Getting Full Feeds for Your Infant, With a Toddler!
My first born had just turned three when we welcomed her sister into the world. I was definitely concerned that implementing The Full Feedings Method® would be harder with two kids, but I have been pleasantly surprised at how smooth things have gone. My toddler has been showing patience beyond her years in the past few weeks, and I am so grateful for that. It must be hard to become a big sister and receive less attention than you are used to, but I truly believe that because I prioritized sleep and feeds for her the past three years, she understands that we have to do the same for her sister.
I knew I would need energy to best care for my two girls and that prioritizing sleep would be the only way to do that. I also know the best way to get your infant to sleep well is to feed them fully. It is not always easy to take 30 minutes out of your day to accomplish something when you have a toddler. It is even more difficult when you need to take 30 minutes, almost every two hours, to do anything when you have a toddler to entertain. It was truly one of my biggest concerns when having my second child, but so far so good!
Here is what you can do to accomplish full feeds for your infant when my toddler is around:
- Get your toddler involved! This is HUGE for us. They can support your infant's feet or help you burp, or even wipe up spit up if they are brave enough.
- Ask them to read you and your infant a book or tell you both a story. This is the perfect time to give them your “undivided” attention. Ha!
- Put on a show, movie or get an IPad loaded with a game, limiting screen time to a 30 minute feed works great for everyone!
- Keep a coloring book close to where you usually feed, the no mess marker coloring books are a personal favorite!
- Facetime a family member!
- Ask them to show you a trick or how fast they can run into the other room.
- Set a timer for when the feed ends that way they know when you will be finished.
My older daughter loves to be involved and to help, so asking her to help with feeds has allowed me to get full 30 minute feeds every time. She loves to burp her sister and hold her feet. I always encourage her to help and praise her for being such a good big sister. Whenever anyone else is around, I always tell them how much she helps me and how good she is being, so she can hear it from others as well. She also loves to give her baby sister one of the art pieces she creates while I'm feeding! This is all how I tell her I NEED her to accomplish full feeds for her sister and how important she is to us. Toddlers love to be reminded at how important they are, especially when they have just welcomed a new sibling.
Breastfeeding should be a team effort and any help you can get from your support system, you should take. Tell your family that they may be called on to help you accomplish full feeds and to please answer your Facetime calls. This is how you can use your “village” to help when they aren't actually present. My toddler loves a timer, and telling them you set a timer for when the feed ends will reassure them that the feed will end and gives them a hard line of when you can give them your time. I always tell her that I can't wait to play with her, when I am done feeding her sister to give her something to look forward too. I have been begging my toddler to watch one of her shows with me, which she loves. All of these things have been really helping me to get full feeds in for my infant and sleep is following, thank god!
Despite how well things are going, I wish I could have prepared her a little bit better. I kept telling my toddler how fun and exciting it was going to be to have a baby in our house and how cool it would be to be a big sister. All of this is true, but I should have been more clear on the reality of life with a newborn.
Things I wish I did to better prepare my toddler:
- Included her in baby prep around the house.
- Given her a run down on what a typical day will be like.
- Explain how important her new role will be.
Looking back on preparing her for the birth of her sister, I should have explained what that actually would mean for her. I told her how fun it would be to have someone to play with, but not how my focus would have to shift from her to someone else. I wish I took her to the changing table I had set up and explained that I would be here often changing the baby's diaper and she could help me do that. On a walk to school I should have said “in a few weeks, we will take the stroller with the baby in it with us to school.” I could have explained that I would need to sit and feed her for 30 minutes several times a day and what we could/couldn't do during that time. I also should have explained that she would be so important in the care of the new baby and that I needed her help.
So far none of my days as a mother of two have been perfect, and none of them need to be in order to get my newborn to sleep well or to function well as a family. I just have to keep going and get creative when things aren't going the way I want and sleep should continue to follow.
To eating & sleeping well,
Kelly & The Full Feedings Family
P.S. If you need help more help with EATING check out our FULLER FEEDINGS Online Programs for Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding.
P.P.S. If you need more help with SLEEPING and want to learn a simple 3-step method to get your little one (or toddler) to sleep WITHOUT crying it out, make sure to check out FULL FEEDINGS Online Programs for Infants & Toddlers.