If you are expecting but are still nursing your older child, then tandem nursing might be a great fit for you.
My toddler wasn’t weaned when we had our second child so I decided to give tandem nursing a try. Nursing throughout toddler-hood has its benefits. Your milk is loaded with nutrients and antibodies and the act of nursing provides comfort and security.
To get started tandem nursing, here are my top 3 tips:
Tip 1: Gearing up with the right supplies
Whether you are tandem nursing or not, nursing a newborn means you will be spending A LOT of time nursing. Throw in recovering from birth and you will probably spend most of your time in those first few weeks wanting to be comfy.
The first time around I didn’t realize I needed postpartum nursing clothing. It was a big struggle to try to nurse in regular clothing and I also only wanted to be in soft comfortable clothing as my body recovered and continuously changed post-partum.
My favorite must-have is a nursing pajama set. I absolutely love the Analise 5-Piece Mom and Baby Maternity and Nursing PJ Set by Everly Grey. It has a matching baby outfit that I can’t get enough of. The top is perfect to be worn as part of the pajama set or even as a day time shirt. I can easily nurse in this; not just my newborn but also my toddler. The pants are great because they fit well as your body changes; they fit during pregnancy and after. I also never knew the value of having a comfortable nursing robe. I love placing my baby skin to skin after nursing and wrapping them up in a robe.
Make sure you pick out one that you really love so that all of your photos during those first few weeks will be gorgeous. I looked like a hot mess in all my photos after my first delivery because I had nothing to wear. This time around I wore the Bamboo Caminurse PJ & Robe Set during my hospital stay and have photos that I love!
Tip 2: Prioritizing baby first
Baby must be prioritized in nursing since baby can only nurse. It is important to talk about this with your older child and explain that while they can eat food like bananas and bread, baby can only have mom’s milk.
Your toddler, who might have been nursing only once or twice a day might want to nurse whenever they see baby nursing. If you don’t want to nurse both that often, try always having a snack available for your older child. You can also have a special basket of toys that only come out when you need to nurse baby only. I found this especially helpful in the beginning because I really needed both hands to help my baby latch and stay on.
Tip 3: Deciding on how to tandem nurse
It is important that you have a game plan on how you plan to nurse both children. If you plan on letting your toddler nurse every time your baby does, then you should either alternate sides every time or every day.
A lot of toddlers only nurse a few times a day so be sure to alternate what sides your toddler nurses from. If you want to only nurse one at a time, always have baby go first and then have the toddler nurse after. This will ensure your baby is getting enough.
I preferred to nurse only one at a time in the very beginning since newborns are tricky to latch. I found that my toddler doesn’t mind waiting as long as she knows she will also get to nurse. I usually explain to her that baby needs to nurse first but then it will be her turn.
Tandem nursing doesn’t have to be all or nothing
Tandem nursing wasn’t something I ever sought out to do, but it simply just happened. My toddler had no interest in weaning, so I decided to give it a try.
After the initial transition of trying to find out how to include my toddler in nursing sessions, I am happy I am tandem nursing. I love how they can both snuggle in my arms and nurse together or I can give each some special mom time. I didn’t have to wean my toddler when baby arrived, and every day can be different based on what my children need.
I think it really does help an older child cope with sharing their mom since they still get that comfort and security. If it isn’t going well, just like with any breastfeeding issue, always seek support from breastfeeding groups or your providers.
Lastly remember to gear up with some awesome breastfeeding bras,shirts and my favorite breastfeeding lounge/pajamas sets. Be sure to grab a gift for your older child from baby for the hospital and then trial and error what works for your toddler.