What is the best way to explain breastfeeding to small children?

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bluekitty8


I have a seven year old son and a three year old daughter and I would like some advice on how to explain to them about breastfeeding their six day old brother. They have both been asking questions about what I am doing when I feed him and why I am doing it that way rather then like their aunts (who booth have three month old babies that get formula). I didn't breasfeed either one of them because I had to go back to work right away, which I know now is a stupid reason, but I am now a stay at home mom who is breastfeeding and I don't want to hide in my room or whatever every time I need to feed my youngest but I don't know what to tell them other then that when mommy's have baby's they make milk and that the milk that they make is the best food for the new baby. I know that they are at different levels of comprehension, I just want them to be comfortable with the way that mommy feeds their little brother.


Answer
You know, that's a good explanation. I mean, if you want to be technical you could explain how humans are mammals and point out all sorts of things, but I don't think a three year old and seven year old would get that.

To be honest, if you don't feel like you're being inappropriate about such things, you might simply show them how a baby feeds. I'm not going so far as to suggest letting them try now that they're too old, but this is a perfectly natural process you are supposed to go through. Get a bottle and their little brother, while he's in a good mood, and have them spend a little time playing with him, and talk to them as you cuddle and play with baby, and ask them if they see how he doesn't have teeth to chew things like they do, and can't pick himself up or anything, and needs other people to be very gentle and hold him and take care of him because he's so little.

Then, tell them that in nature, a lot of mommies, like doggie and cat mommies (and you don't have to go far to find one of those in the middle of nursing, either in a nature special or in real life), have special parts on them to make food for little babies so mommies can feed them when they're that small, made just for babies... and that people are just like that, too. Show them the bottle and explain to them how we have to take milk and put it in a bottle that's made to imitate the natural way mommies feed babies, so we can make sure babies can eat when mommies might not be able to feed them, but since you're here, you don't need a bottle to feed him because you can do it yourself just like mommies are supposed to do for little babies until they get big and strong enough to feed themselves, just like you're so proud your other son and daughter can do (being proud of them for being able to feed themselves makes them feel good for growing up and being big boys and girls, so they don't have to feel bad you don't feed them that way any more).

I don't see any reason, after that, to make them leave, or hide from them, if you're feeding your youngest son. Not to sound crude, but your breasts weren't made for your husband's amusement (even if that's often what they're used for). They were made to feed your infant children, and in that regard there is no reason you should feel the need to be ashamed or hide doing that. It's not only natural, it's an integral part of being a good parent, and I can't think of a reason that isn't, in the end, counterproductive to hide your need to be a good mother.

The only thing spurning their curiosity is going to do is either make them more curious, or make them feel ashamed of themselves. The easiest way to make them comfortable with the idea that mommy feeds their little brother that way, for the time being, is to simply be comfortable feeding him while they're there. Children do look to mommy and daddy for a lot of guidance, and take their cues from them on how they should often feel about situations. If you feel happy and contented with what you are doing, chances are they'll feel that way, too.

Once they understand what's going on, they'll generally ignore the activity in favor of something more interesting, or at worst want to join in taking care of the baby... and you can certainly find age appropriate things for them to do in that regard to help them bond with their younger brother and not go through the standard "he's taking all the attention away from me" phase.

It's a great segue into what families are about, how mommies and daddies each do different things to help take care of everyone (because this is also a very good way to help your children understand that daddy doesn't love them any less than you do or care for them any less because he leaves... it's exactly because he loves them so much he goes to work when he might really like to stay home and play with them, because he needs to make sure they have a nice house, and all the toys they want to play with, and all the food they need to eat, etc), and how they are important as brothers and sisters.



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