World Breastfeeding Week: Entertaining older children whilst feeding a baby

Most parents feed their baby; whether they choose to do so through exclusive breastfeeding, combination feeding, bottle feeding expressed breast milk or exclusively formula feeding - I'm continuing to blog around a baby feeding theme this week to honour World Breastfeeding Week, but these suggestions could be equally useful for bottle feeding parents as for breastfeeding parents so however your baby is nourished - this isn't necessarily an exclusively breastfeeding related post.
 
Seb has adjusted really well to his sister's arrival, but I do feel guilty when I'm feeding her, and can't immediately fix his broken Lego fire engine, or draw whatever animal he is demanding I draw (nine times out of ten, a lion). Quinn actually doesn't feed incredibly often, compared to a lot of breastfed babies, and it's pretty typical for her to leave around four hours in between feeds, but when she is feeding, you just know Seb will have something really important to show me in another room, or he'll want a milkshake, or to put the radio on.
 
There are a few pretty obvious distractions and don't get me wrong - they work, and they will win you time to feed your baby in peace before you can return to entertaining your older children, there is
nothing wrong with using them, I'm thinking;
 
  • The TV, whether it's live, a DVD or an iPlayer binge.
  • The CBeebies app on your phone or anything with a similar capacity to chew through all of the storage on your mobile and play very annoying sounds - OK, maybe not feeding your baby in peace.
  • Other computer devises. Seb has a Nintendo DS which can typically occupy him for half an hour ish. 
Basically - technology probably is your friend in this scenario and as long as kids aren't glued to a screen from the minute they wake until they're put to bed for the night - I don't see the harm in the odd thirty minutes of Octonauts here and there.
 
However, if you want to go full anti-tech with your feeding time entertainment programme, here are five other ideas that may be worth holding on to for when watching Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey again just seems too much.
 
Just to clarify; Homeward Bound is an awesome movie and there is arguably no limit to the number of times you can watch it, ("Oh, Shadow!")
  • Treasure Hunts - if you're super organised, then you can hide treasure around your house and garden in between feeds, and then let the hunt commence once baby is busy. It can be quite difficult to do this without children noticing where you're hiding things though - but give it a go. You could hide chocolate (think about melt-age) or hide pieces of Lego or another construction toy and ask the child(ren) to build you something cool once they've found them all. If you can't be arsed to hide stuff, or you don't have the time or opportunity, then make a tick sheet with several different colours listed (just colour a square in each colour if your children are too young to read) and give them a basket - ask them to find five things, small enough to fit in the basket, of each colour around the house and garden. If you're feeding outdoors, or have a safe, enclosed garden, bug hunts are another alternative on this theme - just be prepared for your little angel to come in and wave an earthworm under your nose whilst you're pinned beneath the feeding baby!
  • Reverse Treasure Hunts - As much as he enjoys searching for hidden treasure, Seb really enjoys hiding treasure as well, which is a good option if you don't have time or opportunity to do the hiding yourself. Keep a small basket of treasure somewhere ready to be hidden, it doesn't have to be edible, or a toy: a collection of pine cones works well, and when baby starts feeding, ask your child(ren) to hide the treasure around the house and garden and draw you a map to help you find it once baby has finished.
  • Put on a Show - When baby is sleeping, have fun making puppets with your child(ren). You don't need to buy lots of expensive materials - use old clothes that are no good for the charity shop, and junk modelling materials from your recycling bin, or even old socks and readily available craft supplies such as pom poms and googly eyes. Next time baby is feeding, get the child(ren) to go in to another room to come up with and rehearse a puppet show (this can amuse one child or four children in equal measure) - then when they're ready, they can come in and perform their latest masterpiece to you and the baby (if you're unable to clap, remember to be particularly gushy with your praise!)
  • Colouring - It sounds obvious, but if you're expecting, or have recently given birth to, a new baby, invest in a very large stash of colouring books, dot-to-dot, sticker albums and the like. These are far more stimulating than television - and quieter - and when you can't think of anything else to distract the kids, you'll always have these to fall back on.
  • Photography - Ok, so it's vaguely tech based, but getting children interested in photography from a young age is a great way to encourage their creativity, and seems to better suit more active children, for whom sitting down to draw or colour pictures loses it's appeal after a couple of minutes. You can get a cheap digital camera from the likes of Argos for less than £20.00 and whilst it's not going to win you any gallery exhibitions any time soon, it'll do for small children. Ask the children to go off in to the house and garden and take a photograph on a particular theme, when they come back and show you their picture, send them off on their next photography mission. Themes could be as simple as "something green", "something shiny" or "something fluffy", or you could allow for greater interpretation, with themes such as "something that makes me smile" or "something that is special to me." There's no limit to the number of times you can send them away with a new photography assignment.
 
If all of the above fails miserable, I find that food works well!
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