Attending to the needs of a baby and a toddler at the same time is tough, because they both want different things at different times.
While your baby is all about the milk right now, your toddler just wants to play, play and play some more.
Whether you are breast or bottle feeding your new baby, it means your arms are occupied and you can’t give your toddler 100 per cent of your focus.
One of the things I found most frustrating and difficult with my second baby was feeling torn between the two kids.
My toddler wanted to play with me. I wanted to be able to give her some attention. But my baby just wanted to feed, feed and feed some more, in the first eight weeks particularly.
Here are some tips for how to cope at feeding time when you have a toddler who wants you to entertain them.
1. Have a child safe room
Wherever you end up feeding your baby, try to make sure that room is secure and safe for your toddler.
You don’t want to have to keep getting up and down to stop your eldest from doing something dangerous.
2. Have a box of toys within arms reach
Your toddler wants to be near you, there’s not much you can do about that and why would you want to! However it’s better to have them occupied than attempting to climb all over you while you’re struggling to get the baby to latch.
Get a shoebox and fill it with small books and toys so that your toddler can rifle through it. Try to keep the lid on it and tuck it away in between feeds, as it will be way more interesting and work much better if they lay eyes on it for the first time as you start the feed.
Why not give them some musical toys to play with? This is a great time to encourage your child to learn a musical instrument!
3. Use TV
The television is my failsafe option for keeping the kids quiet when I need to get something done.
The early weeks with a baby are particularly tough, so don’t feel bad if you have your toddler watching more cartoons than usual during this time.
4. Breastfeed outside in the garden
The garden has loads of things that can keep your toddler occupied. Find a comfy spot, or pop a blanket down on the grass, and challenge them to a bug hunt or ask them to pick some flowers.
5. Give them a baby to feed
Children love to copy you, it’s how they learn. Give your eldest their own baby doll to care for and a bottle so that they can pretend to feed at the same time as you.
6. Read books
This is something that you can manage one-handed, as long as the books aren’t too heavy. Go for light board books so that the pages don’t flop all over the place.
7. Offer a snack
Try to make it something that will take them a bit of time to eat. Things like apples are good as they have to take bites, they can’t just ram it all in in one go!
You could also try a selection of goodies, such as breadsticks and hummus, grapes and small cubes of cheese.
8. Get comfy on the floor
By feeding your baby on your lap while sitting on the floor, you give yourself a lot more space to sit next to your toddler and play with them – one-handed of course.
Get some cushions or a soft rug to sit on so you can be comfortable while feeding. It may help to sit close to a wall or piece of furniture that you can use to lean on so that your back is supported.
Do you have any extra tips for feeding a baby while entertaining a toddler?