Q. When I breast-feed my newborn, my 2-year-old son interferes. He doesn't understand why she gets to be close to me, and he wants attention. How can I get him to be a help in the process?
A. First, don't expect your child to "act his age," says Jacqueline Levine, a lactation counselor from East Rockaway. "You can't push away the child, or you will stimulate the very behavior you want to change."
Second, if you prepared the child before the birth by saying you would be nursing, remind him that this is how the baby eats. If you hadn't brought up nursing before the baby's birth, explain it to him now.
Next, include him in the breast-feeding routine. He can help get the baby ready. And make sure he has snacks and a drink so he can eat while the baby is eating.
You also could set up a special toy chest he gets to delve into only while the baby is nursing, to make that time special for him as well.
Demystify the process by expressing some milk in front of him so he knows what the baby is drinking, Levine suggests; you can put some on your finger and let him taste it.
"Once you demystify the whole process, it will be easier to redirect the older child," Levine says. "It's a process."
Carve out cuddle time with your 2-year-old while the baby is asleep, so he gets one-on-one time with Mom as well.