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Tandem Nursing a Sick Toddler and a Newborn Baby

While I am enjoying life with my newborn baby and going through the 'fourth trimester' I have been dealing with some toddler illness in our house. It started when my baby was only two weeks old and my two year old had what appeared to be a stomach virus. He recovered quickly but it freaked me out since I had a brand new baby. Luckily nobody else caught it and he recovered in a day. It definitely made me wonder if it's safe to tandem nurse a sick toddler and a newborn baby.

Tandem Nursing With a Sick Toddler

We could do this all day but I have sick toddlers to take care of!

Then, he and my four year old both had hand, foot, and mouth disease when my newborn was four weeks old. What a crazy name for a virus but apparently this is a common illness in the toddler world and most of us are initiated at some point. The symptoms from this include sores around the hand, feet, and mouth and other typical cold symptoms and a fever. My children seemed to only get sores in their mouths and recovered from this pretty quickly as well.

And now.. my son developed typical cold symptoms yesterday which quickly turned into a horrible cough and trouble breathing. We brought him to the ER and he was diagnosed with bronchitis and croup. Seriously? Can I catch a break here? My newborn is almost two months old now. I have been so grateful she has not caught any of this but it's giving me anxiety.

We have had plenty of fun and activity so far this summer in between illness but then it comes back. I have been lucky that my children have both been extremely healthy and this is the most and longest bought of illness I have dealt with between the two of them. But again, while I have a newborn? It feels unfair.

So, it got me wondering is it safe to tandem nurse when you have a sick toddler and a newborn? Could the baby get sick from my toddler by sharing the same surfaces or breastfeeding right after him? Should I clean off my breast or limit his nursing? I still nurse my two year old before bed. I have been happy to tandem breastfeed and since it is typically just once a day it has not been too demanding. It's been a nice bonding moment and part of our day since the baby arrived. I also believe continuing to nurse once a day has kept him from feeling jealously at her nursing around the clock.

When he got hand, foot, and mouth I got nervous though. I had limited his nursing when he had the stomach bug and I decided to again to be safe. But, I had already breastfed him and my newborn before he was showing symptoms so she would have already been exposed. I did what any worried mom would do and googled it..

It seems that while there is not a lot of information on this subject, the consensus from Kelly Mom and other resources, is that the anti-infection and antibacterial properties of breastmilk will help protect my baby. An amazing and well known benefit of breastfeeding is the fact that once a mother catches an illness her body will produce antibodies to the illness thus protecting the baby from it. This seems to happen as well when a sick toddler or baby is nursing, the breast is exposed to the illness and starts producing antibodies. It's another example of the amazing protective properties of breastmilk. So while I am still cautious, I hope breastfeeding continues to protect my baby from this latest illness and that my son recovers quickly.

Let me know, have you every tandem nursed a sick toddler and a newborn?

Lizelle

Wednesday 19th of June 2019

My almost 2yr old is sick with a bad flu. Her temp is beginning to get high and I'm also tandem feeding her with my 7week old newborn. I am so grateful for this post. I feel much better continuing to feed them both now. I'm washing my hands after making contact with my toddler and hopefully my newborn doesn't get sick. Thanks .

BDi

Wednesday 12th of June 2019

This is super late but I’m tandeming my almost 3yo and my now 8 week old and we are on our second round of colds ? The first one was around a month old and started with my toddler. Our entire family caught it, including the baby. BUT my pediatrician told me that nursing or not, they’re in such close contact that it’d be nearly impossible for them to not share germs so I should just continue nursing as usual.

This time, my 11yo was the first to get sick, followed by the baby and now my toddler. ??‍♀️ It’s frustrating to me that nearly everywhere I’ve read that the newborn didn’t get sick but my little guy has now caught it twice, but that’s our luck. We will just keep on boobin’ and hope it passes quickly.

Aileen

Monday 10th of June 2019

I'm so happy I found your article. I have a 2and a half week old, &, a 3yr old that discovered I'm making milk again. The 3yr old got a cough thanks to our weather jumping 20degrees F in a day. Somebody told.me to wash my nipples after feeding her. I got scared. I did with soap and then facepalmed myself. No soap on nipples!!!! So after 3searches I found your answer. Thank you. My baby is still heathy a d my 3yo is not coughing like last night.

Jen

Tuesday 11th of June 2019

Hi,

It's really hard to know what to do. I don't think washing nipples will help though. Typically if one child is sick the other has already been exposed. Breastfeeding is the best way to protect your baby. Hopefully your 3 old is healthy soon. Good luck!

Giselle Lopez

Monday 17th of December 2018

I can not express how thankful I am that you wrote this. I am currently tandem feeding my 1yr 9mnth old and my month and a half old baby. My 1 yr old got a runny nose today and just woke up vomiting my breast milk. I am terrified my baby is going to get sick. So here I am, 1 am googling this and you’re blog is the ONLY one that came up in regards to this situation. I am exclusively nursing my 1yr old from only one breast and my newborn from the other in hopes of keeping the illness at bay. And washing my nipples repeatedly after each feedings. Just read a child died from the flu today as well to add on to my panic. Anyway I will be back in a week or so to report how my newborn held up on this tandem feeding issue!! Thanks again soooo much!!!

Jen

Monday 17th of December 2018

Hi Giselle,

I did tandem breastfeed both my babies while sick and my newborn never did catch anything. I am not a Dr. so definitely still take precautions but I do believe the breastfeeding protects the newborn. They have already probably been exposed to the germs but the breastmilk contains antibodies. Good luck! Definitely let me know how it goes.

Amanda

Monday 19th of March 2018

Nursing an almost 2 week old when my 22 month old came down with strep throat. High fever stomach head and body aches. I stopped nursing her when I first noticed the fever. I feel guilty about it knowing she would feel better if I let her but I'm scared my newborn will catch it. It's been about 5 days now fever has broken but she is still sick is on antibiotics. When would it be safe to allow her to nurse again? She asked multiple times a day and says she's hurting.

jenbrenan

Wednesday 21st of March 2018

Hi Amanda,

I am not a Dr but in my opinion I think it would be safe. From what I have researched, once a child is showing symptoms of illness your baby was probably already exposed to the illness. Breastfeeding them both may actually pass antibodies and protect your baby. I did tandem breastfeed both when my toddler was sick but I was super nervous about it. I might wait until 24 plus hours on antibiotics to feel safe personally.