play dough as mud.

Other Busy Boxes for the Toddler Include:

**Some links on this page can take you to Amazon.com, where you can see prices, customer reviews, product specs, etc … Please note that we only share stuff we love. We may earn a small commission if you buy through our links.

Pom-Pom Sorting

If you are trying to teach color to your toddler, pom-pom sorting can be a good way of keeping them busy.

You might need to visit the store to pick a few items, but the box is easy to set up. All you need is a muffin tin and colored pom-poms in a bag.

Teach the toddler how to sort the pom-poms either by color or size and then let them take over.

Create Bracelet using Buttons

Your child’s motor skills will improve when they work to create a bracelet. Here, you only need buttons in different colors and yarn.

Cut long strands of colored yarns and let the kid make bracelets by stringing buttons in whatever patterns they want. Ensure the buttons you buy are large and colorful.

Colored Paperclips Box Game

Colored paperclips teach your toddler to identify colors and develop their fine motor skills while you work.

With the paperclips, you do not have to guide their every move once you have shown them how to sort the colors.

Place colored cardstock on the playmat and let the toddler match the paperclips to the cardstock colors.

If you want to keep them busy for long, teach them to attach the paper clips to the paper instead of just placing them on it.

Fishing for Toys in Beans

If you have dry beans or so many beads, fill them in a large box and hide toys, measuring cups, muffin tin, and any other play item you have in the house.

Ask the toddler to fish for the toys using the scooping tools. If he gets tired of scooping, ask them to dig into the beans of beads with his hands and find the toys.

Playing Card Matching

There are so many card matching games in the store. However, you can shop for a deck of cards at the dollar store and cut them into two in different shapes.

For instance, you can cut the King in two in a zigzag pattern, the Queen in a wavy pattern, the joker straight, and any other patterns. Put the cut cards in a box and mix them.

Show the toddler how to match the patterns to make the card complete. The game gives you up to 30 minutes of quiet time when you can nurse your baby.

Word Building Busy Box

Can your toddler read or recognize words?

If they can read words such as boy, box, and other three-letter words, get them magnetic letters and let them create words on a metallic tin.

Magnetic letters are easy to find in any dollar shop.

Building Blocks

Most toddlers love building blocks. Buy blocks from the dollar store which match the age of your kid.

Simple blocks are available for younger toddlers and blocks for complex structures are also available for you to choose.

Counting Game

If your toddler can count to ten, then you can engage them in a counting game. Get them to count items, which can be coins, beads, buttons, building blocks, or anything else you have in your house.

They can create so many groups of tens. For a grade-school aged toddler, you can engage them in counting coins.

Get a small box and label it coins. Whenever you come from the store with loose change, toss it into the box and your toddler will be happy to do the math.

Puzzle Busy Box

At the dollar store, there are puzzles for every age. To keep your toddler busy, get a puzzle box that keeps them busy for at least an hour.

For the first few days, you might have to show the kid how to build the puzzles, but they will get better as days go by.

However, toddlers will get bored once they master a puzzle or if the puzzle is so challenging for their age. As such, get the right puzzle and then change it once the kid masters it.

What to Leave out of the Nursing Box

A busy box gets your toddler busy, but you might still be involved in whatever they do. It is important that you get them a box they can work on independently most of the time.

You will only need to guide them a few times, but they should be okay for like an hour or more.

Leave injurious items out of the busy box such as sharp items or chemicals that if ingested can cause harm to the toddler.

Remember the trick is not to confuse the toddlers with puzzles they will never crack, but with an activity that interests them enough to let you breastfeed in peace.

If you have no time to make a nursing box for toddlers, you can always order one online. Below are the top busy boxes.

Best Busy Boxes To Buy This Year
CraftandBoogie Busy Kit for 3-8 Years
Busy Kit for Kids 3-8 years
Etsy

Buy From Etsy

The CraftandBoogie kit works perfectly for all kids between ages 3 and 8. The kit engages your toddler in up to 18 activities, enough to keep them busy until your baby grows enough to crawl.

Each activity fits a different age category, but your toddler can start with the easiest activities and continue to the most challenging.

All the games and activities are food-themed and you can use them anywhere.

It is an ideal kit if you have more than one toddler as they can engage in different crafts, games, and activities without fights.

