Tandem breastfeeding is the term used to describe a nursing relationship that involves feeding more than one of your children at the same time.
When we say “tandem feeding” we are usually referring to two siblings that are of different ages rather than feeding twins or triplets, for example.
Tandem breastfeeding may sound like hard work to a lot of people but for a lot of families it is a great source of joy -particularly at a time where the arrival of a new baby may be very unsettling for a child who has been nursing before and during your pregnancy.
Here are 10 interesting facts about tandem breastfeeding.
- Many healthcare providers will recommend that you feed the “baby” first. That is because breast milk is their sole source of nutrition and calories. This is especially true when the baby first comes along.
- In some cases, women will feed both children at the same time making it a special bonding experience between siblings. However, in other cases the older child may want some kind of exclusive feed and they do not want to “share”.
- Many women who plan to tandem feed end up weaning the older child from the breast during pregnancy, often by accident. In some cases, it is due to their tender nipples during the pregnancy and in other cases the child simply weans, perhaps due to a change in the breasts or milk composition. For this reason, it is often difficult to “plan” to tandem feed.
- When tandem feeding the “supply and demand” rule still stands. Your breasts will produce enough milk for both children.
- The older child is likely to feed considerably less as they will be getting nutrition and calories from food sources.
- Tandem nursing can help relieve engorgement for a mother who is breastfeeding a newborn. It can also help manage a fast let down before she feeds the baby.
- The composition of milk may change during your pregnancy due to the hormone progesterone. Colostrum should still be formed in the lead up to the baby’s birth and colostrum makes up some of your baby’s most important feeds. It lines the gut, helps them pass meconium and transfers important antibodies to them.
- It is not for everyone and that is OK. Some mothers simply feel that tandem feeding becomes too much and they have to consider gently weaning the toddler when the baby comes along. Many women find a “not now, but later” approach to be a good gateway into weaning. You haven’t failed if it becomes too much. Remember the older child is feeding for comfort and the baby is feeding due to their nutritional needs.
- There are no major hygiene concerns as the children are living in such close proximity anyway. The mother does not have to go to any extra lengths once she is bathing or showering regularly.
- If thrush is present (you may notice white spots in your baby’s mouth) all nursing children should be treated for the infection as it can spread via the nipples.