5 Ways to Entertain Your Toddler When You’re Nursing a Baby

5 Ways to Entertain Your Toddler When You’re Nursing a Baby

Nursing a baby with a toddler around? Try these tricks for keeping him occupied.

By: Nicole Fabian-Weber

When I was pregnant with my now-2-month-old son, I knew balancing his needs once he was born with the needs of my 2 1/2-year-old daughter was going to be a challenge. After all, my daughter’s favorite activity is running, and, well, I’ve yet to meet an infant whose interests don't fall under the umbrella of The Opposite of Running. I knew that, for the most part, my daughter was still going to require the majority of my attention (read: monitoring), and I was fully prepared to do just that. However, what I wasn’t prepared for was how hard it would be to keep her occupied while nursing a baby.

As anyone who's ever breastfed can attest, it’s a rather time-consuming affair, particularly in the beginning when you and your baby are just getting the hang of things. Sometimes, my nursing sessions with my son take around 45 minutes -- and that’s not including holding him upright for 20 minutes or so afterwards (the poor guy has acid reflux). And, what do you think my extremely energetic, extremely willful daughter wants to do during these times? Everything she’s not supposed to!

I’ve tried to come up with a few activities for my toddler when I’m nursing my son. I can't say I'm always successful at keeping my daughter occupied, but I can say moms should have a plan for breastfeeding around a 2- or 3-year-old. Trust me, when you wing it, things can get ugly really fast!

Here are five toddler activities to try when you're nursing.

1. Milk pops. I actually stole this idea from a doula I know. When it’s time to breastfeed the baby, I’ll let my daughter have her special treat -- a milk pop we made. We’ve frozen milk with various things -- honey, cinnamon, blended strawberries -- and she can only have it when I’m nursing. It doesn’t necessarily take her the entire duration to eat it, but it definitely takes up a good chunk of time.

2. Let them "find" things. Sometimes, before my daughter wakes up, I'll put a bunch of random things she normally doesn't play with -- cooking utensils, toys that have been tucked away in the basement, cookie cutters -- in a drawer in my living room and leave it slightly open. This way, when my attention is focused on feeding the baby, she thinks she's discovered a treasure trove on her own volition. Works like a charm!

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3. Make a nursing box. Full disclosure, I have yet to muster up the energy to do this (newborn, remember?), but a friend of mine used this trick and said it worked well. Basically, she decorated and filled an old shoe box with fun trinkets and toys that her toddler could only play with when she was nursing the baby. Once the feeding was over, the box was put away.

4. Have a surprise stash. For the days when nothing seems to be working, it might be time for some "treats." Before I had my son, I picked up a few small items -- coloring books, stickers, little dinosaur figurines -- and I have them stashed in the back of a closet for when I really need them. What toddler doesn't love a surprise?


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5. Laptop/TV/phone. Most of us like to limit the amount of screen time our kids get, but the fact is, having a toddler and a nursing newborn is hard. When all else fails, I have a few educational games on my phone that my daughter and I can play together when I'm nursing. And when that doesn't work, sometimes I switch on her favorite show. This, of course, should be done sparingly.

Every toddler is different, so what's fun to one may be kind of boring to another. Again, the key is having activities ready to go, because a toddler left to her own devices spells trouble!

How do you entertain your toddler while nursing?

Nicole Fabian-Weber is the mama to a sweet toddler girl and an equally sweet baby boy. She lives outside of NYC and writes for The Stir and numerous other online publications.

Image ©iStock.com/mrovka

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