Caring for older children when breastfeeding

Managing a new baby and caring for a toddler or older children can be challenging. 

Before the new baby arrives

Prepare your child

Have several chats with your toddler or older children about the arrival of the new baby. It's normal for them to feel a little worried about what the new addition to the family will mean for them. Reassure them that while you will be spending time with the new baby, you will also have time for them.

Find a book with illustrations of breastfeeding mothers. This will help to explain the changes ahead. This is particularly useful for children who have never seen other mothers breastfeeding.

Use a doll or teddy to show a younger child how babies need to be cared for.

In your last few weeks of pregnancy attend a local breastfeeding support group. You can bring your toddler with you. If they have never seen someone breastfeeding this can be a nice relaxed environment both for you and your toddler to go after the baby is born.

Parenting advice and getting support

When the new baby arrives

In the early days, concentrate on getting breastfeeding off to a good start with your new baby. Spend some quality time with your toddler or older children in between your newborn's feeds. 

Get help with:

  • housework
  • shopping
  • cooking
  • changing nappies
  • bathing and winding the new baby

Winding and burping your baby

Involve your older child

Have a little activity box ready with your older child's favourite book, colours and soft toy.  When you're sitting down to feed your baby, ask your toddler or older child to join you and have a cuddle. They can sing to the new baby and use the activity box when they're bored.

Preparing older children for a new sibling

As your baby grows

Morning routine

Breastfeed and change your baby in bed in the morning.

When the baby is fed and content, it's easier to get dressed and help your other children get ready.

Mealtimes

Make meals that will suit everyone’s needs, and all the ages. One pot meals, such as stews and casseroles, are a great time saver when you're breastfeeding. You can add a little salt or spice to your food when the children’s portions are dished out.

Meal plans for 1 to 4 year olds

Getting outside

Breastfed babies are easy to travel with. All you need to bring are nappies and wipes.

A baby sling is also a good option for getting out of the house. You may even be able to breastfeed your baby when they are in the sling.

Feel free to feed your baby wherever you have to be with the other children.

For example, in a:

  • shopping centre
  • swimming pool changing area
  • parked car at an older kid's football match

You are legally entitled to breastfeed in public places.

You can bring a packed lunch for your other children to eat when you are breastfeeding.

Visiting family and friends will give you time to enjoy some adult conversation. You can also find help and support at your local breastfeeding support group.

Bernadette talks about the challenges of breastfeeding and caring for older children.

Page last reviewed: 28 October 2022
Next review due: 28 October 2025