I remember when we brought my third son home from the hospital. My middle son just turned 3 a few months before. Everything was fine while my husband was home to help me.
Having a second set of hands (and eyes) really saved the day. My 3 year old’s world just turned upside down. He was used to being our baby and the one that usually got a lot of our attention. Sharing his mom and dad were not part of his plan.
I found that out really quickly when he started acting out and doing anything he could to get attention. Good or bad. A lot of times it was bad, really really bad.
I was constantly checking on him to make sure he wasn’t overflowing a sink, writing on a wall, going outside by himself or hitting the dog with his play hammer.
Once I tried to take a quick shower and my neighbor found him in our cul de sac. Yep, that’s the moment when I learned he could unlock our garage door, or any other door for that matter.
My hands were full with a toddler and a newborn.
Forget trying to get anything done. Especially nursing the baby. That was the worst. Once the baby latched on it was like that was the signal for my toddler to create chaos and stir up trouble wherever he went in our home with whatever he was doing.
How was I supposed to keep my toddler occupied while I nursed the baby?
I quickly decided if baby #3 was going to get fed and I was going to keep my sanity I had to come up with a plan.
That’s when I came up with some ideas that helped me keep my toddler busy while nursing my newborn.
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This was a go to while I was nursing because these games were easy to play out loud.
- Simon Says
- I Spy
- Red Light Green Light
- Freeze Dance
Sometimes play dough would keep my toddler busy for an hour and sometimes 5 minutes, but it was always worth a try. It helped if I came up with things for him to “create” for me.
Ask your toddler to pick out 3-4 books that you can read to them while you are nursing.
After each story ask them if they can “act out” the story to keep their attention while you finish the nursing session.
Grab child safety scissors and an assortment of paper. Let your child cut the paper while you nurse the baby.
Yes, you will have a big mess to clean up after but it will get the job done. Plus you are working on your toddlers fine motor skills at the same time! Win Win!
Some kids love to color and others don’t. You can get dozens of coloring books from the dollar store for kids to choose from.
You can try crayons, colored pencils or even (dare I say) markers?
Yeah I don’t trust my toddler that much either
This idea was totally unexpected but my toddler has become obsessed with paper airplanes. My husband recently made him one and he loves for me to throw it to see how far it will go!
This game can last as long as I can. If your toddler can bring it back to you while you throw it for them this could be enough for time for you to nurse the baby.
You can buy sheets and sheets of inexpensive stickers for your toddler to stick to construction paper or coloring pages.
You can even make a game out of it by asking them to find all of the red stickers or all of the circle stickers. Make it fun while helping them learn!
During a nursing session offer your toddler a snack to keep them occupied.
Keep a stash of healthy snacks for them so if you have to use this trick often you won’t feel guilty over it!
Keep snacks in a place your toddler can easily grab themselves so if the activity you planned for them doesn’t work out, this can be a back up plan.
My last baby was born in late July so I was able to set up a sprinkler in the driveway and our water table. I sat in the garage with the baby and let my toddler play while I supervised. This saved my sanity so many times.
Often just getting him out of the house or changing the scenery was able to keep him occupied and burn off energy.
Ask your toddler to lay beside you while you nurse the baby. Let them know in advance that this is quiet time. Tell them stories of how you used to care for them when they were babies.
Read Aloud Books
Recently, my toddler has loved apps that read book out loud to him. These websites are great resources for read aloud books:
My toddler loves to see how high he can build a tower and then knock it over!
Puzzles are a great way to keep little ones entertained. I would recommend ones with large easy to put together pieces so they do not get overwhelmed and abandon the activity because of frustration.
Magnets on the fridge
These inexpensive magnets are a great way to help your toddler learn numbers and letters as well as keep them busy so mama can get stuff done!
Basket of Toys toddler can only play with while you are nursing
Create a basket of toys that ONLY comes out when you are nursing them baby.
Your toddler will look forward to this special time because they know they only get to play with them while mama nurses baby brother or sister and keep their attention for longer periods of time.
Lacing cards are great for encouraging fine motor skills in toddlers.
Sorting Pom Poms
Ask your toddler to sort various colors and sizes of pom poms into different containers.
You can provide measuring cups for them to put the pom poms in and them larger containers like and old coffee can for them to dump the smaller cups into. Any old container will work, it doesn’t have to be anything special.
Pipe cleaners in a colander
Grab and old colander and some pipe cleaners and ask your toddler to put them in the colander. Once in the colander they can bend them and shape them!
Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Motherhood with a toddler and newborn is hard.
Sometimes you just need a break. Put on a 30 min show, offer a snack and everyone is happy.
Right now is not the time to be a “pinterest perfect mom”.
Sometimes its just the break you need to save your sanity. This phase won’t be forever.
Best TIPS before you start nursing the baby:
Meet your toddlers needs first: change their diaper or offer to take them to the potty, grab a snack or drink if needed.
Fill up your toddlers love cup first. Spend the 10-15 min before you need to nurse the baby connecting with your toddler.