Breastfeeding & Older Siblings

By Krista Gray, IBCLC. Last updated June 5, 2013.

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My daughter often nursed her babies when I nursed mine.

My daughter often nursed her babies when I nursed mine.

What to do with older siblings can be a challenge with any new baby, but especially twins.  Whereas with a singleton a mother can nurse in a sling and still do other things – such as shop, cook, or interact with other children – nursing twins means sitting down and using both hands to support each baby.  Cooking, shopping, and doing arts and crafts are nearly impossible in the early days.  Couple that with the fact that a new mom spends a lot of time nursing and it can be a recipe for chaos at home if you aren’t armed with a plan for entertaining older siblings while nursing.

Planning ahead can turn nursing times into a precious time of bonding not only with your nursing babies but also your older children.  Here are some ideas of ways to entertain older siblings while nursing your twins:

  • Have a special box of toys that can only be played with while mommy is nursing
  • Read books together
  • Play “I spy”
  • Sing songs
  • Eat a snack
  • Play dough
  • Simple art projects that don’t require your assistance…this will vary depending on age
  • Special coloring book/crayons that are only used while mommy nurses
  • Nurse outside while older children play
  • Watch a movie together

On a personal note, I really struggled with the quantity of movies I showed my firstborn in the early days of nursing my preemie twins.  I would be perfectly happy without a TV in our home and I don’t like the idea of putting my children in front of a TV as a “babysitter.”  At the same time, I was living overseas with preemie twins who needed to be fed all the time, my husband was gone throughout the day, and I had a 2 ½ year old to entertain while nursing.  Though I showed many videos, I always felt guilty.  I did try to make sure the videos were somewhat educational; we watched them together (bonding); and I just had to realize this was a period of time in our lives.  Looking back, I don’t think my daughter is any worse for the wear.  It helped us survive and now she has two best friends to play with all the time.  It didn’t develop a pattern in our home and it was nothing that I wasn’t able to change at a later time.  So, new mama, don’t beat yourself up if you watch a lot of movies during that first year while nursing twins.  Remember, it’s a phase and won’t last forever.