If you are a mother of two or more children then I am sure you have faced this situation where you had to explain breastfeeding to the elder child(ren). When my second child (RD) was born I didn’t know how will I deal with the curious questions of my firstborn (Miss D). My kids are four years apart, so my elder one was grown up enough to ask questions and raise doubts.
She asked me all sorts of questions right from asking about the size of my growing belly to its sudden disappearance. Well, motherhood has its perks!
One fine day, Miss D walked into my room while I was breastfeeding RD. She sat beside me and looked at her little brother latched and cradled in my arms.
“Mumma, what are you doing?”, came her question. I’ll be lying if I said that I was prepared for it. I knew she would want to know whenever she would see me feeding RD. However, how to answer her question satisfactorily without seeding any wrong ideas in her little mind was a little challenging.
She obviously didn’t understand it the first time I answered her question. So, she asked me about breastfeeding a few more times and she got her answer every time. Remember that kids love to ask repetitive questions. Eventually, she stopped asking about it.
How to Explain Breastfeeding to the Elder Child
Even though you are a second time or a third-time parent, it’s a whole new experience for your elder child(ren) with the new baby. Your child will have a million questions and it’s your responsibility to answer them.
Especially when you get hit by an embarrassing question, it becomes all the more important to handle it rather than dismissing it.
You don’t have to give a biology or an anatomy lecture to your kid. Simplify your answer so that your kid begins to understand. Depending upon the age of your elder child, explain breastfeeding bit by bit.
These are a few things that you can say to explain breastfeeding to your elder child:
- “Your little baby is having his food. Baby get his food from here” – Simple, isn’t it? There might be follow up questions too. Answer them patiently.
- “Little baby is hungry and he is having his food which mumma’s body makes for him” – It’s a little tricky to explain why the baby can’t eat food from the kitchen. However, when you tell the same thing everytime the questions pop up, your child will gradually understand.
- “Little babies don’t have teeth. They can’t eat like you and me. So, they get their food from mumma’s body. It keeps them healthy and happy.” – Well, this should satisfy their curiosity for some time. Tell your kid the same thing in different ways and I am sure she’ll understand.
- “Just like you take milk from a glass, the little baby takes his milk from mumma. The doctor said not to give anything else to the baby.” – I am sure there will be more questions followed by this explanation. Make sure you atleast try to answer those questions by rephrasing or simplifying your answer further.
- “You were also a little baby and you were exactly like him. You also took milk from mumma’s body.” – This way you can make your elder child feel that what she is seeing is not new and she has been with her mother just like the new baby. Your elder child will feel more loved and special.
- “Mumma’s body makes milk for her little babies so that they grow up fast and healthy.” – A logical explanation is the right way to go about answering your elder child’s questions about breastfeeding. It will open more avenues for talking and your elder one will feel inclusive.
If your elder child sees you breastfeeding her little sibling, here’s what you should NOT do:
- Don’t ask your child to walk away – Never do that! Not unless your elder is disturbing you in extremes or causing any discomfort to your little one. If your elder one asks about breastfeeding, talk to her gently and try to break down your answer into a very simple language.
- Don’t give a knee-jerk reaction – If your child walks into the room while you are breastfeeding, don’t give a sudden reaction of covering yourself or scolding your child. If you are not comfortable feeding in front of her, gently and politely ask her to come again later.
- Don’t feel awkward – You have fed your elder one too so no need of being embarrassed about it. Your awkwardness will only increase her curiosity. Normalise breastfeeding within your home with your elder kid around. It’s easy to breastfeed while watching TV, helping your elder one in her homework, etc.
I truly hope that it helps and makes you encounter THE question with ease. I would love to know how you dealt with this question. Leave a comment below and share it with me!