Juggling multiple children when you need to pump can be challenging! Here are some tips to help you manage older siblings while pumping breast milk.
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I asked our Facebook group of exclusive pumpers what their best tips were for managing their older children when pumping. (Related: Tips for Entertaining Baby While You Pump) Here are their five best pumping-with-kids hacks.
5 Ways to Entertain Your Older Children While Pumping Breast Milk
1. Pump while driving
The number one tip that exclusive pumpers with multiple children had was to pump while you’re driving.
This makes a lot of sense – if you have a baby and a young toddler, having everyone restrained in their carseat makes getting a pumping session in a lot easier.
Additionally, if your children are older, it’s likely that you are frequently taking them to activities, sports practices, and playdates, so being able to multitask and pump when you’re taking care of that stuff can be really useful.
Not sure how to pump and drive? To do it, you hook yourself up to pump with a hands-free pumping bra, fasten your seatbelt, turn your pump on, and start driving. If you need to do anything at all with your pump – adjust the suction, check or change the bottles, turn it off – make sure to pull over before doing it. Safety is the most important thing.
2. Make a busy box
One way to keep an older child occupied while you pump is to put together a “busy box” of toys that they can play with. The best way to make sure it keeps their attention is to make the box something special that only comes out when you pump. This way, it’s something they look forward to, and they don’t get bored of before it’s time to put it away.
What should you put in the box? It depends on how old your child is and what they are interested in, but ideally you want toys that your child can play with independently for 15-20 minutes. I used a lot of toys from this list for the one I put together for my 3 year old, but our favorites were Water Wows and the Design and Drill.
3. Pump while everyone is eating at the table
Another way to keep everyone occupied while you pump breast milk is to pump while your children are eating a meal. This way, they are sitting in one place and busy focusing on their food, and you can get 15-20 minutes of peace to pump.
A few tips to make this successful:
- Put everything your kids might want more of within your reach at the table so you don’t have to get up and stop pumping – you can put water in a pitcher on the table along with the milk carton and a pot/plate in case they want seconds.
- If you’re going to be eating, too, a you’ll obviously need a hands-free pumping bra
- Even if your baby isn’t eating solid foods yet, you might want to see if he or she can sit with you at the dinner table in a high chair if you have one that reclines. If your baby is a newborn, than putting him next to you in a swing or bouncy seat might be best.
4. Limit TV/screen time to pumping time
Another option is to use screens to distract your kids. The best way to make this effective is to limit TV to when you really need it, i.e., when it’s time to pump.
I did this when I had a toddler and a newborn, and what I did was put on one 24 minute show when I needed them occupied to pump. That gave me enough time to set up, pump for 15-18 minutes, and get the milk put away before we moved onto the next thing.
5. Read a book with your child while you pump
If your child likes reading books and can be occupied by books for the length of your pumping session, try making pumping time a special reading time for the two of you. Your child can be in charge of picking out the book and running to get another book when you finish one.
Other Tips for Managing Older Siblings while Breastfeeding and Pumping
A few other pumping hacks that experienced moms had for pumping with older children around:
- Ask them if they need anything before you sit down, and then try to set a boundary that you don’t get up to get things for them while you’re pumping.
- They are bound to be curious about what you’re doing, so explain to them how the pump works as best you can. Point out the different parts, show them how they work, and emphasize how important it is for everything to stay in place and not get pulled or moved.
- Give them a job. Toddlers and preschoolers love to help, so you can try involving them in the process. Their job could be anything from pressing the “On” button on the pump to getting your pump parts for you to putting the bottles away in the fridge.
Hopefully these tips help you with pumping with older children around! Let us know any other tricks that you have in the comments!