You were already juggling with two balls – one, your child and the other, your household. (Yeah, we know you just let out a giggle :)). Some of you were juggling three balls – a child, household, and work – (Man!! we women are amazing!!) It took you some time to master the juggling, but you eventually became a brilliant juggler. It had become a second nature. And then, you went ahead and added another ball to the mix – a second baby. Now you have too many “demanding” balls and only two hands!
While we do not underestimate how hectic and difficult your life will be after the second baby, we hope the following five tips will help you deal with these challenging times.
5 Tips To Manage Newborn And A Toddler
- Prepare your toddler: You can prepare your first born even before his sibling is born. You might think he is too small to understand, but explain to him in as simple terms as possible that there will be a new baby in the family. Some of the things you can try are:
- Expose your toddler to the concept of ‘newborn’. You could show him a newborn at a neighboring house, or resort to YouTube. Explain to them they are very tiny, that they sleep and cry a lot, and that they need to be held and attended to most of the time
- Tell sibling stories where the older sibling cares for the younger one – your own family stories can do wonders!
- Discuss and plan with your toddler what activities he can do to help mamma and papa take care of the younger one
- Balance the schedules: This would be the trickiest bit. Your newborn and first born will have different sleep schedules, different feeding schedules and different needs at different times. Ironically, the initial couple of months with your first born will be easy as infants sleep quite a bit. Do not let this phase fool you. Soon the little one will be more social, more demanding for mamma’s attention and sleeping much less than before. This will be a phase when you will have two kids vying for your attention! Here are some things you can do:
- Organize the day. Create a time sheet that clearly states both the children’s activities, feeding schedules, play date schedules, vaccination reminders, school reminders and so on
- Optimize the time. Once you have a time sheet, work on it to club some of the activities together. Also decide on who in the family will take care of which activities
- Get your children used to the routine
- Set a nap and bedtime routine for your firstborn. Your toddler already has one. Involve your firstborn in putting your newborn to sleep
- Not all babies are easy to put to sleep. Give yourself 10-20 minutes to try putting your new born to sleep. If he doesn’t, do not push it. Try after half an hour or so. This will ensure that your toddler doesn’t feel you are spending all your time with the newborn
- Work on overlapping one of your newborn’s day naps with your toddler’s nap time. This will give you some time to unwind as well
- Engage and explain breastfeeding to your toddler: If your firstborn has been weaned of breast milk, or if he was never breast-fed, explain to him beforehand that babies can have only mamma’s milk and so mamma will be making milk for the baby. If you are still breastfeeding your firstborn, explain to him that once the baby is born, baby will also feed from you. Tell him that since the baby does not eat solid foods like the toddler, baby requires more milk, more often. But by any means, do not “hide” breast feeding from your first born. It is important and essential for him to see you breastfeed so that he understands breastfeeding is a normal part of nurturing a baby and not something to be shameful about. You can, however, do plenty of things to engage the toddler while you are breastfeeding the younger one so that he does not feel left out:
- Talk to your toddler while breastfeeding
- Get your toddler to bring a book and turn pages while you read to him
- Tell him stories
- If you have one hand free, hold him close and snuggle as you talk
- Deputize your toddler: Include him in all baby activities. Your firstborn can be of major help for you to complete small baby chores. By delegating certain tasks to him, you are making him feel important, needed and facilitating the creation of a bond between the two children. You could task him to get fresh diapers and wet wipes while changing baby nappies, you can let him chose the clothes baby will wear, you can let him push the pram while all of you go for walks, you can let him engage the little one while you take a break and you can include him in the daily bath routine. Any age-appropriate task will do! Some of the things you need to teach the firstborn are:
- How to handle the baby gently
- How to express love without hurting him (soft kiss, soft touch)
- How to play with the baby (rattles, funny sounds)
- How to talk to baby (soft voices, no shouting
- Build in one-on-one times: Babies require a lot of your time. But they are not as intelligent and as expressive as your toddler. For instance, they wouldn’t fret if your spouse or some other family member changes the nappy. This is not the case with your toddler though. Ensure you spend some time every day on a one-on-one basis with your firstborn. Do few things that only he can do with you. That will make him feel proud and empowered. Make sure your spouse sends some one-on-one time with the firstborn too
Caring For A Newborn And A Toddler
Apart from the ones mentioned above, here are some quick general tips to ensure that you and your little ones are happy cookies:
Finally, do give yourself some free tie every day to relax, reflect and just be yourself.