When our oldest daughter was 23 months we were blessed with our second bundle of joy! I would be lying if I said life wasn’t a bit crazy with two under two years old, but my husband was home initially and we managed. After only taking two weeks off of work (I know, I know this is more than many husbands… but also less than some others I’ve spoken to as well) with our firstborn, I was over the moon when my husband said he would take three weeks off when our second child arrived. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated any and all help with our newborn, but I really needed his help for our toddler. Our oldest was/is super sweet and loving but also was rather needy in her own right at 23 months. She loved her new sister but patience wasn’t exactly in her vocabulary at this age.
When our precious little lady #2 was placed in my arms for the very first time, I knew I wanted to give breastfeeding a go once again. However, I also knew that unlike my first journey with breastfeeding, I didn’t have the beauty of being able to sit uninterrupted and allow my baby girl to nurse until her heart or belly was content. This time around, I had a toddler that wanted all the same undivided love and attention she had received (without interruption) her entire life.
The Need for a “Busy/Nursing Bag for Older Siblings”
As the days counted down and my husband was getting closer and closer to returning to work (may I just add, this is one of the worst countdowns of all time to a new mama), I knew I needed to come up with a plan that allowed me to nurse little lady #2, while also occupying little lady #1. I also knew that I didn’t want my oldest daughter to start and resent the time I had to feed my youngest. I had to come up with a plan! While I am a huge advocate for getting outside and allowing kiddos to go wild (and tire themselves out in the process), fall and the impending winter in the Midwest didn’t allow for such a plan. And thus was born my version of the “Busy/Nursing Bag for Older Siblings”!
A few days before my husband returned to work, I made a hurried run to the local dollar store. Any new, nursing mama can tell you exactly how these hurried runs work. Feed your newborn, fly out of the house and complete your errands before little one is ready to eat once again. With that said, I had about one hour (this included travel time) to shop, purchase and design my bag.
The mom in me, told me that I needed a variety of items that would entertain for the greatest amount of time given toddlers have short attention spans. The occupational therapist in me, knew that I wanted items that would help improve cognition, flexible thinking, creativity and fine motor skills. The housewife in me, knew that I wanted to not spend a small fortune creating this bag.
How I Used my “Busy/Nursing Bag for Older Siblings”
I ended up spending just $15 on this sanity-saving bag; however, this can easily cost even less. I purchased a $1.00 bag and filled it with fourteen $1.00 items. With that said, four months have gone by since purchasing this bag and only half of the items have been used! That is right, only SEVEN items! The key for me was to NOT simply hand my daughter the bag with all fourteen items and allow her to go to town. I knew this was way too overstimulating for a youngster and would defeat the purpose.
At the time of nursing, I’d simply insert one new item into the bag and hand it to my daughter. When the nursing session ended, the bag (and corresponding item) went back into the closet until the next time. This same new item would be used for every nursing session until I noticed my daughter starting to grow tired of it. Then I would add another new item to the bag, along with the old one and repeat the process time and time again. I came to notice that after a while, the same three items would occupy her for a sufficient amount of time. The bag was working and I couldn’t have been more pleased!
What I included in my “Busy/Nursing Bag for Older Siblings”
Puzzles, puzzles and more puzzles
The dollar store was the perfect location to find small puzzles for $1.00! While the box ones were initially too difficult for my 23 month old, simply moving around the pieces was enough to entertain her! Over time, I’d have her sit next to me on the couch and while I’d cradle little lady #2 with one arm while she nursed, I could help little lady #1 build the puzzle with the other arm. The foam alphabet puzzle pictured was the BIGGEST success of the entire bag! If you can find this, buy this (trust me)! This entertained my daughter for hundreds of nursing sessions and helped her learn her alphabet at the same time! Double win!
Coloring Books & Drawing Board
Who would have thought that a dollar store would have such fabulous coloring books?! As a mom, if you take nothing else from this post, please take the idea of purchasing coloring books from the dollar store! They are jumbo, relevant with the latest characters and best of all… $1.00! What kiddo doesn’t love dry-erase boards? This was also a score that I haven’t yet even had to use!
Fine Motor Fun
Now that my daughter is over two years old, I feel it is the perfect time to include these in the bag. In fact, Santa brought many similar items that allowed her to lace objects, stack objects and increase her fine motor skills and she LOVES them (I suppose this is what happens when Santa’s elf is an occupational therapist ;)).
Gross Motor Fun
When cold weather keeps you cooped up inside, gross motor games are ideal! This bowling set allows for fun entertainment for your busy toddler!
Looking back, I know we would have survived these first few months without a “Busy/Nursing Bag for Older Siblings”, but I wouldn’t have wanted to. This bag has saved the day time and time again, not only allowing me to nurse little lady #2, but also to provide love, attention, education and joy to little lady #1. And that is what we call “mommy success”!
If you are looking for more ways to keep your toddler entertained while you feed the baby check out this post!