The Nursing Box – toddler + new baby help

This time last year I was pulling my hair out I had a 2 month old and a 20 month old. My 2 month old was going through growth spurts left, right and centre which as we were breastfeeding and J was dealing with not having my undivided attention and each feed was causing all sorts of problems so we came up with a Nursing Box (OK it was a bag initially but over the months it developed into a box).

ideas for toddler and newbornFrom an idea that my mum had passed on from when she had me and my brother the nursing box is a set of items that can be brought out specifically for the nursing time for a toddler to do when you have a new baby. I know that one of the most popular age gaps is between 1 year and 3 years which is also the most difficult in terms of toddler behaviour and without the understanding of what is going on which older children have specifically nursing can be difficult as unless you master the art (and believe me I tried and it is an art that I haven’t got a clue with) of nursing within a carrier it usually involves sitting down for a length of time which provides you and the baby the perfect target for a toddler attack.

So what’s the in box – well this very much depends on what your child is interested in and their abilities at the time and as your new baby gets older these items can change. There are 3 must be’s for the box though

  1. Can be either done independently by the toddler or needs you not to move – At 18 months J really didn’t do independent play without us starting him off so we included things that I could do one handed – we had a soft ball that we could use inside, cars that used to be driven over the sofa, but as he got older we included things like wooden puzzles that he could do easily and books – lots of books, if the toys included in the box weren’t working we had our special books (his favourites pre T arriving) that were nursing books so the nursing time became a J, T and Mummy time and everyone was involved
  2. Can be set up quickly – play dough ready to go was great for us, I had pots on the side and as soon as T needed feeding I used to get it out on the table and J would go and play with it – we had a box of play dough tools that I only needed to lift the lid and he was good to go
  3. Items that are unique to this time – this was the most important part – we only brought the box out for nursing the rest of the time it was put out of the way and out of sight as well so it could neither be asked for nor be seen to get the “I wants”

Of course this didn’t always work – nothing ever works 100% of the time and our fail safe was TV time, I got hold of his favourite programmes and when it all got too difficult we would sit and cuddle on the sofa watching his favourite programmes. Some days this would be more often the case especially if he was under the weather, teething, tired but the nursing box really helped.

I can’t imagine this is the only way to deal with this problem so what ways did you cope with a toddler and a new baby ?

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Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and now mum. She's passionate about supporting learning at school at home, bringing books alive, giving kids life skills and exploring the world around us sharing Creative, Family Friendly, Fun Ideas for the whole family on Rainy Day Mum


  1. Grandma Joyce says

    I was talking to my daughter, just yesterday, and she mentioned that her midwife had suggested a nursing box. She is due in June with number two (number one being 14 months old at the time) and she is very nervous about the nursing time. Seeing this post on my pinterest board was very timely…thank you! As a Preschool teacher, I’m going to have fun helping my daughter put together a few nursing boxes for our grandson to enjoy! (Great idea, I wish I had thought of it 23 years ago when I had two boys 19 months apart!!)

  2. Lori says

    My toddler loves to sing songs with motions, so we do that a lot while nursing. It’s easy to point to head, shoulders, knees and toes with one hand!

  3. says

    I love the nursing box idea! I often read to my older son while I nursed the little one (once we were nursing smoothly). He would cuddle up on the side opposite the baby and we’d look at books together. This gave him some snuggle time but also kept him in one place!

  4. Eryn says

    I’m currently still pregnant but my son is 19 months and we’re already prepping. When we started trying for a second I bought him a soft baby doll from Ikea. It wasn’t a big deal of go to the store ok pick your baby kind of thing. We were just out and I took him to the baby dolls and let him pick one out. Ironicly, the baby doll caused a bit of a stir for multiple reasons within our extended family but that’s another story. It was just like another toy to him. He loved it for a few weeks and then got over it. We still bring it out and talk about it and how you have to be so gentle with babies. The next step was a few weeks ago when buying a couple of our “Daddy” bottles (for daddy to feed when mommy can’t) we grabbed our son a cheap one for him to play with. He carries it around a lot actually. He chews on it and plays with it but what we were looking to do was introduce bottles before the new baby came so that the new baby wasn’t getting something he didn’t already have. Now that the bottle is less interesting we’ve started asking if he want’s to feed the baby doll every once in a while. He does sometimes and not others. He understands that it goes on the babies mouth and it’s for eating. For the most part we try to get everything new into our home early so the changes aren’t because of the new baby and the baby isn’t getting new stuff that he can’t have (which seems totally unfair in the eyes of a 19 month old.) :) Planning planning planning. We intend to make nursing time a special time for our son. That’s when he gets to do his favorite things like color or open the new toy he got earlier in the day. The nursing box will be a great addition to our plan. 😀 Thanks for the tip!

  5. Audrey says

    My new baby cried all evening every evening, but my 18 month old required her tea in her high chair bang on time. I employed a healthy teenager who lived nearby who used to stand and bounce the baby up and down while watching tv. Thus I was able to give the older baby an uninterrupted tea time! A workout for the neighbour! Sanity for me. Sometimes you just need some help. We had a lot of interrupted nights too and my husband ended up often sleeping in the children’s bed. If I could go back in time, I would dispense with our bed frame and have two mattresses at floor level so people could come and go without anyone having to leave. My second baby used to bring her feed up a lot very violently. If I could go back in time, I would invest in a couple of easy wash housecoats to wear indoors to save all the washing of my clothes. I found Penelope Leach’s book was very good when it came to understanding behaviour .. apart from her idea that a new baby could be coaxed into a routine sleep. The pie chart had so many mini segments I quickly gave up on that idea. Another idea I hated was training them to stay in bed by putting them back in the room. My two year old was standing with heart breaking stifled sobs behind the door after being put back in bed and mum being boring treatment. I feel it is cruel and never did it again. I always cuddled them to sleep when they were little if they wanted me to and do not regret it. Those times do not return. My little girls used to like pretend cooking, where I gave them various ingredients that could be eaten raw and I gave them a table at their height with lots of mini bowls and spoons, and they mixed them together, eg raisins, ground almonds, brown sugar. Another thing I was pleased about was when relatives sent money for their birthdays, I put it in a post office account rather than buy more toys. The youngest daughter was able to pay for air fare to Disneyworld with a friend with her money when she was 14. I’ve also kept all their books in the loft ready for the grandchildren. My daughters shared a room. They did not want to move as they liked our garden. A teacher friend advised sharing a room is ok as long as they have a part of it that belongs just to them. The private shelves worked very well. My daughters still love sharing a bedroom with one another and are great friends. This is despite one being tidy and one being very untidy!