What can be compared to the excitement of welcoming a new baby to your home?
But your toddler might not feel the same way, and understandably so. I mean, can you blame him?
Not only does he have to share you with the baby, but he’s also not going to be the center of attention anymore.
It’s normal for a toddler to experience an array of emotions when a new baby arrives. Your 2-year-old or 3-year-old might welcome their sibling happily without making a fuss. Or they might get jealous of their new brother or sister for hogging the limelight.
But your toddler’s reaction to the baby isn’t the only challenge that you’d have to face when the newborn arrives. So how do you take care of a toddler and newborn simultaneously? How do you deal with them in a way that nobody feels left out?
Worry not! Whether you’re already parenting two children or planning to bring a newborn home, I’m going to answer these questions for you. This article will talk about the challenges you might face and tips for dealing with them.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
The Challenges Of Looking After a Toddler and a Newborn
So you mentally prepared yourself to take up the challenges of looking after two kids simultaneously.
Raising a toddler is tough enough, and now you have a baby to deal with too!
Wondering what challenges you might face? Let’s have a look because knowing them will prepare you to meet them head-on.
You’re Almost Always Tired.
You’re constantly torn between meeting the competing needs of two(or more) kids. It’s physically draining, and sleep deprivation only adds to the stress.
Your First Baby Struggles to Adjust
Your older child might have a hard time accepting their new sibling and start acting out. For example, they might get jealous of the baby and show aggressive behaviors like hitting, biting or throwing stuff at the baby.
Not Enough Hours in the Day
You can’t spend all of your time on the newest addition to your family. But, on the other hand, you’re afraid your toddler might feel abandoned. So, you end up feeling guilty for not having enough time for each of your children.
Going out the Door Becomes a chore.
You can’t just grab the keys and leave the house whenever you want. Now you need twice as many baby gears, snacks, and diapers.
Your Toddler Regresses
Your older child starts acting like a baby to get your attention. Now you have two babies to take care of.
Bringing your infant home could trigger a regression in potty training. For example, your potty-trained toddler might suddenly start having more frequent accidents.
A friend of mine said their toddler started pooping in the night for a bit more attention.
Also, you may notice sleep regression in your toddler after your new baby arrives. It is very common!
More Sleepless Nights
That’s a given. The nights feel unusually short when you’ve got two children so close in age. So when you finally put one kid to bed, another one wakes up and needs you for something.
You’ll constantly be sleep-deprived, at least for the first two months.
Your Relationship Changes
There’s little to no time left for you and your partner. You two barely get to talk about anything other than the new roles and responsibilities. So your relationship might take a hit after bringing the new baby home.
Also, it doesn’t help that mom’s hormonal changes and physical discomfort make her feel resentful toward her partner after giving birth.
That doesn’t sound very good. The silver lining? Things do and will start to get better before you know it.
13 Tips For Looking After a New Baby and a Toddler
Here are the top 13 tips for you to manage life with a newborn and a toddler.
Make a Schedule That Works for You
The schedule that worked for your toddler might not work for the new baby. So, give up the idea of having a perfect schedule and be flexible. You don’t need to keep your house spotless for the time being. So let it be a mess.
Instead of spending time cleaning the house, take a power nap or spend time with your toddler.
Try to Keep Your Toddler’s Routine Unchanged
Your toddler must have an established daily routine by now. Try to stay consistent with that routine. It will help them feel in control of their environment during this transition. Try to coordinate your baby’s nap time with their older siblings if possible.
Schedule One-on-One with Your Toddler
While parents, friends, and family are busy with the new baby, it’s normal for the toddler to feel jealous and left out. To avoid that from happening, make sure you give them your undivided attention every day. When your new baby is taking another nap, spend some quality time with your older child.
- sit with them and read them their favorite story,
- draw something together,
- sing their favorite song,
- have a conversation about how they feel about sharing you,
- answer their questions about the baby and have an interesting discussion.
Let Your Toddler Spend Time with The baby.
