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We just had our son, and his big sister is in love with him. So far, I am loving the age difference: 21 months. They are just under two years apart which makes life a little hectic with juggling two under two, but growing up they won’t know life without each other. As the first grandchild, it will also help keep my daughter from being TOO spoiled (hopefully!). She is being really gentle with him and is only jealous when he’s nursing and she’s not (I am currently tandem nursing…more on that below). Here are some tips I’ve found helpful during our first month at home taking care of a toddler and a newborn.
Accept help, order groceries delivered, and order takeout (now is the time in life to do so…once the kids are older you’ll want them to eat healthy homemade food, but right now is survival mode-order whatever you’ll eat to keep your strength up!). Don’t pressure yourself, mama, you’re doing a good job. Your family just needs to find a new rhythm. Looking after your toddler and newborn is more important than your house right now. So much depends on your toddler and how they react to your newborn. My toddler is 21 months old and loves her baby brother so much. When we brought him home from the hospital, we showed her some stickers and a book “from baby brother.” She loved the stickers but hasn’t looked at the book since then. We showed her baby brother in the carseat and she wanted to hold him right away. We had previously been talking about him for months, and got her a big sister book so I think those things did help prepare her (she understands everything!). Below are some of my daily life activities to do with my toddler; hopefully they can help you as you join the 2 under 2 club!
Independent Activities to help you manage your toddler while you care for your newborn…for a more complete list of ideas and links see this post but some quick ideas are:
- Water table outside (an activity that is supervised but hands off)
- Crayons for coloring
- Puzzles (especially this singing Baby Shark one)
- Toy tea set (we got this food grade one)
- Stickers (I recently bought these reusable sticker books to try)
- watch a movie – screens are a great tool for those extra hard days (running on two hours of sleep, anyone?)
- watch videos of herself on my phone
- water no-mess coloring books
Special Time/Baby Naptime Activities are naps (sometimes his naps line up with her one nap and it is glorious) but lets be real toddlers don’t nap as much as newborns, so we can spend special one-on-one time with our toddler. These are some of the things my toddler and I enjoy doing without baby brother. The goal is quality time so I offer options but follow her lead.
Help your Toddler Transition and raise them right. I started these activities as part of my parenting strategy, which is to raise my children to be helpful members of society and that they are a team together. I want my toddler and newborn to be helpful, even from a young age. These activities are also special things right now that my toddler and I do together because baby is too little, and help her feel helpful and participatory with her baby brother instead of competing with him for attention. I hope that by helping me give him attention, she doesn’t feel excluded or that she has less of my attention and love.
- Help mommy wash dishes (she has a learning tower to stand in and safely reach the sink)
- Help burp baby
- Help push the baby swing/baby bouncer (she loves doing this but requires very close supervision because she often pushes too fast). We love this Fisher-Price swing.
- Show baby toys, hand motions for nursery rhymes, and how the toys work
- Tandem nursing (nursing more than one child). This works for me; my toddler nursed through pregnancy and I knew she would be very jealous if baby brother got to nurse and she didn’t so it worked for us to tandem nurse. It’s very sweet to have both my babies on my lap and sometimes she holds his hand.
I hope these coping tips will help you survive mama! Remember to hang in there, and it will get better. One of the leaders of my La Leche League group has a phrase: “This too shall pass.” (La Leche is a super helpful support group for breastfeeding). No matter how hard it is, all phases shall pass, and we will look back on the good parts of this time. Try to focus on the good parts now, at least once every day. I know some days are harder than others, and we can feel like we’re going crazy, but it is all worth it. Just look at that little face, and snuggle a little more.