Breastfeeding my first baby was easy (after a hard and painful first few days). I was on maternity leave and didn’t have to be anywhere at any given time until that 6 week doctor’s visit. I was in a blissful little bubble that revolved completely about meeting the needs of that new little babe.
Fast forward four years and things have changed dramatically. This time around there is a precious new baby whose needs must be met and who requires plenty of mummy time as well as my grown up ‘baby.’ He is now an energetic and enthusiastic preschooler who demands plenty of my attention.
In the lead up to having baby number two I started brainstorming the best activities to keep my little man engaged and happy during potentially long breastfeeding sessions. It turns out, by great luck, that my new baby is an efficient feeder so breastfeeding is quick, however…she has embraced the idea of arsenic hour(s) and needs holding from 4-7pm or will scream the house down.
I’ve done a bit of reading and a great suggestion I’ve come across is to have a special box or kit of items that only get played with during breastfeeding sessions. The toys, games and activities are put safely back in the box once baby is fed and then can be played with again next time you’re nursing.
I was on the hunt for a lot of ideas so I asked around and here are a few recommendations from friends and family:
TV or iPad-
This is the most obvious (and probably the easiest) of choices. Watching something on the television or playing with apps on the i-Pad will entertain little ones quite well and it’s only fair the TV is on a bit more than normal in those first few months with a baby.
Busy Bags are portable and easy for little ones to play with one their own with minimal guidance from you while you’re breastfeeding bub. Flying Sprout has a great range of Busy Bags which you can find here. Each Bag contains a number of activities which are both engaging and educational.
Find and Seek Books-
There are so many books out there which are great for kids of all ages. In many there is a strip on each double page spread showing what needs to be found in the illustration or photograph. This type of book is great because you’ll be able to interact with your toddle or preschooler as much or as little as you’d like while feeding.
Small World Play-
There are many fabulous ideas around for setting up a play station with small world animals. You can use items from the garden, artificial turf, water (if you’re child is playing outside) and any array of toys. We have farm animals and dinosaurs, there are also sea creatures and animals from continents all over the world. Having the small world set up means toddlers or preschoolers have a space already available to them that they can use whenever you start breastfeeding.
This is the most popular toy in our house. We spend some time most mornings building a new structure (barn yard, house, shops, fire station, boat) and the rest of the day playing with it. You could also have challenge cards for your child; build the tallest tower you can, sort the Duplo pieces by colour, build a cube etc.
Wooden puzzles, puzzle books or boxes are all great toddler taming, breastfeeding friendly activities if your child doesn’t need too much assistance.
A blank piece of paper and some crayons, pencils or textas can keep some little ones busy, others might need a colouring/activity book to keep them entertained. Either way, this is a quick, easy quiet task to set up.
Peeling and sticking stickers is a great task for building concentration and fine motor skills. There are so many options; reusable stickers on a background, colour matching activities, sticking dots on an outline of their name…
Similar to the small world play, just with dolls and a house.
Extra large, double shot coffee anyone? Maybe not now you’re feeding a baby (though we all know now is the time you need it more than ever!) but there is no harm in imagining, or ordering one from your preschooler’s kitchen, cafe or shop. Maybe the baby would even like some fried eggs?
Unrolling a portable car mat and grabbing out a few match box cars is a sure fire way to get some quiet time in my house!
It can get messy but is a great way to entertain and engage little ones
Glue and scissors need monitoring but if you are sitting at or near the craft table your toddler or preschooler can go to town creating a new masterpiece. Pinterest has loads of ideas for simple craft projects your little one can work on while you’re nursing.
The idea is similar to busy bags in that an activity box can be grabbed out and opened at the start of the nursing session and put away at the end. Everything is contained and can be continued on with next feed. Play at Home mom LLC has a great collection of busy boxes here.
If you know it is going to be a long evening of cluster feeds, you can always whip out the ultimate quiet activity…sorting 100s and 1000s. A friend once told me of this highly amusing (and no doubt painfully frustrating) task where your preschooler is given a packet of sprinkles emptied in to a tray and asked to sort them into colours! Imagine the quiet time with that!