Tandem Nursing a Toddler and a Newborn

We’ve made it a month into nursing two and it certainly hasn’t been easy.

Well, it’s been easy on one side of it. Twig is a great nurser. She nurses quite frequently at times, but overall goes much larger intervals than Peanut ever did at this age (because Peanut had reflux). She spits up quite a bit, but I think that’s more because of a forceful let-down (she sometimes gags and coughs during nursing) and a high supply. Things seem to be calming down though, whether that’s because she’s getting used to it or my supply is naturally evening out.

The more difficult side has been Peanut. The biggest problem has been herConstant. Insistence. On. Nursing. During the first couple of weeks, she was literally asking for it more than Meredith. She didn’t get it every time that she asked (mostly because it wasn’t feasible to nurse herthat much), but I tried to give her what she needed as much as possible. I know that she was using nursing as a way to reconnect more than anything. I keep trying to tell myself that when she asks for it over and over and she has decreased the amount that she’s asking over the last couple of weeks. Regardless, it’s driving me crazy.

The secondary issue has been her latch/sucking/something. I’m honestly not sure what it is, it could just be a toddler’s nursing versus a newborn’s nursing. We’ve worked on her opening her mouth “really big” when she’s going to latch on, but even when she has all of my {huge} areola in her mouth, I still sometimes end up with teeth marks that seem closer to the nipple than they should be. I’ve also tried nursing her laid back like I do with Meredith because someone is La Leche League suggested she may be reacting to my forceful let-down (because the pain often increases when I let-down), but that doesn’t always help. The pain is far from unbearable and doesn’t leave any lasting effects (I haven’t needed to use nipple cream at all since Twig has been born), but it’sveryirritating.

So this combination of Peanut constantly requesting nursing and me being irritated when I let her nurse has brought me to a place where I didn’t think I’d ever be–I’m thinking of weaning. The other day I was actually irritated to the point where I wanted to stop letting her nurse right then an there, but after getting my cool (and reading some Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Adventures in Tandem Nursing), I realized I don’t really want to cut her off like that. I honestly think that it would be traumatizing for her.

I am going to make some steps towards weaning though. I don’t enjoy nursing her anymore. I am outwardly irritated when we’re nursing and I’m sure she sees and feels that. It makes me feel awful that I know she knows that, but that just gives me more fuel to move towards weaning. Maybe after cutting out some of the bad parts, I’ll be happy to continue with nursing her during the good times. Hopefully cutting away the nursing times that irritate me the most will make everything better.

So I’m giving up our first thing in the morning nursing. This used to be my favorite nursing. Even when we’ve experienced difficult times in the past, that one has always been grand. It has allowed me to sleep longer and cuddle with my baby. Sadly, it’s not like that any more. Since Twig was born, this nursing session has been moving earlier and earlier in the morning and Peanut doesn’t go back to sleep after. It also often wakes me up fully because nursing isn’t comfortable. So we all end up awake and grumpy way too early in the morning. I’ve been trying to put her off (“not until the sun comes up” and “once the clock says 7:00” and other similar things), but she just cries and eventually ends up getting out of bed. Or some of the time I give in hoping she’ll go to sleep and she doesn’t, which makes me extra irritated.

Secondly, I’m going to try to avoid nursing during the day. She’s asking to nurse at least every time that Twig nurses right now and I’m trying to distract her. This has been difficult though because she will keep asking over and over. Even when I say “Yes, in a minute” or “Once I’m done with such-and-such thing” she still asks over and over. I’ve tried distracting her with other things, but then she’ll ask again once she’s no longer distracted. I’ve mostly resorted to telling her “Mommy doesn’t want to right now” and I don’t particularly like putting it that way. I tell her it’s my body so I’m allowed to say no, but I don’t want her to feel like I’m rejecting her or that I don’t want to be around her.

So my goal at the moment is to get us down to nursing at naptime and bedtime. Once we get there, I’ll reevaluate.

Any tips for reducing toddler nursing? Things that will make me not as irritated when she is nursing? Ideas for ways to distract her or things to tell her about why we can’t right now? Especially important to me, any ideas for getting my child to not wake me up at 6am? I miss sleeping in until a normal time like 7:30 or 8!

