What are your best tips for coping with a newborn and a toddler?(38 Posts)
Just that really. I have a lively DD already who is 2, and DD2 is due next month. I'm not going to lie, I found the newborn stage hard enough work first time around, so freaking out
massively about having to cope with a newborn and a toddler at the same time.
DH is very good when he's home, but invariable after his paternity leave will be out at work a lot and I don't have any family nearby who can help on a day-to-day basis, so it will be me muddling along most days on my own. [Although having said this we have decided to keep DD in nursery for the two days a week that she goes, even though I obviously won't be at work, as she loves her nursery and it's very heavily subscribed so if we took her out whilst I was on maternity leave there's no guarantee she would be able to get a place again].
So great people of Mumsnet, what survival tips can you share with me?
Don't make things too hard for yourself. Don't feel guilty when everything is not perfect. Do things for yourself as well as your dc.
And batch cook, especially for your toddler.
Go out every day so the toddler gets a good runaround.
Yes to batch cooking and lots of one pot/ one dish in the oven cooking.
Don't worry about too much tv for the toddler. I had mine on for hours some days and they don't watch loads now they're older.
Invest in some decent waterproofs and warm clothes for you and DD so you can get out everyday, come rain or shine. It will save your sanity.
Yeah I will try and get out everyday, as DD1 gets very boisterous if she's stuck in all day, although obviously it's going to be winter during the early months of DD2's life so not sure what to do if it's freezing cold and raining outside. I can't afford to go to soft play etc too often as my maternity pay will make things a bit tight. I've done a bit of research and there's a baby and toddler group one day a week which I could take them both too which is only like £2, so I'm going to give that a go. x
Chill out about tv (it doesn't matter if she watches a lot for a bit). Don't feel under pressure to 'do stuff' with the toddler- painting can happen at nursery. Encourage as much independent play as possible now. DS1 got very good at playing independently or with me contributing from the sofa while I was pregnant- it made life with a newborn easier.
Don't be too ambitious going out- toddler groups, soft play, park. Places with lots of other mums. I found that even if I was on my own with them both, other mums were really helpful in terms of pushing DS1 on the swing while I was feeding DS2 etc.
I didn't like the newborn stage with DS1 but enjoyed it much more with DS2. I know it will end, I know what I'm doing (as much as anyone can ), and I have company this time! With DS1 I used to clock watch while DH was at work, but I relish the days DS1 is at nursery- lots of time snuggling DS2 on the sofa and drinking tea!
Finally, I know everyone says this, but do get a sling!
I have a just turned 2 year old DS and an 11 week old DD.
I found DS very difficult as a newborn. Probably due to him 1) being difficult (!!) and 2) me not having a clue what the eff was going on.
I'm a SAHM now, so, in absolute honesty, not much has changed except there's a baby here and she wakes me at night for a feed!!! I have found it a LOT easier than expected.
The baby spends ALL day in the sling (she actually wouldn't go elsewhere initially...!) and we just get on and do. We also have no family closer than 7 hours drive or a plane ride. My parents have met DD twice... they are not helpful!
It was overwhelming the first few times we went out and I must admit the first time I went into town I was actually shaking!
My advice: 1) get a sling. I swear my DS has hardly noticed DD exists until recently!
2) get the baby to sleep by whatever means (we've given her a dummy)
3) pack your nappy bag/car with bribes. You will need them to leave the park/get in the car seat/get in the pram etc
4) pack some toys/stickers/books in the nappy bag to distract when out for lunch or are feeding while out
5) change nothing in the house at all. Same routines, same discipline etc
6) go to groups (try and sign up for termly ones rather than those god awful stay and play)
7) in the morning get your DH to get your DD up, nappy changed and clothes on before downstairs. Get him to give breakfast. You get a shower.
8) when out, try and sit at a window seat. It provides a distraction for the toddler and if they want to get down you can pin them in there.
9) I haven't found the batch cooking necessary (did a freezer full) but have still been able to do dinner
10) remind your husband (and yourself) that everything you do will be remembered by the toddler... do not let them go on those stupid moving rides outside shops... it is not easy to deal with the resultant stress arising from banning these while out alone with 2, especially with less sleep.
It will be fine!! I absolutely agree with keeping her in nursery. Psychologically a lot easier to know you only have 2 on your own for 3 days out of 7!
