You are at the right place.
I tandem nursed my toddler through pregnancy, nursing aversion, labor and beyond. I believe you can too IF that is what is right for your nursling(s) and yourself.
I want to help you understand what tandem nursing is and some of the benefits, by sharing my journey with you. I have also included articles and resources that will help you on your tandem nursing journey.
1. This post is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of my tandem nursing book.
2. Tandem nursing, tandem breastfeeding, or tandem feeding basically means the same thing.
Now let’s continue!
What is Tandem Nursing?
Tandem nursing, or Tandem Breastfeeding, is when a mother breastfeeds more than one child at a time. Usually, people associate tandem nursing with a mother nursing twins.
My tandem nursing journey started when my first daughter was about a year old. I knew she wasn’t ready to stop nursing and we wanted to get pregnant with our second child close to her in age. I did my research and what I found only confirmed what I felt was right for us in my heart.
Tandem nursing is one of the hardest things and also one of the most rewarding, not unlike motherhood.
Is tandem nursing normal?
It is the way our bodies were designed to feed our young.
As you know, everything a baby needs that first year is in breast milk and the benefits don’t stop after they turn one. The release of beneficial hormones like oxytocin helps calm toddler tantrums, relax and grounds your child, as well as pass antibodies specific to what their body needs.
There have not been significant studies done on toddlers over the age of two, but we do know that mother’s milk is an awesome source for nutrition and prevention of disease for as long as mother and child continue.
The worldwide breastfeeding ages range between the ages of one and seven years old, which is typically when they lose their milk teeth.
The worldwide average of breastfeeding is 4.2 years.
I know hearing those ages might be intimidating. But just like any journey, you take it one day at a time as long as it is beneficial to both of you. Follow their lead.
In the same way, if you want to stop because it is for the good of your health, that’s your choice and no one can make that decision but you. There is no shame in saying enough is enough.
“Human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for >1 year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods.
During prolonged lactation, the fat energy contribution of breast milk to the infant diet might be significant.” – Mandel 2005.
I experienced this first hand.
My second child was much more chunky than my first.
I thought this was because I must have had a higher fat content in the milk I produced, and it seems that’s what it was. I was worried and had so many questions like most moms new to tandem feeding.
Not to mention the other voices in the room wondering if baby was going to get enough milk if I was nursing both of my children. I get more into that though in Chapter Six of my tandem nursing book.
In the second year (12-23 months), 448 mL of breast milk provides:
29% of energy requirements
43% of protein requirements
36% of calcium requirements
75% of vitamin A requirements
76% of folate requirements
94% of vitamin B12 requirements
60% of vitamin C requirements
– Dewey 2001
These facts can be comforting if you have a toddler who is a picky eater for sure. We always want to make sure our children are getting everything they need to grow strong and healthy.
Giving your children the benefits that breast milk has to offer helps you rest assured that they are getting everything they need.
“Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins.” – Dewey 2001
I know for myself how hard it can be finding and being able to afford vitamins that don’t have sugar, sugar substitutes that can be harmful, genetically modified ingredients, fillers, or synthetic materials.
And of course, those that appeal to your toddler’s taste and texture preference.
As moms, we tend to over think a lot and that isn’t always a bad thing.
In fact, I think it protects our children in a lot of circumstances.
Tandem nursing helps continue the benefits that your milk has for your toddler, as well as your new baby. The benefits to continue nursing your toddler doesn’t stop at just nutrition.
As I mentioned before, full-term breastfeeding is helpful for a child’s cognitive development. There are many studies out there that associate breastfeeding with higher intellectual skills and better grades.
Elizabeth N. Baldwin talks about this:
Breastfeeding is a warm and loving way to meet the needs of toddlers and young children. It not only perks them up and energizes them; it also soothes the frustrations, bumps and bruises, and daily stresses of early childhood.
In addition, nursing past infancy helps little ones make a gradual transition to childhood…Meeting a child’s dependency needs is the key to helping that child achieve independence.
And children outgrow these needs according to their own unique timetable. Children who achieve independence at their own pace are more secure in that independence then children forced into independence prematurely. (Mothering. 1993)
It is important to note that Baldwin talks about helping the child achieve independence.
Most of the women I talked to said they were told that continuing to breastfeed their child would make them not be as independent as other children. This does not seem to be the case at all.
The benefits for your older nursing child do not stop there. There are also many benefits of extended breastfeeding for mama as well.
Benefits to mom include: less chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer, lesser chance of postmenopausal osteoporosis, quicker healing from birth, more calories burned from nursing, the hormone high and connectedness which your children among many others.
10 Benefits of Tandem Nursing
1. Helping your child adjust to the new baby and not feel jealous.
Tandem nursing helps alleviate the stressful feelings that introducing another child brings. I won’t tell you this is a magic cure because all children will react differently.
I can only speak from my experience and those I have talked to that said tandem nursing helped make the transition easier by creating a special bond between siblings.
2. Still being able to calm down your older child quickly and help them to feel not left out.
You have the ability to be meeting both your children’s needs at the same time, which reduces the stress on you.
3. The cognitive and psychological benefits as mentioned before helping your child become more independent and feel secure.
4. Encourages the security of independence as mentioned before.
5. Health benefits to all involved.
6. Not abruptly weaning your older child before they are ready.
7. The connection.
8. Sometimes the bond between siblings can be stronger if they both are nursing together. All children are unique and tandem nursing is not a one size fits all.
9. It is gratifying knowing you nursed your child to term. Having that feeling of I did it!
10. Older child can help relieve engorgement.
If the baby chokes because of the fast flow of milk, the older child can nurse to lessen the flow.
I am very glad I decided to tandem nurse my toddler and newborn. I hope this post helped you gain a better understanding of tandem nursing.
It hasn’t been all roses and sunshine. But I made it through my first year of tandem nursing. And I am happy I did it.
More Tandem Nursing Articles
Below are links to more tandem nursing blog posts to help you on your tandem nursing journey.
2. Tandem nursing while pregnant and some of the challenges you might face
P.S. If you have not read my tandem nursing book yet, pick up your copy to read today.