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13 thoughts on “Tandem Nursing a Toddler and a Newborn

  1. All I can offer is a suggestion for you and Dea…
    Try finding time to spend with her in the day or maybe even a date on the weekend, with just you and her, to instill that she is very special to you even when you are not nursing. She is fighting for you now and it’s so different than it was before for her. Maybe a new special dolly she picks out that she can nurse when you are nursing your baby. I’ve also heard that calling the ‘baby’ our baby or her baby (meaning Meredith) gives the new one a more importance to her (Dea).

    I don’t think there is anything anyone can tell you that will change how you feel about nursing Dea. Those are real feelings. You can suppress them for only so long. Your feelings may change when Meredith get older or they may not.

    Just a thought 🙂

    Good luck, Mama

    • That’s a really good idea. I’ve noticed that she’s happier on her Music Together days even with Twig still with us in class. I just try to really focus on it being “Peanut time” and saying yes to her more often. Maybe I need to spend some time every day really focusing on her. I don’t think I’m to the point where I’d be okay leaving Twig yet, but I can still make sure Peanut gets some really focused attention.

      I like the idea of calling Twig her baby. I also like the idea of the doll. One interesting thing I read that I’ve been trying to do is telling the baby “Just a second, it’s (insert toddler’s name)’s turn” type of things. I use it a lot when Twig is crying to be picked up and I’m in the middle of doing something with/for Peanut.

      • You got it.
        Keeping in mind that you need to fill up Dea’s love cup. Lots of kisses, tickles, extra hugs etc…
        When G really needed me and I was nursing ALL day, I’d put J in the swing and sit with Gretta and read, cuddle…and I didn’t have to leave 😉 That was the time when she unweaned and continued to nurse for another 1.5 years.

  2. I’ll vouch that a toddler’s latch feels very different than a baby’s latch. I can let Isaac latch forever, but Margaret’s gives me the “STOP NOW STOP STOP STOP” feeling. We no longer nurse during the day, but I nurse her to sleep and let her nurse for small intervals at night (like 10-20 seconds). Actually, I don’t nurse her to sleep. I nurse her for 2 minutes (timer on my phone!) and then unlatch her and she falls the rest to sleep on her own. BUT she’s almost 4 and I know Peanut is not that old yet. But yeah- toddler’s latches DO feel different, it’s not just you! And the first few weeks of getting used to sharing mom and being a big sibling? Hard. But it does pass!

    • Actually Peanut does nurse and then unlatch and go to sleep on her own for bedtime. She won’t sleep unless she falls asleep nursing for nap though. Her naptime is really important to me too (and often my naptime too!) for recuperating, so I don’t know what I’ll do if she does end up weaning.

  3. I can’t help you with tandem experience – my toddler stopped nursing when the milk changed, then some unknown relstive convinced him that “nursing is for babies”… The entire husband’s side of the family perhaps… Sigh. I know he wants to s

    • Sorry, I’m writing this on the phone, and accidentally pressed the done key.

      He sometimes wants to. I digress. Things aren’t much easier here, despite our lack of nursing. When tired, he cries whenever she makes almost any noise… And I. Mean. Wail. Non stop. With tears running down his face. I have to carry him and the baby down the stairs together, and nap time was a disaster, because I can’t always rock him any more, or sometimes the baby wants to nurse at just the wrong time. He doesn’t know what to do with himself when she is cluster feeding, and always seems to demand some kind of attention right when she gets hungry. Every morning he cries bitterly, asking for DADDY, because I always have the baby with me. I sometimes think longingly of how great it would be if I could settle him down by just popping him on along with the baby.

      Some things help us, and may perhaps work for you, are the following: I read him his favorite books while we nurse. Whenever she is asleep, and he isn’t, then I focus on him as much as I possibly can. When he is distressed, then he can often be distracted by switching his mind to something else, that I know he likes, using great detail… Like this: “look …insert toddler’s name…, there’s a little shiny green frog, with big black spots on him, jumping on your leg”. Hand makes hopping motion on his leg. “He’s looking for some juicy black flies to eat. Do you have any for him?”. Toddler starts feeding the frog. The descriptions help him fill up his mind and really get involved with whatever it is, real or imaginary. The baby and I also play together sometimes. He likes to pretend to be a “scary lion”, and chase the two of us around, going “rowr, rowr”. And we walk very quickly as though running, saying “oh my goodness, what a scary lion!”. He always wants to “catch” her, after he catches me. When he is in his box-house, she “knocks” on the door, and wants to say “hello”, for example. I am also trying to come up with more activities for him to get involved with while I am busy. You could ask your readers to post ideas for you and Peanut.