Good luck I hope it goes well!!
If you don't go to lots already I'd spend some time researching playgroups, children's centres, soft play, decent kids libraries etc in your area. You absolutely will need to get out of the house every day.
Also, a decent sling for the first few months and a playmat, then a bumbo or jumperoo for a few months later. They get heavy fast!
I also used the last few minutes months of my pregnancy to start encouraging more independent sources lay in my toddler. She's a bit younger than yours (only 20m between them) or us have potty trained her and taught her to dress herself too. I've just done both at 2y2m and it's making life a lot easier.
When dad is around make sure you take it in turns to have really good one to one time with the toddler. If she feels neglected the tantrums can get pretty constant.
Good luck. The first months are very hard but we're six months in and it's definitely easier. They also already love each other and giggle and hug a lot. Makes it feel worth it.
Find some good playgroups / breastfeeding group that you can go along to with both children. Hopefully you'll meet some lovely people who will keep you sane and toddler can run around in a safe enclosed area. I find it easier to have a routine of going set places on set days otherwise I'd still be in my pyjamas at 3pm while the toddler is climbing the walls!
Get some snacks and drinks in a low cupboard that the toddler can access then if you get stuck feeding or cleaning up a messy nappy for long toddler can be distracted to fetch their own snack.
I also second the tv/ipad recommendation, I used to give ipad to dd just so I could close my eyes for half an hour and I could snuggle up to her so feel if she moved away to cause trouble!
Some days are just about surviving! Watching films all day and asking the toddler to rock the screaming baby in the car seat while you frantically throw chicken nuggets and smiley faces in the oven bur it's so worth it as you watch the sibling bond and friendship grow. X
Oh , and get a sling. A nice stretchy one then you can have your hands free for the toddler, or your housework. Google for a local.sling meet or sling library so.you can try before you buy.
I agree that it's good to get out the house everyday, but at the same time I wouldn't plan any activities that you rigidly have to stick to as that will make you feel more stressed when things don't go according to plan (IME, they often didn't!)
Oh yes, absolutely with the independent play as above. And, if you're like me, don't let the house get untidy it's so much harder then!
Oh and right now... go to Amazon and order a Nose Frieda and saline spray. Right now!
Accept help!! I found other mums so sympathetic in the early days. They held baby whilst I took DS1 to the toilet, or helped him with something. And kept an eye on DS1 whilst I fed the baby. One mum cooked a dinner for me. That was awesome!
DS2 kind of slotted in to our life really. Mornings were about wearing out DS1, DS2 just kinda came along for the ride! The early days are the easiest, as babies are so portable and sleep anywhere, and then as newborn gets older, so will your toddler. (I had a 19 month after gap)
Go to a sling library. I'm not a massive fan, but mine saved my skin a couple of times!
Consider toilet training before your baby started crawling. Might not happen, but worth thinking about.
Good advice here, I will echo it was easier than expected and easier than being pregnant in some ways. You will be busy but not had much time for lonely.
Buy Wellies and warm coats etc it's never too freezing to go out.
Look at what free stuff is in the area
I would take mine to the park, feed the ducks and squirrels, local city farm, walking in the woods, library rhyme and story sessions and museums.
Other times we d do things that didn't cost much like a toddler group and a trip on the bus.
It has been much better than I feared! Dc2 is 5 months old now. Dc2 is a completely different newborn to dc1 so you might find it easier anyway than the first time around. The hardest bit for us was when I was feeding dc2, Dc1 sensed this was the time to do something dangerous/attention seeking etc so you have a dilemma of whether to keep interrupting the baby feeding or not.
I had a stash of about 5-6 small/second hand/cheap presents wrapped for really tough days. If I needed a quick distraction I whipped one out for Dc1 and said your sister bought you this.
I've heard of people doing "feeding boxes". You put toys in a box that only comes out for the toddler when you are feeding the baby. When you stop the box goes away so they stay a bit interested in it.
Have a plan for where you will go to most days (preferably walking as fresh air helped me get through the tiredness) but don't stress if some days it goes a bit wrong and doesn't happen.
Buy dvds of your toddlers favourite programme as again that buys time when you need to.
