Having children who are relatively close in age can be challenging, but it also brings many rewards. Tips for adjusting to parenthood of two young children are discussed.
Having a second child so soon after the first can be a joy, but it can also be very taxing on your energy levels. Caring for a newborn and a toddler at the same time can be a lot to take in at first. But with the help of your loved ones and these guidelines, you’ll be able to take it all in stride and have a blast.
Top ten tips for family life with two children under two:
Remember your toddler is still a baby
Juggling the needs and wants of two young children can be challenging, especially in the first few years of their lives. Your toddler is still young and may benefit from your guidance as he or she adjusts to being part of a larger family.
Your toddler is used to being the center of your universe since he or she is the youngest child. They will have to adjust to having a sibling and learning to share your attention.
Planning ahead for how you want to introduce your toddler to the new baby is helpful.
For this reason, some parents opt to wait to introduce their toddler to their new child until they bring the newborn home. While others opt to wait until the birthing center or hospital to make the introduction.
Some parents enjoy taking their young child shopping for a gift for the newborn, and some may even have a present waiting for the child from their new sibling. This may help her feel valued and included.
Make a fuss of your older child
In the early days, when there is naturally so much focus on the new baby, your toddler may feel left out. It’s normal to put your newborn’s needs before your own, especially at first. The older sibling should be praised for taking on the role of big brother or big sister and encouraged to continue doing a good job in it.
You can have your older child’s visitors play with them or pay special attention to them during visits from family and friends. Your older child’s relatives and friends are likely to take pleasure in lavishing attention on them. They may appreciate the break from your hectic schedule that taking them out for a while provides.
Involve your toddler where you can
If at all possible, have your toddler help out with baby care. They could provide assistance with diaper changes by handing you a fresh diaper or wet wipes. Or, they can play along by putting the baby’s diaper on their favourite stuffed animal or doll.
You can also get your toddler involved in caring for the baby by having them do things like greet the baby when they wake up or picking out an outfit. Some parents read picture books to their toddlers to get them ready for the arrival of a new sibling. You could get them involved in preparing the nursery or any other tasks related to the upcoming birth.
Dealing with exhaustion
You’re bound to be tired with a hyperactive toddler running around and a newborn in your arms. If your newborn wakes frequently at night and your toddler is an early riser and very active during the day, it may be difficult to adjust to the lack of sleep.
If at all possible, try to schedule some alone time with your significant other. The two of you could get a babysitter and go out on the town or stay in for a romantic evening together.
If you can, nap during the day. It could be by relaxing with a cup of tea at a toddler playgroup, or by sleeping through your child’s nap. You might get some much-needed sleep with your newborn if your toddler spends time at a nursery or with a babysitter.
If you need to take a nap or just relax, ask for help from your loved one(s). As an alternative, you could take the kids out for a drive in the afternoon. You could get some rest if they decide to take a nap.
Expectations versus reality
Having a new sibling can be a lot for a toddler to adjust to, so now is probably not the best time to introduce major changes. Some parents start thinking about putty training around the age of two, but a new baby could make that a stressful time for everyone involved. Don’t worry about missing out on any developmental milestones your baby might reach if you take your time.
Your primary focus during these early months should be on meeting the basic needs of your children and getting some rest. Don’t worry if things aren’t as neat and tidy around the house as they once were.
Be as adaptable as possible in how you approach each day and what you priorities. Putting yourself first and making time for relaxation and rejuvenation is also crucial.
Never hesitate to ask for help
Don’t be afraid to reach out for assistance if you’re struggling. There is always someone you can talk to and ask for assistance, whether it be your partner, mother, friends, or neighbor.
If you’re having a hard time getting started, it’s important to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Seek professional assistance if you are having difficulties or suspect that depression may be an issue.
If you want to get some rest and bond with your new baby, scheduling childcare for your toddler is a good idea. After the birth of a child, some parents find it helpful, both physically and emotionally, to have a close friend or relative spend time with their toddler.
Going out and about with two
It’s great to take advantage of toddler groups and activities if your little one is active and curious. Keeping up with their regular circles of friends and family will reassure them that life hasn’t completely turned upside down.
To give you some time to yourself with your newborn, your family and friends may be willing to take your toddler to their regular playgroup. They could accompany you to a playgroup until you feel comfortable there, or they could help you with the kids so you can go out alone.
Your child’s age will determine whether you need a double stroller or a single stroller with an additional board. If you’re a parent who values having your hands free, a sling may be a good choice for carrying your baby while also caring for your toddler. You can save time getting ready for going out if you keep a bag stocked with all the extras you’ll need on hand.
Get started with trips to kid-friendly spots like the park or story time at the library. You could also host a playdate for other moms with young children at your place.
Be prepared with snacks and stories
You may need to have snacks and activities ready to keep your toddler occupied in the beginning while you feed your baby. If you plan to breastfeed your newborn for extended periods of time, this is especially important.
If both babies are breastfed, some mothers will breastfeed them simultaneously, a practice known as tandem breastfeeding. A child who has stopped breastfeeding as a toddler may want to start up again.
While you’re feeding the baby, your toddler may want to snuggle up to you or a special stuffed animal. Some people may prefer to play solo games.
It can be helpful to have something like a storybook or activity on hand. Your older child can sit with you while you read to them or do an activity such as a puzzle.
Meeting the needs of two
On occasion, you’ll have to split your attention between your two young children. Because you can’t be in two places at once, focus on the one with the most pressing need (Parents, 2018). Do the best you can in the moment.
Your toddler may be the first person you turn to for assistance, depending on the circumstances. In that way, you’ll be able to share in the care of the baby.
You can also ask your young child to wait while you tend to the newborn. A fall by your toddler could necessitate your immediate attention.
It can be helpful to spend some one-on-one time with your older child if you are able to set up childcare for your baby. So, you can give your full attention to making your older child feel safe and loved. In order to strengthen your relationship, it’s important to encourage your partner to do the same.
For parents and members with questions about feeding their baby or anything else, our support line is here to help. You might find attending one of NCT’s Early Days groups helpful as they explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and allow you to meet other new parents in your area.