Surviving the First 6 Weeks with New Baby, Plus Toddler!(17 Posts)
You are all such wise owls, this time I don't want to be running around like a headless chicken when little blob arrives, so I'm picking your brains well in advance - what are your top tips for surviving those first few weeks with a newborn, bearing in mind I will have a 2 year old to deal with?
I've obviously got baby clothes, moses basket etc. so don't need that kind of info but, for example, my recovery after cs might have been quicker if I had thought to take arnica, as has been suggested a lot on here; what did you do about cooking, just general things like that.
Well... since you ask... and as I am about to have a thoroughly new career... what about a post natal doula on some days ? She could bathe and give tea to your son and maybe deal with the newborn for 1 hour so while you rest or enjoy your first born.
Otherwise, I find the food and meals advance planning a good idea. Freeze soups, bread and other meals (particularely for your DS as you don't want to spend hours cooking) - maybe get extra treats for your son which you can use as incentives. Maybe try shopping online with Tesco's or Sainsburys (if you don't already do it) to see if this is something you might want to do for the first 4 to 6 weeks.
I have had 3 children with a 2 year gap and I now wonder how I did it ...................... if possible recruit help!!! I have looked into being a doula myself as I know how hard it can be when you have no family living near.The precooked meals that you can make in advance and freeze (or someone else could make for you) for is a very good idea. You really need to make sure you eat well and not push yourself too much.
I also found that with my second I took the extra days I was allowed to stay in hospital and get to know my new little boy before rushing back home ......helped to have that time to bond and get used to loving another little boy as much as the first.
I found the best thing for me (luckily my dh could take the time) was that in the mornings dh would get up with the toddler and I would get extra sleep then. The baby always wanted feeding around 6am, so she used to come in bed and we'd fall asleep and for some reason she could then do 3 hrs. So dh got up with the toddler and wasn't allowed upstairs on pain of death until at least 9 or 10 am ntil I got up! This saved my life and meant I could survive the day. Also my toddler still had an afternoon nap, do you have this? If so keep it jealously and stick a note on your front door that you are asleep with a new baby and do not visit. I used to take the phone off the hook too for 2hrs every afternoon while the toddler was asleep to relax myself and watch tacky TV. Getting the baby into a routine quickly also helped me, and it depends on your feelings about this. I breastfed, but not on demand. Within days (and with no real pushing from me, just leaving her 5 mins, or playing for an extra 10 mins a time) I got a 3 - 4 hrly feed routine going. I had a c-section, but I think less than a week after coming home (by 10 days) she was on this kind of schedule, which meant I could make sure i had time for things myself. I didn't pre-cook or freeze food. I used to make supper with my toddler when the baby was asleep (around 4pm, when the toddler was up from her nap). This worked for me, but it depends on the child!
In haste cos my two are now asleep.
Keep toddler in routine at all costs. Baby won't mind being left to cry a bit, but toddler easily unsettled. I was panicked about bath/bedtime on my own with two. Found best way was to feed newborn while toddler watched last video, then leave baby in Moses basket downstairs while I did bath, story and bed with eldest. Could often hear baby crying, but chose to ignore it (could never have done this first time round, but needs must). More often than not when I came down baby was asleep, so added bonus was I got to have dinner and an hour or two with hubby.
Once baby old enough to have bath, I do baby first while toddler watches TV (she's now 3) then once he's out and dried I get toddler in bath and feed babe while she plays. Get her out and ready and give him other side while I read a story. Put him down while I give her a kiss and cuddle and then put him down around same time. Something I never did first time round - dd was up till 11 every night....
THink second timers tend to be more routine-y just by pure circumstance..you just don't have time to feed all day.
Tips for hospital. Have lots of little pressies wrapped up for when the toddler comes in - just stickers or a lolly - and give one on arrival and one if necessary to ease going home without you time - something we both found hard.
Make sure you follow plan A (above) for first bedtime at home. We didn't and all went up at the same time which led to huge scenes about why can't I sleep in your room etc etc, (everyone in tears) which stopped as soon as we decided to abandon babe during toddler's special bedtime routine.
Accept all offers of help, partic with domestic drudgery of shopping/cooking etc. Do as much as poss online. USe toddler nap time - in same away as bath - as long as baby is fed and changed, leave while you settle toddler,more often than not babe will also sleep and you can too!!
I have found having someone to get our toddler up and breakfasted has made all the difference. I am usually up and about by 8 / 8.30 or so but not having to get up with him at 7 has been crucial. As far as food is concerned, I filled our freezer before the birth and it has been an absolute godsend. Not only are our evening meals in there but I keep a good supply of bread for breakfast and lunch in there which has reduced the need to go to the supermarket.
When I am on my own with both children, I definitely try and focus on the toddler and I'm afraid the baby does get left to cry more than he ever did. However, it seems to me that on balance this is the best way of coping. Even at just over 3 months, the baby loves watching her brother and is happily entertained by him, especially in the bath. Breastfeeding is an ideal opportunity for story time.
I swear though Jodee, you will be amazed at how easy small babies are and if you are anything like me, you will wonder what all the fuss was about first time around.
Really helpful post Cl, thank you. This subject is one I regularly stress over having only 6 weeks to go now (aaahhh!). Anyway, I'm scribbling down various helpful tips because I know I'll forget them in my post-natal panic!
I only had 5 days of help before I was left to my own devices. I wept when mum left, feeling I'd never be able to cope, but I did, and you will. looking back, my expectations of myself and baby were way too high and that was probably the most difficult, so , after all this waffle, my 2 tips are:
1. Lavish as much attention on elder child as possible.
2. Chill out (ha - easier said than done - I never managed it, but it would have been great if I did!)
Hi there. I had pretty much no help with number 2, and dh went back to work after two days. Mind you, he had had a knee operation just before the birth, was on crutches and actually quite limited help before the birth let alone after!!).
