By Jennifer Clark, IBCLC. Revised September 2022
Tandem feeding can be multiples or siblings.
Having a new baby is a big change in a family, whether it’s your first or fourth. Young children may struggle with this change so it is good to prepare them for this change through reading stories together and using pictures to prepare them. If you’re planning on tandem feeding explaining this to your child will help such as “new baby will be able to feed on this breast”. Continuing to feed throughout may help your child transition emotionally to having a new baby brother or sister and spending this time with them feeding can be very special.
When the baby is born you will produce colostrum and it is important that your new baby feeds regularly and get enough milk (See P & A details on milk transfer). When your milk comes in your older child may want to feed more. If you’re happy to feed them more often than this can be very special. However, if you prefer to keep feeds at a minimum it is important to keep these boundaries and explain this to your older child. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your older child want to feed then distraction and having boundaries will help. Sometimes this feeling can cause breastfeeding aversion or agitation making you feel ‘touched out’ and want to limit your older child’s feeds. If you do feel like this looking into why can be helpful. Sometimes it can be as simple as being dehydrated, not eating well or being very tired. Having support around will help this so you get time for self-care.
Tips for distracting your older child when breastfeeding your newborn – This could be a ‘breastfeeding box’ that has activities you can do while feeding like reading books, having snacks and drinks for both of you. Getting your child involved in looking after the new baby also helps.
Whether you feed both of your children separately or together is up to you. This may depend on the age of your older child and when they usually feed. Feeding to sleep and getting positions to be able to feed both children is something to consider.
Picture shows mum feeding an older child and newborn.