Nursing two: Toddler seems jealous

I recently gave birth and I am nursing my toddler as well as my newborn. I am concerned because my toddler seems jealous of the new baby, especially when she is nursing. She usually crawls into my lap and wants to nurse too. Am I doing the right thing by nursing two?

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Debbi Donovan

Debbi Donovan is a Board Certified Lactation Consultant, as well as a retired La Leche League Leader. For more than a decade, Debbi... Read more

Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! Nursing two can be both rewarding and challenging. Your older child may feel jealous, seeing the new baby feeding at your breast. As you mentioned, this may cause her to increase her frequency of nursing. She may feel the need to reestablish her territory. Your toddler may also need the closeness and comfort she receives while nursing as she adjusts to life with her new sibling. Nursing two isn't always easy. Some mothers feel uncomfortable and are concerned that tandem nursing may be disturbing their bond with the new baby. A new mom may be also be concerned that the older child isn't leaving enough milk for the youngest. This can result in negative feelings associated with nursing the older child or a restlessness -- an "antsy" feeling -- while they nurse.

Though there is usually not a concern with the milk supply being sufficient for the two children, I think your feelings about tandem nursing need to be considered. Tandem nursing is not for everyone. The reality is, bringing a new baby into the family can be very stressful for all involved. The demands of an older nursing child may cause you to see the focus of the problems as the tandem nursing, while in reality it may be the transition of adjusting to life with a brand-new baby!

During this time, your partner can be of great help to you. Allow him to give you some time alone with your new baby -- to help establish your bonds. He can take walks with your older child, take him to the park, out to dinner ... Make sure that your partner is aware of your feelings and ask for his help.

It is also important to make time to take care of yourself. Try to get some time outside in the fresh air each day. Exercise can really help to lift your spirits. This can even be done with both children along. You can carry your baby in a sling or pack and the older child can be pushed in a stroller or walk alongside you. It may be quite a challenge for you to eat regularly, even though you may be hungrier than ever. Ask your partner to help by cutting up some fruits and vegetables each night so that you can have some healthy and easy-to-grab snacks while he is at work. Set a pitcher of water or juice on the table next to the chair you nurse in.

Try to find ways to take care of your needs as you care for your babies. You will all benefit! My best wishes to you and your family.

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