There are some situations that aren’t often talked about when it comes to having children, one of them being the potential different stages that your children could be at. If your children are born close together, you find yourself with a toddler and a baby simultaneously, both requiring a lot of care, but entirely different types of attention and encouragement.
Here are some tips from the top parenting bloggers speaking from experience, ranging from how you can introduce your toddler to their new sibling, to how you can give both of them equal care and attention.
Mel, Le Coin de Mel
After five or six months of pregnancy, we started talking about the baby growing inside mummy’s tummy, and foetal development. We regularly read: ‘There’s a House Inside My Mummy’ as a night-time story as well, to get the older siblings used to the idea that one day, there would be a small baby in our house with us, and we chatted about possible names for the baby, folded clothes together and the toddlers always picked a teddy for their future sibling towards the end of the pregnancy. As soon as baby was born, they were allowed to hold the baby on the sofa, with help. I really think these tiny steps helped them bond with the new babies.
Laura, Laura’s Lovely Blog
My main tip for coping with a toddler and a baby is to establish a routine. As soon as I got a routine in place, everything became easier. It wasn’t always perfect and I was far from rigid, but adding a split feed late afternoon, for example, meant that I didn’t always have a baby crying for food when I was trying to organise dinner for a cranky and tired toddler. Planning activities around naps so I could give my toddler Mummy attention while the baby slept. Planning bed and bath time around the time my husband came home meant we could share bed and bath times giving each child one on one time. This definitely made things more manageable for me.
Sabina, Mummy Matters
My biggest tip would be to make a big deal of the toddler first. With each of ours we introduced the baby to the toddlers at the hospital and made sure that I wasn’t holding the baby when the toddlers arrived. Simon would send me a text to say that they were on their way up, that way my arms would be free to give them a big hug as soon as they came in. If the toddler isn’t keen on meeting the baby, then it’s important to not force it and let them meet them in their own time. Having a ‘big brother/sister’ present from the baby always helped to ease the process and allowing them to have an assisted cuddle with them.
Jenny, The Brick Castle
Relax into it. Your main job is to be a parent and care for your children, so let that be your focus, don’t try and do lots of other stuff. Involve your older child in the care of the little one. They can fetch things and talk to the baby and otherwise feel helpful and involved. Don’t let the baby take away from the toddler, make it a three-way relationship instead. When you are feeding the baby, snuggle the older child sitting beside you and watch TV together, talk, play games and read books. When the baby goes to sleep in their Moses basket or cot, encourage your toddler to watch on your video baby monitor.
You’ll all benefit from the time together, you’ll be closer and more understanding, and both of the children will learn to talk more quickly and have a wider vocabulary.
Zena, Zena’s Suitcase
We knew that my two-year-old daughter would have a hard time adjusting when her baby sister came home. Imagine how you would feel if your husband or wife brought a new partner into the home? I suspect my daughter was having similar feelings at the time! Not only have you got a new baby to care for, a toddler to think about who has very different needs, but you are also recovering from giving birth, night feeds and everything else a new baby throws at you. The approach that worked for us was to not disrupt our toddler’s routine in the early days. For the first few weeks after baby was born she carried on attending full-time nursery until the baby’s routine was established at home. After that time, she carried on at nursery for a few days a week. We found this approach worked best for us as a family and gave everyone the chance to adjust to the new arrival.
Kate, Kate On Thin Ice
I would say state loudly and clearly what support you need from others – your partner, relatives, friends and colleagues.
Leyla, This Day I Love
My main top tip is to go with the flow. Having a baby and a toddler means you should expect the unexpected. Some days you will be all washed, fed and dressed before 9am and other days you class it as a productive day if you managed to get dressed.
Invest in a slow cooker. You can put everything in to cook in the morning and have dinner ready without having to think too much, or have to stand cooking while watching young children.
Don’t feel too guilty if you don’t do everything you did with your first with your second, third or subsequent child.
Paula, Mummy vs Work
My top tip after having our son when our daughter was 20 months old was to get our son into a similar routine as our daughter, so she would help me settle him for bed with his bottle, bath and bed routine then we would put her to bed. Although our son didn’t go to sleep and would just settle happily in his cot, our daughter felt like she had helped with her brother and settled into bed fine.
If you find yourself having to introduce your toddler to their new sibling, make sure to take note of all the advice above! First impressions count, even to little ones, and it can make all the difference. If you’re struggling to keep your toddlers occupied while you have a baby around, check out how you can keep your toddlers occupied without spending any money.