Lastly we bought Dc1 a doll and pushchair so he could copy me looking after dc2. Eg getting the baby dressed or changing her nappy. (More often than not charging up and down the living room with the doll's pushchair).
Good luck. The first time you see your children smile at each other your heart will melt!
Find a church play group if you can. Ours was run by Salvation Army but it doesn't matter whether you go to church or not. They're usually run by older lady volunteers who will be only too happy to cuddle your baby while you have a cup of tea and a chat with other mums.
Honestly it was my saving grace - 18mths between mine - at one stage I was going four days a week!
You sound like you feel a bit guilty about leaving DD in nursery for two days. You shouldn't. It means that you get one-to-one time with your new baby and she'll get outside stimulation from others.
So even if you have a week where you don't manage to get anywhere at least your DD will have a change of scene.
My toddler was very dependant before the birth of ds2, so I did some preparation of getting him to do more things by himself. One of the main things is feeding, its good if you can feed new baby on the sofa rather than a chair then toddler can sit next to you and not feel left out. New baby arrived with a 'present' for ds1, i had read about this idea and thought it was a bit cheesy but decided to five it a go and it was brilliant. He remembers it to this day and I think it made him feel important and included. It was a sticker book and he would play with it while I was feeding new baby. The use of a sling is great. And if you can get one where you can have them on the back once they're a bit bigger even better. Then if baby has an off day they can snuggle while you get on with looking after toddler. I remember being nervous about bed time, depends on your current routine but I was still sitting with toddler until he slept, so I timed this with a feed and that was fine. Good luck!
I found it a lot easier the second time around, you know what you're doing now and know what to expect so you're prepared.
Get a double buggy and get out everyday.
Take power naps when you can ( maybe on the days dd is in nursery and baby asleep). Power naps are a bit odd at first as it's literally 20 mins but once you get the knack of them they're brilliant. Have a quick coffee and set your alarm for 20 mins. Lie down. Shut your eyes. Get up as soon as the alarm goes. You won't have entered a deep sleep and it will refresh you plus the coffee will have had time to kick in.
Keep baby in sleepsuits so you're not faffing with clothes.
Eat as best you can and drink your tea when it's hot (if you can)
Work on the sibling relationship. The toddler needs more attention than the baby. She will be jealous, so do everything you can to mitigate that.
Don't be afraid to let the toddler know that you find the baby a bit annoying sometimes too (even if you don't). "Oh, no, he's crying again! You just eat this biscuit while I sort him out, then we can do something more interesting"
Toddlers suddenly look huge when you have a baby. But babies are pretty tough. Try not to be too protective of the baby- obviously not letting anything dangerous happen! Make sure that if the baby randomly puts a finger in the toddler's eye or something like that you tell him off.
And play two games constantly. Hunt the Baby- where you put the baby somewhere safe and you and toddler search the room for him, (concentrating on places patently ridiculous for maximum comic effect)find him, reject him as not suitable, hunt again......
And Mole Family. Where you pretend to be a family of moles, relax in bed with the baby and send the toddler searching under the covers for suitable baby mole food...........I remember watching my dd solemnly deciding between an imaginary worm, an imaginary beetle and an imaginary earwig for her brother's imaginary breakfast............
I had a bouncy chair for DC2. From a couple of months old he loved sitting in it and watching his big brother play or eat his tea. He was a big baby and I'm short I found it really hard to get anything done with him in it, although I know others swear by them.
The bedtime hour on CBeebies worked as a great end of day treat for the toddler and gave me an hour to get a big long feed into the baby that kept him going through the older ones bedtime.
Your house will be a tip. Accept it. I found this very hard to deal with. Even with a cleaner coming once a week they place was a bomb site.
Oh and because life doesn't always go to plan. Record the bedtime hour for when you're running late
I have an almost two year old and a five week old and it's much easier than I thought, and definitely easier than being pregnant and dealing with a toddler. I hated the newborn stage first time and was dreading it but it's been enjoyable second time around.
The baby doesn't sleep in the pushchair so I take her out in a sling and my DS barely notices her. I try and leave the house as early as possible and stay out until lunchtime. We go to a lot of toddler groups and there is usually someone who wants to hold a baby there! Waterproofs and wellies for puddle jumping are a must for us too.
Love the hunt the baby idea, will try that!
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.