Have you ever wondered what tandem nursing a newborn and toddler is like? Perhaps you’re pregnant while still breastfeeding, and you’re not sure what to do. You wonder, “Is it possible to keep nursing my older child? Will I need to wean before the baby comes?”

That’s what I’m here to help you with. Twice I nursed a toddler and newborn simultaneously, and three times I nursed while pregnant. So I have lots of experience with tandem nursing.

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Read on to learn more about what tandem breastfeeding is like and to see whether nursing a newborn and a toddler or preschooler is right for you and your family.

What is tandem breastfeeding?

Tandem breastfeeding, or tandem nursing, is simply breastfeeding two children simultaneously.

I breastfed a newborn and toddler at the same time, but if a mother chooses to breastfeed twins, that’s another example of tandem nursing.

Some people may also consider breastfeeding during pregnancy a form of tandem nursing. I have a whole post on my experience with breastfeeding through pregnancy as well.

RELATED: Breastfeeding during pregnancy – what you need to know

Tandem nursing a newborn and toddler: My experience

I got pregnant with my second daughter when my oldest little girl was only about 14 months old. I knew that the World Health Organization recommends nursing for two years or beyond, and we were both still enjoying our breastfeeding relationship. So I chose to continue nursing her through pregnancy.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read my full policy here.

After my second baby was born, I tandem nursed my newborn and toddler. It was a really sweet experience that allowed them to bond.

And later when my third was born I tandem fed again, but this time my second was the older nursling. Usually, I only nursed one child at a time, but there were occasions where I nursed them both at once. I love those memories.

What you need to know about tandem feeding a newborn and toddler

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about tandem nursing a toddler and newborn together, and it’s often seen as strange. But tandem nursing can actually be great for both your children! Here’s everything you need to know to tandem feeding two different ages.

Tandem nursing pros

1. Tandem nursing won’t “steal” milk from your baby.

The biggest concern people usually have about tandem feeding is that the younger nursling won’t get enough milk. People would often ask me, “How do you know your newborn won’t be hungry?”

It might be a good idea to make sure your newborn gets to nurse first during those early days when you only have colostrum. Colostrum is produced at a very low volume, so you want to make sure the baby gets first dibs (this is easier during the first few days if you’re in the hospital).

RELATED: Will I still make colostrum if I’m nursing my toddler?

Once your mature milk comes in (2-5ish days after birth), breastfeeding works off of supply and demand. The more your breasts are drained, the more milk they will produce. So there’s no problem nursing two children as long as you’re staying well hydrated and fed.

Some people suggest that you always let your newborn nurse first even after your mature milk comes in, but you don’t have to. For one thing, if your supply is robust it shouldn’t be a problem, but beyond that, the milk from the end of a nursing session (the hindmilk) tends to be fattier than the first milk. So if your baby nurses after your toddler, they will get richer milk that way.

mother tandem feeding toddler and newborn

Other people suggest you assign one breast to each child (like, the newborn always get the left and the toddler always gets the right or vice-versa). There’s no need to do that either. Trust me, they’re swapping plenty of germs as it is, and I would be afraid that having a breast assigned to each kid would cause them to end up lopsided (even more so than they already become after breastfeeding).

Fair warning: It’s possible that your older nursling becomes enamored with your newly bountiful breastmilk supply, and they may even gain a little extra weight. If so, no worries. Your toddler will slow down on nursing after a few months and everything will level out.

With that said, be really aware of how much you’re eating and drinking. You need at least 2-3 liters of water a day (this bottle will help you keep up), and at least 500 extra calories per day, likely more, to keep up with two nurslings.

RELATED: Must-haves for the fourth trimester

2. Tandem nursing can help your toddler cope with a new sibling.

Adding a new baby into the mix is always difficult, but it can bring up some really big feelings for your toddler, who may feel left out or even replaced. Allowing your toddler to continue nursing can give your older child some special time with you, and it gives them something in common with the new baby: They both like the milkies!

With that said, you will likely need to set some gentle boundaries with your older nursling. Especially at the beginning, your toddler will probably want to nurse almost every single time the new baby does. You can guess how overwhelming that can become.

Some moms are okay with nursing both kids simultaneously, but it’s too much for others. If that’s you, it’s fine to tell your toddler to wait their turn for the na-nas.

RELATED: Why taking turns works better than sharing

And if your toddler becomes upset, that’s okay too. Just be empathetic and talk them through their feelings and suggest a fun alternative activity. “I know you want milkies right now. You are sad you have to wait. The baby is going to finish getting milkies, and then it’s your turn to get milkies. Do you want to give your doll milkies while you wait?”

RELATED: 6 steps to calm tantrums

3. Tandem nursing can help you avoid a clogged duct or mastitis.

It actually can be helpful to have a nursing toddler on days where you’re feeling a bit engorged. They can take care of that problem much quicker and easier than a newborn could.

