If you are breastfeeding a toddler and pregnant with a subsequent child, you might be thinking about the possibility of continuing to breastfeed your toddler once your new baby is born.
Tandem breastfeeding is when a mother breastfeeds two children of different ages at the same time.
This might come about when a breastfeeding toddler doesn’t wean during the mother’s pregnancy or when he or she resumes breastfeeding after the birth of a new sibling.
If you are tandem feeding, it’s important to make sure your diet provides you with adequate nutrition. Speaking with a dietitian or nutritionist can help.
Read more about this in our article Breastfeeding While Pregnant | 7 Important Facts To Know.
In some cultures, tandem feeding is common practice. In our culture, however, it’s uncommon and so it’s not unusual for mothers to have concerns about it.
This article will help answer any questions you might have about tandem feeding and, we hope, will put your mind at ease.
6 Facts About Tandem Feeding
Here are 6 important facts about tandem feeding.
Tandem Feeding Facts #1. It’s normal to have mixed feeling about tandem breastfeeding
It’s not uncommon for mothers to have mixed feelings about tandem feeding.
On the positive side, mothers might see tandem breastfeeding as a great way to meet each child’s needs and to continue to provide the benefits of breastfeeding to two children at once. It also helps create a special bond between the younger child and older child.
On the negative side, mothers might feel ‘touched out’ by breastfeeding more than one child at once. Many mothers report resenting the demands of their older child or developing nursing aversion towards the older sibling.
For more information on breastfeeding aversion, you can read BellyBelly’s article: Breastfeeding Aversion | 7 Questions When Suffering From D-MER.
Some mothers worry that the older nursing child will take attention away from their newborn baby, or that the new baby will get less breast milk as a result of tandem nursing. The good news is, breast milk supply increases according to demand. That means the more milk that is removed from your body (by breastfeeding two or more children at the same time), the more milk your body makes in response. You can also rest assured that when tandem nursing a newborn and older children, your body will adjust to making the milk specific to the needs of the younger child.
It’s important to do what works best for you and your family. If you decide weaning your older child is the best option, it can help to do so gradually.
Find out more in Weaning A Toddler: 10 Tips To Gently Wean Your Toddler.
Tandem Feeding Facts #2. Tandem nursing can help develop closeness between siblings
Many tandem nursing mothers find that breastfeeding a younger and older child is great way to foster a close bond between the breastfeeding siblings.
Tandem breastfeeding can help an older child adjust to the new family dynamic when the baby arrives. Toddlers or older children can often feel a sense of jealousy towards a new baby. Continuing your breastfeeding relationship with your older child can help alleviate these big and sometimes confusing emotions.
Tandem Feeding Facts #3. Tandem breastfeeding can help relieve early engorgement
Some mothers experience engorgement when their milk comes in.
Sometimes, a newborn baby might not drink enough milk to help relieve the engorgement sufficiently.
When you tandem nurse, the older child can come to the rescue and drink what breast milk the new baby has not drained effectively. This can also help with the onset of mature milk production.
For more information, you can read BellyBelly’s article When Does Breastmilk Come In ? | 7 Important Facts.
Tandem Feeding Facts #4. Tandem breastfeeding can help slow a fast flow
Mothers who tandem breastfeed typically have an abundant breast milk supply and there can also be a fast flow of milk, especially at the start of feeds.
Some mothers find their newborn might have trouble keeping up with the swallowing rate needed at the start of the feed when the flow is fastest. If the older child is willing, he or she could feed first until the flow slows down.
This is often only a temporary problem, as your supply and flow will most likely settle down and your newborn will also be able to cope better.
Tandem Feeding Facts #5. Tandem nursing can help meet both children’s needs at the same time
Your two breastfeeding children can feed at the same time or separately – whatever works best.
If feeding them together works for you, it can be a great way to meet the needs of both children at the same time. When breastfeeding two children at the same time, you might need to experiment with different tandem nursing positions. Many mothers find a semi-reclined position, with both babies lying diagonally across their torso, to be the most comfortable. Breastfeeding in this position also helps everyone get rest at the same time.
Sometimes it can help to speak with an Australian Breastfeeding Association breastfeeding counsellor or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), to help work out what might be best for you.
Tandem Feeding Facts #6. The health benefits of breast milk reduce the risk of either child getting sick
As well as meeting their emotional and nutritional needs, breast milk lowers you children’s risk of illness for as long as you continue breastfeeding. There is no upper limit on the age of breastfeeding. The World Health Organization recommends that nursing continues for 2 years and beyond, or for as long as a mother and child choose.
Tandem feeding can be a very rewarding experience.
Breastfeeding a child until he or she is ready to wean can be very gratifying and can assist in a child becoming more emotionally secure.
Recommended Reading: Breastfeeding Toddlers – Why Continue Breastfeeding?