Give your toddler a chance to bond with the newest family member. Tell them to hold the baby’s fingers, kiss on the head, and hug them gently.
As the baby starts interacting with your toddler, your once jealous older child will start to fall in love with their little sibling.
Hold Off Making Big Changes
It’s not a good idea for parents to push their toddlers to make big changes like potty training or sleeping on their own right after bringing the baby home. If they can’t fall asleep alone or begins to wet their pants even after being potty trained, be understanding and give them a few months to adjust.
Enroll Your Older Child in a Preschool Program
Can’t spend enough one-on-one time with your new baby because your toddler demands constant attention? Well, enrolling them in a preschool program is a great idea. It will allow your toddler to have fun and learn important life skills while you get to spend some uninterrupted time with your newborn.
Don’t feel like sending your toddler off to full-time preschool yet? Many schools offer part-time preschool programs. Check them out.
However, it’s always a good idea to enroll your toddler a few months before the baby arrives so that they don’t associate leaving for school with the arrival of their sibling.
Involve Your Toddler in Baby Care
Find ways to include your older child in caring for their sibling. They can do things like grabbing a diaper or wet wipes for their baby brother or sister. Can’t find the burp cloth or the pacifier? Your little detective can help you with that as well.
Let them pick the outfit for your new baby. Tell them their little sibling said ‘thanks’ when they do something for the baby. The more you involve your older child in baby care, the more useful they’ll feel. That way, you can keep an eye on them while keeping them company.
Prepare for Nursing
You can’t feed the baby without planning something for your toddler now. If your toddler hasn’t stopped breastfeeding yet, tandem nursing (nursing both babies simultaneously) is a great way to keep them occupied while you nurse the newborn.
Otherwise, there are so many activities breastfeeding moms can use to distract the toddler while nursing. You can tell them their birth stories, look at baby pictures together and snuggle. Make a busy bag or bin for times like this.
Fill the bags with your toddler’s favorite toys, stuffed animals, and snacks. Keeping them interested in playing with these things keeps them close but out of reach of your toddler.
Let Go of the Guilt
If you feel bad that your second child isn’t getting as much attention as your first one, don’t. This one has got their older sibling.
Are you worried if bringing the baby home has made your toddler feel abandoned? Hold it right there. If anything, you’ve just got him a tiny playmate.
Put Your Toddler First
What to do if both of your children need you at the same time? Since your baby’s needs are more basic, respond to your toddler first and then take care of the baby together. Unfortunately, the baby isn’t old enough to get hurt if you tend to their older sibling first.
But your toddler will surely notice and remember that you chose the baby over them.
When your toddler wants your attention but putting the baby down means more chaos, don’t you wish you had more than two hands? Well, wearing your baby can solve that problem. It will free up your hands while keeping your baby close.
Make sure your baby is comfortable and sitting upright with their little neck and back fully supported. Can you bend down easily and kiss his head? You’re wearing them right then. Now go ahead and play or do whatever you want to do with your toddler.
Ask for Help
Don’t hesitate to ask for help whenever you need it. Ask your partner, siblings, friends, or family member to watch your new baby so that you can spend some one-on-one time with your older child.
If you’re all drained out from simultaneously taking care of two kids, hire a sitter and take a break.
Make Time for Yourself
Someone’s watching the kids? Now do whatever makes you happy. It’s important for parents to indulge in self-care as well as spending some quality time together. So, moms can get a massage or plan a spa day with girlfriends. Dads can go out for drinks or watch a game.
If both you and your partner can carve some time out, go on a date, or do something fun together to reignite the spark in your relationship. Don’t feel guilty for taking time to take care of yourself. It’s not selfish. Self-care is crucial for you to stay physically healthy and emotionally stable.
Your new baby will start to sleep through the night, and the colic stage won’t last long. Your older child will grow out of their tantrum phase and adjust to their new role as a big brother or sister soon.
Till then, hang in there and try to enjoy parenting as much as you can (even if it seems to turn your world upside down sometimes).
Finally, here is a rookie guide to newborns for you to learn a little more!