Your toddler’s ability to take the edge off of engorgement can be really helpful (especially in those first few days after birth when your milk comes in). In fact, this can actually help your newborn latch easier, as too-full breasts are sometimes too firm and large for them to get in their tiny mouth. If this is the case, let your toddler nurse just long enough to get milk flowing, and then switch over to your newborn.

RELATED: Engorgement relief for the first week breastfeeding

And if you feel that you are getting a clogged duct, a toddler’s stronger suction can help you clear it out easier than your newborn. Just let your little one lie on her back while you are in table position with your breasts above her. This position, while awkward, will let gravity help her get the clog out.

4. Tandem nursing can be a fantastic way to get both kids asleep simultaneously

My husband often works until 8 or 9 at night, so I have to do many nights alone. That was okay with one child, but once we had two kids, I was so stressed by this situation. I couldn’t keep my toddler quiet while getting my baby to sleep, and it was such a struggle (if this is you, I promise it gets easier as everyone gets a little older. In the meantime, this freebie can help you calm down your own frazzled feelings).

With that said, there were a few times that I used tandem nursing at night to get them both to sleep. I had my baby propped on top of me in a laid-back position on one breast, and I was lying slightly on my side so that my toddler could get to the other.

Once they had both fallen asleep, I gently rolled the baby off of me and managed to crawl out of bed. This picture shows my crowning achievement. The space between them is where I was wedged between them.

newborn and infant sleeping after tandem nursing

When my husband got home, I let him make the transfer from bed to crib. Until then, I just hung out in my daughter’s room, watching to make sure they were both okay.

With that said, you shouldn’t let your infant and your toddler sleep together unless you’re present and awake. Anyone who has slept with a toddler knows how they can flail around all night, and that can be unsafe for your younger baby.

RELATED: How to co-sleep safely

RELATED: Best non-toxic toddler mattresses

And if you choose to keep your baby in bed with you, consider getting a non-toxic mattress to protect them.

RELATED: Best non-toxic mattresses for bed sharing

5. Really sweet moments can happen while your children are both breastfeeding.

There are some precious moments I remember from tandem nursing my children. There were times when my toddler would hold the baby’s hand.

Occasionally, my toddler would rub the little one’s back as they nursed.

Tandem breastfeeding cons

While there’s a lot of really great advantages to tandem nursing a toddler and newborn, there can be some difficult parts.

Fortunately, there’s some solutions to help.

Your toddler might want to nurse constantly.

When your milk first comes in for your newborn, your toddler may be really excited about it and want more of this new milk (that tastes much better than colostrum or the saltier milk you make when pregnant). In fact, some toddlers start nursing so much that they fill out some (Note: It’s not a problem).

RELATED: Breastfeeding a 1 year old

With that said, you might need a break sometimes (and there’s nothing wrong with that). If that’s the case, make sure you grab my FREE cheat sheet called Setting Gentle Breastfeeding Limits.

Your two kids might be jealous and fight over the milkies.

While tandem nursing is often a beautiful bonding experience for your kids, it isn’t always sweet and cuddly.

When my oldest two were both nursing, sometimes one daughter wanted to stake a claim on mom and the na-nas. She would shove the other’s face away while nursing. And spoiler alert: It’s not always the older child who is the aggressor as your infant gets older!

Just be aware that this can happen (and help your child express their desire in a more constructive way in the future).

Tandem nursing can cause nursing aversion with your oldest child, but (usually) not the youngest.

Often when my oldest nursed (especially when I was tired, which was basically always), I would feel really annoyed. It’s like my skin was crawling and it was driving me insane. But I didn’t have this problem with the baby.

Long story short? I had nursing agitation. I have a whole post about this journey too (including ideas to alleviate NA if it’s happening to you!).

What I can tell you is this: Nursing aversion doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom or that you don’t love your older child. It is just an effect of hormones and exhaustion. Listen to your body. Staying hydrated and getting plenty of rest (read: don’t go to bed late!) will make a BIG difference, as will this supplement.

RELATED: Nursing aversion (or when breastfeeding isn’t magical)

One other note: Nursing aversion is often related to your cycle and is worst in the days leading up to your period. Be extra gentle with yourself during those days.

And if you try tandem nursing and find out that it’s simply not for you, that’s okay. I have tips for weaning your older baby or toddler here.

My final thoughts: Would I recommend tandem feeding a newborn and toddler?

Absolutely! In fact, I did so twice. We found out the day after my second child’s first birthday that I was pregnant (again), so I once again nursed through pregnancy before breastfeeding two children at once.

I love the fact that I was able to bookend my younger daughter’s nursing experience with each of her siblings. Letting them share such special time together has also allowed them to bond.

In a very tangible way, tandem nursing shows my children that even with a new sibling, there’s still enough of mommy to go around.

Are you or someone you know tandem nursing or nursing while pregnant? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments. And if you want help setting some gentle breastfeeding boundaries with your older nursling, make sure to grab my free Setting Gentle Breastfeeding Limits cheat sheet.