It had been about two months and I was doing my best to settle into a routine with a toddler and twin newborns in the household, a routine that included figuring out how to breastfeed two babies and keep their sister from killing them in between and during feedings! Any mother knows, three children aged three and under qualifies us for sainthood and law enforcement. What I began noticing with my new singleton (fancy term for sibling to twins) was that when she began to see signs that it was time for the twins to feed she went bat crazy! She would go around the house and find things to throw, she would even yell at me and the babies, just scream that maddening, piercing toddler scream. What really did it for us was when one day she saw that we were busy (probably trying to figure out when we could we could fit sleep into our routine) and walked over to where her brothers were laying on the floor and attempted to step on them! I was at my wits end; do I get a restraining order or set up a routine? I had even seriously considered starting to breastfeed her again. I knew that I was dealing with sibling rivalry. Well if could go back in time this is what I would recommend to my frazzled stressed self (aside from some wardrobe tips). What you are dealing with is good all fashioned sibling rivalry, it’s as old as time (think Cain and Abel, disastrous!). It is never going away, so lets find was to get through it until we can get them out of the house!
1. You should always prepare your toddler for any event that will alter there sense of time and reality, that’s pretty much anything, but with breastfeeding be matter of fact about what’s happening and if you’re comfortable and you’ve given them a good pat down, and confiscated any weapons, let them help! Let them be part of the process; boost their sense of importance and their need for attention. Toddlers are still working in Freud’s id stage. My daughter liked rubbing their heads (I think she thought they would drink faster!).
2. Have a “special” collection of activities for your toddler. Sometimes you may just be too tired to deal with a clingy toddler while feeding the baby. Have their “special” collection on hand for some much needed distraction for both of you. This collection will only come out during feedings; you can even add some DVD’s. My daughter loved her dress up jewels. They bought me about an hour and they only came out during feedings.
3. Set aside some time to do something with your toddler. Get re-acquainted with this new person because now they are a big brother or a big sister. After all you are not the only one having to deal with figuring out roles and responsibilities.
Your toddler needs some reassurance that they have not been upstaged or replaced by this new stranger(s) who has captured everyone’s attention. Your toddler needs help transitioning into this new phase. Help them be the best that they can because ultimately they will play a hand in being a role model for their sibling.
4. If you have an idea of the regularity of the feedings, let your toddler count down the time until the next feeding, when my daughter was the murderous toddler we used egg timers, now you can use the timer on your iPhone, whatever works!
5. Lastly, be consistent! You will be tired you will frustrated and you will be trying to do whatever works whether it is appropriate or not, rally any help that you can get!! Anything that you do now will set the stage for future routines and behaviors between you and your toddler later.
Lina E. Krakue, Chief Operating Officer of Kid’s Night Out Parent’s Night Off, wrote this blog! With 13 years of relevant and effective classroom experience she knows what is appropriate.