Public Nursing with Toddler in Tow

By the time my first son weaned at 27 months, I was pretty slick at nursing in public. I could pop that kid on and off mid-conversation and sometimes other people didn’t even notice. But it’s all so different trying to nurse a baby with an older brother around!

Perhaps the only aspect of parenting two young children that I accurately anticipated was the difficulty of nursing my newborn, Felix, in public without losing his older brother, Miles (age 3).

In the beginning, I tried to time outings so that I never had to nurse in public at all. You can probably imagine that didn’t work out with a new baby who liked to nurse every hour on the hour. Plus, there are only so many times a three-year-old can visit his neighborhood playground before he’d like to do something new.

I needed to find a way to contain Miles, or at least encourage him not to run away while I nursed. I also needed to arrange my gear and my body so that I could spring up and run toward my older child if a problem arose. That’s tricky business!

One thing that sort of worked was to nurse Felix in the passenger seat of my car when we arrived at a location. I let Miles “drive” the car while I did this, which can entertain him for hours, but too often he’d stuff quarters in the cd player or use all the windshield washer fluid during an extended nurse-fest.

At one visit to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, I thought to bring Miles with me to the cozy chair nook on the nursery floor. In my mind, we’d snuggle up to read some books while I fed the baby and then we’d get back to playing. Except, the Children’s Museum is very exciting and of course, the second I had Felix latched on in the rocking chair, Miles took off.

And that was the first time I ran through a public place, nursing while standing up, searching wild-eyed for my pre-schooler. Some other moms recognized my panicked expression and helped me find Miles in the Mr. Rogers tree.

My next idea was to bribe Miles with chocolate chips, doled out one at a time, if he sat near me while I nursed the baby. That works pretty well, but I don’t know if I want my kiddo eating that much chocolate. I’ve found some success involving Miles in the process–he selects which bench I’ll sit on at the park and agrees to our pre-determined rule that he has to stay where he can see me.

This all works great until it doesn’t.

I’m getting really good at nursing while running! I’m telling you, I don’t even expose the nipple anymore and Felix is none the wiser when his lunch is to-go.

I haven’t found a great answer yet, so I try to make sure I’m with friends on public outings. It’s best if I find a friend with no children to supervise, but as long as someone’s around with baby-free arms, we can pool our resources and corral our kiddos…unless more than one baby needs to eat at the same time!

We’ll figure it out, I’m sure. Just in time for Felix to start solids!

We’d love to hear what works (and what doesn’t!) for other moms trying to nurse in public with an older child along. Leave a comment to share your experiences.

1 comment to Public Nursing with Toddler in Tow

  • When my second son was a newborn, I was able to nurse him in a sling while walking around. Of course that got harder once he was old enough to get distracted by all the fun going on, but then he also stopped wanting to nurse in public! Now I can only get him to latch on for half a minute to take the edge off his hunger but mostly I have to try to schedule outings around his mealtimes because he really will not eat much while we are out! Solves the problem… in a way….

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