Tandem Feeding – 6 Important Facts About Breastfeeding Siblings

Tandem Feeding - 6 Important Facts About Breastfeeding Siblings

If you are breastfeeding a toddler and pregnant with a subsequent child, you may be thinking about the possibility of continuing to breastfeed your toddler once your new baby is born.

Tandem feeding describes when a mother breastfeeds two siblings who are not twins.

This might come about when a breastfeeding toddler doesn’t wean during their mother’s pregnancy or when he or she resumes breastfeeding after the birth of a new sibling.

If tandem feeding, it’s important to ensure your diet provides you with adequate nutrition. Speaking with a dietitian or nutritionist can help.

In some cultures, tandem feeding is common practice. However, in our culture it’s uncommon and so it’s not unusual for mothers to have concerns about it.

This article will help answer any questions you may have about tandem feeding and hopefully help put your mind at ease.

6 Facts About Tandem Feeding

Here are 6 important facts about tandem feeding.

#1: Mixed Feelings Are Common

It’s not uncommon for mothers to have mixed feelings about tandem feeding. On the positive side, mothers may see tandem feeding as a great way to meet each child’s needs, help create a special bond between them and help reduce their risk of getting sick etc.

On the negative side, mothers may feel ‘touched out’ and may resent their older child’s ‘demands’ and find it difficult to focus attention on their new baby.

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.

#2: Can Help Develop Closeness Between Siblings

Many mothers who tandem feed, find it can be a great way to foster a close bond between the breastfeeding siblings.

Sharing at the breast can reduce the jealously and rivalry that can come along with the arrival of a new baby.

#3: It Can Help Relieve Engorgement

Some mothers experience engorgement when their milk comes in.

Sometimes, a newborn may not drink enough milk to help relieve the engorgement sufficiently.

When tandem feeding however, the older child could come to the rescue and drink what the newborn doesn’t to help relieve engorgement.

#4: It Can Help Slow A Fast Flow

Mothers who tandem feed typically have a very hearty milk supply and there can also be a fast flow of milk, especially at the start of feeds.

Some mothers find their newborn may have some 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 issue as your supply and flow will likely continue to settle down and your newborn will also get better at being able to cope.

#5: It 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. Sometimes it can help to speak with a breastfeeding counsellor or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant to help work out what might work best for you.

If it works to feed them together, this could be a great way to meet the needs of both children at the same time. And if you fed them both lying down, this could be a great way for you all to get some rest.

#6: It Can Reduce The Risk Of Either Child Getting Sick

For as long as a child breastfeeds, their risk of getting sick is reduced.

Less sickness in the household is always a good thing!

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 emotionally secure.

Recommeded Reading: Breastfeeding Toddlers – Why Continue Breastfeeding?

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Renee Kam IBCLC CONTRIBUTOR

Renee Kam is a mother of two daughters, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.


One comment

  1. You’ve listed positive points here but are there negative ones? I’m trying to find an unbiased article but it’s pricing difficult. Note, this isn’t an attack, I am genuinely trying to find answers. Thanks

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