When you’re an exclusively pumping mama, or you’re pumping to supplement milk, or for donating, keeping your baby or toddler busy can seem like a monumental task. If you have older children, it may be easier to keep them occupied with their own activities. In this post, I’m sharing six ways to entertain your toddler while pumping your breastmilk. I’m sure that whether you work at home or you’re a stay at home mom, a lot of times we need our toddlers to stay busy while we’re pumping.
I know pumping and keeping your toddler busy can be stressful. Sometimes I’ll pump before my son wakes up and that can be stressful because you’re waiting on him to wake up. So, it’s easier if they’re already busy doing something or you can give them something to do to keep them busy. So, I’m going to share with you six tips to help you entertain your toddler while pumping.
Before you can begin an effective pumping session, it’s important to make sure your flanges fit correctly and you have a double electric breast pump that will pump both breasts at the same time. You can use a manual, or one-sided breast pump, but it will take longer and isn’t quite as efficient. I highly recommend the Spectra Breast Pump for these reasons!
Tip 1: Establish a toddler-friendly playing area.
That way, even if you don’t have a hands-free pumping bra, you can still have them in an area that is safe. That will help them stay entertained and it’s a safe place for them. You can include lots of toys in the area and maybe a new toy in the area that they haven’t played with recently.
Swapping out toys can be a good tactic too. I like to do that with my son. I like to put some of his older toys in a bucket and swap them out with some that he hasn’t played with recently, and that really helps keep him engaged during that time.
Tip 2: Use TV time sparingly, and only when you have to pump.
I really try to limit the amount of screen time that my son has and only use it sparingly. Of course, it’s better for our babies to engage with toys without having to turn on the TV if you can. But, if it can keep them engaged just long enough for a pumping session, I’m all about it. Turn on something that’s engaging and educational that allows you to pump, like a 24-minute show. That’s typically the time shows run, taking out the commercials, of course. That leaves you about 15-20 minutes to pump, and then five minutes for getting all of your pump parts together. And then, of course, taking them apart and cleaning them afterward.
Tip 3: Pump in the car.
This will require a pump adapter for your car and also a hands-free pumping bra. And safety is the number one priority. If you don’t feel safe doing this, don’t do it. But I know lots of moms that do because it is a good time, whether you’re commuting or just need a safe place to keep the babies while you’re pumping and, on your way, someplace. Maybe you can pump on your way to school or daycare, or maybe you’re a mom of a few kids and you’re pumping on the way to soccer practice. Wherever you’re going, this will allow you to have your babies in a safe place in the car with you while pumping, and it keeps them occupied.
So again, you’ll want to purchase a hands-free bra so you can still drive and pump at the same time. And, a car adapter for your pump.
Tip 4: Create a busy box for your baby or toddler to play with.
This means putting special toys or things that really keep them engaged for about 20-25 minutes. So that may mean putting things like their favorite books, color wonder markers, or anything else age-appropriate that they find fascinating.
Maybe it’s puzzles that they really enjoy. Try to find whatever they really, really enjoy and put those activities in that box just for when you’re pumping and only take the box out when you’re pumping and that’ll help keep them engaged during the time that you’re busy.
Tip 5: Pump while everyone’s eating.
Put your baby in their highchair and start pumping! I really like this idea because your baby is in a safe place and you can still engage with them in the same place. Maybe they’re already introduced to solid foods and maybe they’re eating while you’re pumping, while the whole family’s eating, you can kind of adapt this to whatever you need it to be. Or maybe they’re just sitting in their high chair and again, engaged in some sort of game or activity. Singing to them can also be a great way to entertain them while they’re in their highchair. This allows you to pump at the table if you need to use your hands. The hands-free bra will definitely help you in this situation.
Tip 6: Reading books while you pump.
If you have a toddler, they can go get a new book and bring it back to you. It’s always helpful if you have a hands-free bra in this situation too because you’ll likely need your hands to turn the pages unless your baby can do it for you. This can be kind of tricky if they’re sitting on your lap and getting on and off. Of course, you don’t want the milk bottles jostled around, but it is another potential idea for you to be able to entertain your toddler while pumping.
I hope these helped you think of creative ways to keep your babies, toddlers, and older children occupied while pumping. Let me know if you have additional advice for pumping moms- drop your ideas in the comments below!