Mostly I'd echo what others have said about focusing on the toddler as much as you can without abandoning the new-born. The little one will cope emotionally better than the toddler. A few ideas:
* buy a present in advance and let the baby 'bring it home' for the toddler. Ours was a little tikes digger, I think.
* If people bring loads of presents but only for the baby, either open them later or let the toddler help.
* Let the toddler have some special days with Daddy - we found a trip on the tourist open-top bus around Cambridge, followed by ice cream, was a huge hit.
As others have said, stick to routine as much as you cn - it'll help toddler feel secure.
* If your hormones catch you out and you burst into tears all the time, or scream at toddler for no reason, don't be afraid to apologies, just say that you're feeling a bit miserable at the moment and why don't you all have a bit of chocolate or whatever to cheer you up.
Good luck with it all - if it's any consolation, I found the transition from no children to one much harder than from one to two.
Jodee, I too worried about what I would do once no2 arrived, but as everyone else has said, its not as bad as you think its going to be. My godsend was my hubby. He managed to take a good couple of weeks off work which meant he could do lots of extra fun things with our eldest so he didn't feel too left out (only downside with this was that he wanted daddy most of the time which was a bit upsetting but didn't last long). He also did most of the cooking for the first 4 weeks(he was an absolute star really - I really missed it once the honeymoon was over), the important thing is to get help where you can.
The other thing that really helped me was finding out about Gina Fords routines. I know they don't work for everyone but it was really useful to be able to plan ahead with feeds etc. Within a week the baby was in bed for 6.30pm which meant I could do all the usual bath/bedtime routine with my eldest and have some quality time alone.
The other thing I would say is to really treasure the last few weeks with your first little baby. I couldn't believe how mine seemed to age overnight when I got back from the hospital. He seemed so big and old compared to the tiny baby I had brought home.
As Bells2 said it really is easier 2nd time around.
Everyone, thank you all so much! I will print this out and digest, keep it all coming though - thanks guys!
Maia, your last para really brought a tear to my eye about treasuring the last few weeks with your first, I definitely will.
Maia, that is so true - when I first changed dd's nappy (who was almost 2.5yrs) after having ds, she seemed so huge! You know how newborn nappies look so teeny tiny when you first see them? That's how you'll look at toddler nappies (and toddler feet and hands and ears and...), only the opposite! (I'm assuming your ds is still in nappies here - and I am in awe of you if he isn't!) I agree too that the second baby seems so much easier than the first...maybe it is because you are more relaxed and feel more like you know what you are doing the 2nd time around! You get less stressed, less paranoid etc...the second baby gets left to cry SO much more than the first, it's just the way it has to be sometimes, and they seem to survive it just fine!
My tips echo alot of what has already been said, but here goes:
* Cook double lots of meals now (casseroles etc), half to eat now and half to freeze in microwavable containers.
* Accept any offers of help gracefully - it does not mean you cannot cope! But any help is a godsend in the first few months.
* Talk to ds about the baby, let him help you set up and choose a few little items. Go through his baby photos and show him how tiny he was, and how he couldn't do any of the great stuff he can do now, like run and jump and feed himself. Explain that little babies need looking after when they are new. Don't tell him the baby will be a new playmate cos newborns really aren't a lot of fun for a toddler! All they do is eat, cry, and take what seems like too much of mum and dad's time! Buy him a few little gifts and have them wrapped and tucked away for when visitors or relatives bring/send presents for the new bub but nothing for big brother. Or let him open some of baby's presents.
* Try to set aside some one on one time with ds, for both you and dh. He will feel he is still an important person and you have enough love to go around! Feeding time is tricky since ds will know you have your hands full so to speak. Try to set him up with an activity or video nearby before you start feeding bub, or if you can manage one-handed you can even read him a book. That makes it a special time for you all rather than a time he will be trying to get your attention away from the baby.
* Forget the housework! Only do the essential stuff and try not to get stressed about the rest. Recruit ds as your helper, he will love having a go at dusting, polishing or sweeping, and it doesn't really matter if he doesn't do it properly!
*When baby sleeps, try to get some sit-down time yourself (or a shower or hot cuppa!) or better still if ds still naps grab one too! Avoid the Supermum syndrome - you really can't expect to have a spotless tidy house and effortless routines when you have a toddler and a newborn! So give yourself a break!
*Lastly, relax! You're are great mum and you will be just fine!
Just found out I'm pregnant and my little boy is only six months old......Part of me thinks I'm sensibly getting it all out of the way, but I feel really guilty that ds will miss out somehow. Still in a slight state of shock and also think people will consider me careless or feckless. (I know that shouldn't matter) Hubby somewhat bemused that our ONE somewhat drunken careless moment should result in instant pregnancy! I'm already panicing about childcare (the childminder has no spare places) Blimey. Anyone out there with the same age gap? about fifteen months?
17 months here - chosen, deliberate, hard work, but really glad. Every family is different & all kids too, but I'm really pleased with the age gap & it worked/works really well for us, and first child seems to adjust better than friends around who have the traditional 2.5 - 3 year gap. Good luck. Don't worry & if you want to be in touch more I'd be happy to be there for you!
Amazing what difference a few weeks can make. We're really excited about no2 now....can't imagine doing it any other way! The midwife was amused to see me back so soon but was full of support and good cheer. I'm slightly concerned about the physical toll....ds is a big chap and I already have to take care hulking him in and out of the bath/car etc. The advice posted here has made a massive difference to my confidence and even though it'll be tough at first, I know there's help out there. Still, it could be worse. I'm only eleven months older than my sister.........
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