Tandem Nursing

Tandem Nursing - Transcript

If you are pregnant and breastfeeding your toddler or baby right now, and you’re experiencing a healthy, normal pregnancy, you’re eating and drinking okay and getting plenty of rest, then there’ absolutely no reason why you can’t carry on feeding your newborn alongside the one who you’re feeding now. This type of feeding is called tandem feeding (nursing) and I’ve come across quite a number of breastfeeding mothers who have successfully tandem-fed.

One thing that a lot of these mothers would say is that it was important to prepare the toddler particularly in advance of the tandem feeding, just to get them prepared for having another sibling who is also feeding at the breast.

And one way you can prepare your toddler for this tandem feeding is to really have a good chat about the fact that your baby will need to do a lot of frequent feeding and that breastmilk is really your baby’s only nutrition, whereas your toddler is also taking food from other sources.

It might be that you’re really happy to try tandem nursing, but once this process begins, you reassess the situation and decide that you’d prefer if your toddler weaned from the breast- and you can begin the process of that afterwards. So nothing is set in stone; there’s flexibility, and many mothers have carried on and been very happy with tandem feeding. And if you’re looking for more information for weaning your toddler from the breast, please look at the related video on that subject.

From about the 16th to 17th week of pregnancy, your body will be making colostrum which is the low volume milk that is packed with antibodies, and for the first couple of days after the birth your body will also be producing this colostrum. Your older child can be very, very useful in helping to get your breastmilk established, and so helping the baby too. And because your toddler is feeding at the breast as well as your newborn, this can also help to prevent engorgement in that first week after the birth. If you do however, experience engorgement, please look at those related videos for more information.

And while tandem-feeding, prepare yourself for feeling very hungry and thirsty. It’s important that you eat to hunger, and you drink to thirst, to keep up the level of nutrients that will be required.

And the great thing is, there’s lots of ways to tandem feed; there isn’t a set way that it should be done. If you’ve got a toddler and a baby, a newborn, then the toddler is likely not to be needing so many breastfeeds, whereas your newborn will need all that frequent feeding. And it’s good to get all the information again regarding how to get breastfeeding off to a good start for your baby, including positioning.

Of course, toddlers are more flexible in the way they come to the breast, and some mothers prefer to feed the baby and the toddler separately, and others would prefer to do it together. So you can experiment with lots of different types of positions.

I feel that it’s also really important in the first few weeks, particularly while you’re getting breastfeeding established with your baby, that you also seek out help from friends and family who can offer practical support to you as well, maybe taking your toddler out for a little trip here and there, and occupying your toddler too.

It’s not uncommon for mothers who are tandem feeding to struggle with a number of different emotions and feelings, and sometimes feel ‘touched out’ because of the frequency of feeding both the toddler and the baby – but many have found tandem feeding to be a really positive experience, and I did know a lady who tandem fed 5 children! She had 5 children very close in age and always had two that were being tandem fed. She actually felt that tandem feeding helped to reduce the temper tantrums and to manage that far more than if she hadn’t had both of them at the breast – and she felt that this type of feeding really helped to strengthen those bonds between her babies and toddlers as they grew into children, and strengthened the family dynamic.

Review dates, references & further resources

Review Dates

V1 published June 2017. Next review date: April 2020


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