Are you pregnant with baby number two and nervous about what to expect in the early weeks of coping with double trouble?
Second babies are easier in so many ways, mainly because you have been there and done the baby stuff before.
You’ll know all about the crying and sleepless nights.
But, while you might be a seasoned pro at handling a baby, you’ve never had to cope with two kids and this is where the tricky bit comes in.
I had my second child 21 months after my first. For me this has been a great age gap, but it’s not without its challenges.
An older sibling may be sleeping through the night, walking and talking, but they still demand a lot of care and attention from you.
A newborn baby needs 24/7 care and you’ll be recovering from the birth. If you’ve had a C-section then picking up a toddler will be impossible.
But I want to allay your fears as much as possible, because you CAN do this! You’ve brought one baby this far already, and you can totally handle two kids!
So here are my tips for what to expect in the first month with baby number two and how to make the transition easier for you:
You may have children’s television on a lot
I was one of those parents who swore the TV would never be a babysitter. Now I have it on every day and I feel no shame about that.
TV is not the devil’s work, it’s a good way of getting your kids to settle down so you can get important things done, like cooking dinner or shutting your eyes for 20 minutes.
Don’t ever feel guilty for switching the telly on for an hour.
You need to lower your expectations
The vacuum cleaner may sit untouched for weeks. The dust may gather on every single surface. This does not matter.
In this brief moment in the whole of your life, you need to be a little selfish and prioritise. If it’s a choice between cleaning or getting a rest, you need to choose rest.
Remember that the kids are the most important thing right now, and if you’re going to take good care of them, then you must take good care of yourself too.
You may want to limit visitors
Close family will of course want to come over, but when you have two kids to get used to, you may want to ask your friends to put off coming round for another few weeks.
You don’t have to go out
There’s a lot of pressure to get back to normal and into a routine as soon as you’ve popped the baby out. This just isn’t realistic and by pushing yourself too hard too soon, you’re only making things harder for yourself.
You have nothing to prove at this busy time. Ignore the pressure to get outdoors, take a long walk or take the kids to the playground.
There is nothing wrong with shutting yourself in for a few weeks while you adjust to this huge change in your life.
Buy these products
You will need an extra changing mat for downstairs, which you could keep underneath the sofa along with some wipes and spare nappies. This means you don’t have to leave your elder child unattended for a nappy change.
Get a bath seat so that you can bathe both kids at the same time without worrying about dropping the baby in the water.
Get a double buggy, or a buggy board to add to your existing one, if your eldest is under four, because you don’t want to be carrying your toddler everywhere.
Get a large changing bag and make it a rucksack, because shoulder bags are forever falling off and you need both hands to deal with two kids.
Ask for help
If you have a relative or friend who can take your eldest child out for a few hours, then ask them to do it.
Try to split household tasks and looking after the kids with your husband in a way that works best for you. I found it easier when hubby put our eldest to bed so that I could concentrate on the baby who was normally cluster feeding at this time.
Do your grocery shopping online
This way you can shop in the comfort of your own home and you don’t have to worry about screaming kids trying to escape the trolley.
Have a busy box to distract your toddler
Whether you are breast or bottle feeding, you will at times find yourself pinned to the sofa with no spare hands.
Have “treasure boxes” that you make up with various distractions for your child. You could have themed boxes, for example one with only red items inside, or a box of favourite small toys and small books.
This way your toddler can sit next to you on the sofa and go through the box.
Get good at doing things with one hand
You need to start getting creative with one-handed tasks.
Find a way to bottle or breast feed your baby that leaves you with one hand free. You may need cushions to help you with this task!
This leaves you with a hand free to read books to your toddler or help them build a tower.
I once read a comment from a mama on a parenting forum and she insisted she could change her toddler’s nappy with just one hand. I swear I don’t know how she did that, but hat’s off to her!
Read more tips for entertaining your toddler while feeding a baby.
You CAN do it on your own
One of the most daunting moments of parenting is when you’re left solo for the first time.
You cannot comprehend how on earth you can watch two kids, keep them happy, feed them, bathe them, put them to bed and do all of this without going insane.
I can still remember the first time I put both kids to bed on my own. I was anxious before things even started. Both kids cried, my eldest refused to put on her pyjamas, my youngest could not be comforted with boob, cuddles or singing. It was the least relaxing bedtime ever, and to top it all off, my baby did not go to sleep. She was up until 10pm.
However slowly, very slowly, it got easier. The kids and I got into a routine that worked and though we still have tears at bedtime sometimes, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much.
I hope these tips were useful. The key thing to remember is that however full-on the first few weeks are, remember that as time goes on it WILL get easier. Be less hard on yourself and remember you’re doing an amazing job!
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Ways to entertain a baby and toddler