      About your pain during Peanut’s latch; do you ever get a strong sensation when you let down with Twig? If so, it could be the actual let down you’re feeling. I have alwaya had a forceful let down, and especially when I am more full than usual, there is a really strong sensation when the milk comes down. Kind of like a burning sensation. It sometimes comes on both sides, not just the one she is nursing on.

      Hope that helps, even if just to help you feel a little better.

      – Steph

  4. We had the same naptime bedtime battles after my #2 was born. I would have to get #2 to sleep in time for #1’s nap which was sometimes a struggle in itself. Then sometimes just as #1 was starting to have that almost asleep look in her eye #2 would wake wanting back on the boob. #1 would wail if I put #2 back on the boob and often in the end everyone would end up with tears (including me) and no one got sleep. I also noticed that it was taking a VERY long time to get #1 to go to sleep for her nap (like up to an hour). I desperately wanted her to nap so that I could nap too.

    When #2 was about 2 months and #1 was a few months short of 3 yrs I could no longer handle this nap battle of trying to insist that she sleep and decided we all needed a change. So I decided that when #2 would take his longer nap of the day this would become #1’s quiet time. I give her options of what she could do with her time. She can read books/magazines, listen to books on CD, color, play play dough, snuggle mama (snuggle only no nursing. I tell her this is #2’s time to nurse), etc. I also ask her if she has any ideas of what she can do quietly. This def makes her feel like she is in charge of this time which she loves. She has to do these quiet things in the same bedroom that #2 and I are napping in and she can not leave the room. Then I put on a CD of relaxing music that I made that plays for 60 mins. I tell her that as long as the music is playing that it is her quiet time and she has to do her quiet activity’s without disturbing Mama and baby #2. Sometimes she starts off by snuggling us in the bed and then hops down on the floor to color. Sometimes she wants to start by playing and then snuggles. It really has worked wonders for us. I get to rest and #2 has learned to play by herself for a bit.

    This has also mostly solved our bedtime battles. Because she no longer naps she is totally ready for bed by 7:30 and goes to sleep much easier. We get the kids in their jammies at 7 clean up toys, brush teeth, and go potty. Then it is Daddy daughter time in bed reading books with only a flashlight lighting the room while I nurse #2 to sleep on the other side of the bed. She often falls asleep while he is reading which is great for me but if she is still awake after #2 is asleep then Daddy turns the flashlight off and she snuggles me or nurses to sleep.

    This also gives my hubby and me time to reconnect after they go to sleep. From 8pm-10pm we can do as we please. If I am really tired I just go sleep when my kids do which I often did for the first few months. Going to sleep early also helps for early wake ups. #2 insists wake up time is 6:30am. This took awhile for me to get used to because I was used to sleeping in with #1 until 8 or 9. Also my husband will get up with the kids on the weekend and I get to sleep as long as I want and he just brings the baby to me if he needs to nurse and then takes him back out.

    On another note, to help reduce the number of times #2 was nursing in the day I did a couple of things. I would try and nurse #2 out of sight of #1 as much as possible. Go into another room or nurse in a sling and tell her he was sleeping if she asked what he was doing. Her not seeing my boobs helped A LOT. Out of sight out of mind. Also the thing that helped the most was getting us out of the house and keeping her busy. I think she wanted to nurse out of boredom during the day. So we went somewhere everyday. Library, park, cousins house, playdate with friends, take a walk, grocery store, ANYWHERE. She def asked to nurse much less if we were out and about. I also made sure she still got lots of snuggles and playtime with just mama to make her feel special.

    The good news is: It does get easier!!! Promise. Those first few months are HARD. Part of the key is asking others that you trust/have similar parenting philosophy’s with what works for them and then customize your own plan and if something isn’t working change it 🙂

    Hope this helps and thank you for your wonderful blog!!!

  5. Pingback: Breastfeeding tandem | Kevindelbridge

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  8. How did this work out for you? I’m in the same boat. I’ve been tandem nursing my 26 month old and 5 month old and I’m starting to resent nursing my 2-year old because he is so forceful. He won’t take no for an answer and desperately tries to pull my shirt off and latch on when I say no. I’m at my wits end! Tell me this gets better!

    • Sadly for me it didn’t get better. I ended up weaning her, which helped our relationship get back to normal. The good news is that two years later she’s a happy and healthy 5 year old with no resentment or anything.

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