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 when the new baby arrives. 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 lovely 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.

Ask for help

Talk to your partner, family and friends about plans to care for your older children. It is most important to plan for when you are in labour and during birth. Ask for help with everyday chores and caring for older children during the first few days and weeks.

Batch cook

When cooking family meals make extra and freeze it. Then you won't have to worry about cooking during the first week or so when the new baby arrives.

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.

Get help with:

  • housework
  • shopping
  • cooking
  • changing nappies
  • bathing and winding the new 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 baby, ask your toddler or older child to join you and have a cuddle. They can sing to the new baby and when bored can use the activity box.

Getting outside

If you have a toddler and a new baby, a double buggy may be a good investment. 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.

As your baby grows

Morning routine

Set your alarm one hour earlier than your older children get up. This way, you can breastfeed and change your baby before you get out of bed in the morning and get yourself dressed. Once the baby is fed and content, you can concentrate on helping the other children get ready for the day.

Plan to leave about 10 minutes earlier for school or appointments. Kids and babies can be unpredictable, especially when combined.


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. You can add a little salt or spice to your food when the children’s portions are dished out.

Getting outside

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

If you have other small children, bring a packed lunch for them to eat when you are breastfeeding.

You can breastfeed your baby anywhere, for example:

  • in a shopping centre
  • in the swimming pool changing area
  • in a parked car while watching your older kid's football match

Wherever you have to be with the other children, feel free to feed your baby. You are legally entitled to breastfeed in public places

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

Mum Bernadette describes how she found the first few weeks of breastfeeding tough.

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

Page last reviewed: 17 June 2019
Next review due: 17 June 2022