The kit allows your toddler to:

  • Color and create a pinwheel
  • Create jewelry with beads
  • Make a sun-catcher
  • Create a 3D ice-cream cone
  • Color a jig-saw puzzle
  • Make a foam crown
  • Solve a brain teaser
  • Play card games
  • Play with a die and markers
  • Read children jokes
  • Learn facts about a family
  • Play with goldfish
  • Play with a popsicle stick
  • Manipulate play dough
  • Decorate the kit and the coloring pages in the box
  • Build structures with sticks and dot fasteners
  • Play connect 4
  • Solve a food-themed puzzle

When shopping, all you need to do is select the age to get the right kit.

The difference between kits for different age groups is the difficulty level of the puzzles and the playing cards. Otherwise, everything else is the same.

The game improves your child’s mental ability and motor skills as they manipulate different items.

BusyKidCo Busy Box for Ages 3 and 4
BusyKidCo busy box
Etsy

Buy From Etsy (For Girls)
Buy From Etsy (For Boys)

This BusyKidCo busy box comes with 12 activities for your toddler. It is a great option when you have more than one toddler you need to keep busy.

The kit, designed for 3-4-year-old toddlers allow them to:

  • Make caterpillars
  • Decorate picture frames with markers and stickers
  • Sort and count beads
  • Play with a lacing snake
  • Design a puzzle with markers
  • Create shapes with the dough
  • Build structures with block
  • Play with stickers
  • Make art
  • Create gumball mosaic craft
  • Play with stationary, stamps, and stickers
  • Popsicle sticks with fasteners to create structures

You can have the name kit personalized to bear the name of your child at no extra cost.

Most of the items are made of high-quality plastic to withstand impact and last for a long time.

However, you need to supervise your toddler as some of the pieces are small and they may put them in the mouth.

This kit is ideal if you have more than one toddler. It is also a great unit if you’d rather have a kit that your kid can use independently.

Most of the games are easy to play unless your toddler is younger than two and a half years.

From the 12 games, your toddler’s motor skills and mental ability develop significantly.

Battat Wooden Activity Cube
Battat Wooden Activity Cube
Amazon

Buy From Amazon
Read Customer Reviews Here

There Battat Wooden Activity Cube is a single play item that keeps any kid older than a year busy.

It is an animal farm cube where kids can learn different farm animals by turning the cubes on the sides of the large cube.

It also has windows and doors, giving your toddler the idea of a shed in a farm.

At the top of the cube are pathways and beds that the small hands of the toddler can manipulate.

On the paths, your kid can drive a tractor. There are also many spinners to keep the kid busy spinning.

The box features solid wood construction with bright colors. The edges are rounded to protect your kid.

The box is meant to improve hand and eye coordination, enhance the imaginative ability of the toddler, and keep them busy while you breastfeed.

Any child older than a year will find it interesting and they can use it until they are ten.

EveEarth Garden Activity Cube
EverEarth Garden Activity Cube
Amazon

Buy From Amazon
Read Customer Reviews Here

The EveEarth Garden Activity Cube offers up to six activities to keep your toddler engaged. Your kid can sort geometric shapes, slide animals, spin gears, count beads, and play with the wire bead maze.

It enhances the development of motor skills more than it does mental development. It might be a great choice if your kid loves to manipulate and create things.

Even better, they can bring other toys, especially animals, and place them in the wooden box.

The box sports a natural wood construction and non-toxic water-based stain. It is a tall box with the beads and other pieces just large enough for the small hands of toddlers.

Its six-sided design ensures that it does not tip when the baby is playing on it.
Its exciting colors and gadgets stimulate brain development.

The bead mazes allow the child to reach while the sliders help develop motor skills. There is nothing in the busy box that can upset a toddler and you do not need to show them how to play it with.

Breastfeeding in Tandem

Breastfeeding in tandem (breastfeeding the toddler and the newborn at the same time) is not easy for every mother.

However, if the toddler is young and you have a reason to keep breastfeeding them, there is no reason not to do so.

As the demand for breastmilk increases, so does the supply of the milk. You need to feed the baby exclusively on one breast and the toddler on the other.

You will need to consume at least 500 more calories than what other lactating moms take.

However, you should wean the toddler off if:

  • Your pregnancy is high-risk
  • You are carrying twins or more
  • You experience uterine pain or bleeding
  • Your doctor advised you to stop sex

Find the right time to feed the two so the toddler doesn’t feel jealous.

Conclusion

The first few days breastfeeding with a toddler at home might feel challenging, but with time, the toddler gets used to the baby.

The trick is to show them love and keep them engaged while your nurse the baby. A nursing box for toddler can help you engage the toddler.

Additional information:

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