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Is It Possible to Breastfeed Both an Infant and a Toddler?

The common term (in the USA) for breastfeeding siblings concurrently is "tandem nursing." Mothers have practiced tandem nursing for centuries, and today there are still many families with nursing toddlers who do not wean when their mother becomes pregnant, or who resume breastfeeding after the birth of a new sibling (see also the FAQ on breastfeeding during pregnancy).

Some mothers express concern that their toddler may be taking milk meant to nourish their baby. These mothers may take comfort in the fact that breasts are marvelous things that can adjust their production to meet the demands placed upon them--if they are asked to produce enough milk for two, they usually can! Also, most toddlers breastfeed considerably less frequently than an infant, and get most of their nutrition from other foods.

Many mothers find that children who tandem nurse are closer with each other than children who do not.

It is normal even for mothers who choose to tandem nurse to sometimes wish they weren't so tied down to two babies or to want to breastfeed only one baby at a time.

It is often the case that a baby or toddler will want to breastfeed much more often when a younger sibling is born. Many want to breastfeed every time the baby does. Many mothers suggest allowing this for a period of perhaps three weeks. After that time, try telling the older child that you prefer to be able to really pay attention to him/her while breastfeeding, and request that he/she wait until the baby is done before he/she breastfeeds. This will not eliminate the constant double-nursing, but may very well cut it down.

Enjoy both your babies!

Many mothers have found that tandem nursing is a good way of meeting the needs of both children. Your local LLL Leader can give you more information on tandem nursing.

Resources for Additional Information

Mothers' stories about breastfeeding while pregnant and tandem breastfeeding.

These items may be available from the LLLI Online Store or through your local Leader:

Author Hilary Flower draws on both research-based information and anecdotes from experienced mothers to provide insight and guidance for mothers. She captures both the joy and the ambivalence of this adventure in mothering. Includes all new illustrations by Beth Hannon and photos generously donated from dozens of breastfeeding mothers. (softcover, 325 pages.)

THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING, published by LLLI, is the most complete resource available for the breastfeeding mother. (softcover, 465 pages.)

Breastfeeding through Pregnancy and Beyond: A wonderful booklet to help a mother decide whether or not she will continue nursing an older baby through her pregnancy. With information about technique, solutions to potential problems, and a discussion on weaning. By the Nursing Mothers' Association of Australia. 27 pages

MOTHERING YOUR NURSING TODDLER, revised edition, by Norma Jane Bumgarner: The classic handbook for mothers who breastfeed their children past infancy in an updated and expanded edition. Norma Jane Bumgarner puts the experience of nursing an older baby or child in perspective, within the context of the entire mother-child relationship. She cites biological, cultural, and historical evidence in support of extended breastfeeding and shares stories gleaned from thousands of families for whom breastfeeding and natural weaning have been the norm. Softcover, 305 pages.

Our FAQs present information from La Leche League International on topics of interest to parents of breastfed children. Not all of the information may be pertinent to your family's lifestyle. This information is general in nature and not intended to be advice, medical or otherwise. If you have a serious breastfeeding problem or concern, you are strongly encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader. Please consult health care professionals on any medical issue, as La Leche League Leaders are not medical practitioners.

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