Older Siblings and Feeding Baby

This month on social media we’re chatting about how the family unit changes when a new baby comes along and with that a new brother or sister. For many new parents there is often apprehension about how the only child adapts to sharing his parents with the new baby and how can they ease this without any repercussions? Also, how can you manage older siblings while feeding baby?
Baby and his grand brother

This is not only a time of apprehension for siblings it is also a change for the wider family too. Many families now have step- siblings and having a baby together may result in un-certainty in the family dynamics but this is often overcome very easily. With a little preparation and chatting to the children it can be a time of excitement and looking forwards.

When I practiced as a health visitor many parents asked what should I expect with the older sibling? How can I make sure that he gets the same attention? How can I make time for him and often, I don’t want to have a favourite I want to love them equally?

To share a personal story with you – I had planned a home birth with my third and all was going to plan – the other two were in bed. However, a few hours later I was advised that I needed to go into hospital because they needed to break my waters. I hadn’t even considered this as my previous was a homebirth. So along came my very good neighbour’s husband to stay the few hours until morning.

All was well and good or so I thought when I came home 6 hours later. But 22 years later my eldest daughter told me how terrified she was when she found uncle asleep on the couch and no sight of mum and dad. So it goes to show that even children need to have a sense of security and information, they need to know what may or may not happen.

A new baby is a time of celebration and unfortunately there is no guaranteed answer to these common questions but here are a few tips that may help:

  • Talking about the arrival of the new baby and involving the sibling in planning his crib and nursery can help.  Along with, how they can help with little things like tidying their toys, helping dad with putting the washing in the machine etc.
  • If your sibling is old enough talking about what will happen when mummy has the baby, perhaps grandma coming to stay, help the child to know what to expect
  • You will be sure to have lots of visitors in the early weeks with excitement and gifts for the new baby. To avoid your little one feeling left out you could have some presents wrapped for the siblings so that they too have something to open, or they can be in charge of opening the wrapping and organising the cards.
  • Many mums wonder how they can get quiet time to establish breastfeeding when tornado brother wants mum to play with them. Know that a quiet house really isn’t necessary, your new baby will adapt to the white noise and hustle and bustle of family life.
  • Preparation is the key. Having a few quiet toys that your toddler / child can come and sit with you or nearby while breastfeeding is really helpful. For example, a book, chunky jigsaw, or an interactive tablet that just comes out when you sit and chat or a favourite children’s TV show or DVD (Thomas the tank was mine !!)
  • Having a baby sling can also mean that you can be on the move around the house and out and about. Don’t consider purchasing a tandem pushchair as an essential buy – a sling can be versatile; growing and adapting with your baby so that you can be out and about. Use a pram with a buggy board and have the flexibility without struggling with pavements, weight, and doors.
  • Many toddler regress a little and this is perfectly normal. Some may soil again after many weeks of being dry; others may be more fretful and clingy as they too want to be the baby.
  • You may also find that they are suddenly interested in nursing again and you can offer this if you want to tandem feed or you may still be nursing your toddler.  The advice here is to feed your baby first and then compliment the toddler. If you continue to tandem feed your body will adapt to the demands for both children and make enough milk. Once feeding is established you may find that you nurse both at the same time as often as you all want.
  •  For those times you want some quality time – pick up those favours from friends and family to have your toddler for a sleep over/afternoon play date for older siblings.

Your new family will adapt and your siblings will have moments of getting on and also falling out, you will find that your heart just grows to love them the same, you will wonder how you find the time, but you manage. You may feel guilty that you don’t spend as much quality time with your new baby as you did with your first – don’t. This time round your new baby has the huge reward and gain of a stimulating family life with his big brother/sister around.

Sioned x