Are you REALLY going to breastfeed two children?

So far, people who have asked me what I plan to do with regards to feeding baby number 2 have, subconsciously or not, given me the impression that it’s going to be the most difficult thing in the world, because I am so far planning to breastfeed both Little Girl – who will be 23 months when Little Bean is born – and the new baby. I think it’s the concerned tone of voice (and accompanying look of mild horror) that’s done it. I completely understand why people might be surprised that I’m going to do this. I don’t know anyone who has done it and I have certainly never seen anyone do it, but I have read enough online about tandem feeding to know that it is in fact feasible and not that uncommon.

Little Girl turned 18 months a couple of weeks ago and is still having quite a lot of milk so I am working on the assumption that she’ll still be going for it in six months’ time. She is one greedy little person at the best of times, but I can tell it’s a really special thing for her. Her schedule goes like this:

  • A big feed first thing in the morning to set her up for the day
  • A little bit to help her nap in the afternoon; this is mostly for comfort and to help her relax
  • A small sip before bed, which she doesn’t seem too fussed about but happens to coincide with bedtime songs
  • And finally: whenever she asks for ‘tétée’, which tends to be accompanied by big grins, little happy hops and a greedy hand down the front of my top; how could I say no to all that cuteness?

By the way, that word  ‘tétée’ is not a weird French hybrid for tits, thank you very much, but the actual word for breastfeeding. I’ve learnt to avoid trying to explain this to people, as it’s always a cue for people to laugh and look embarrassed ‘she said tits!’. No, no I didn’t.

The above list may appear heavy going but in reality, it is not the case because Little Girl isn’t remotely living off milk these days. She’s having proper big dinners with us, snacks and is also liberally helping herself to our plates so she is not attached to my breast like a newborn is. We are talking mere minutes, on a bad day maybe 15 minutes maximum. It is not taxing in any way, time-wise or physically. In any case, when milk hormones kick in and what have you and the constitution of the milk evolves with the pregnancy, Little Girl might take a dislike to it and go off breastfeeding altogether. It is quite a common occurrence. We’ll see how it goes when we get there!

I have only two main concerns at this stage about tandem feeding. One is purely logistical: how to hold the newborn on one side whilst the other one takes her sip, that kind of thing. My biggest worry will be getting the new baby to latch well at the beginning, as babies sadly do not come with an inner breastfeeding manual sketched onto their brains. The first six weeks with Little Girl were pretty brutal and painful and I would prefer not to go through that again! Then again, the worst thing that might happen could be this:

Should come with a warning sign: may drown babies

Weaning starts here

Yesterday we started the process of weaning Little Girl. For some reason before we had her I had this picture of breastfeeding her for months and months and months and it didn’t occur to me that she would start on solids quite this soon! She’s going to be 6 months on Monday, when did that happen?

I am starting weaning her in earnest from Monday but yesterday I thought I would see what would happen if I put food in front of her, out of curiosity really. Wonderfully, she reached, picked up and stuffed her mouth with cucumber and cheese and happily sucked on the lot.

She sucked, she made faces, she gagged a bit because she’d put the cucumber too far back and she dropped the lot all over the place. And then she tried again. Today, she also had tomato and really liked it!

For those who are surprised that these should be her first foods, we decided a couple of months ago not to bother with purées and go straight with normal food so she will be eating the same as us. All I need to do is to adjust my recipes by cutting out the salt and to stop using shop-bought sauces and stock. This means I am going to have to learn how to make Puttanesca pasta sauce from scratch! I’ll let you know how that goes…

This approach is called Baby-Led Weaning (or self-feeding) and I will be posting more on this subject as we go on our feeding journey, but for now I leave you with this encouraging image.

Baby-Led Weaning
The first day