It’s a tough job, but mommy’s got to do it.
Welcoming a new baby into the family is an exciting time for parents, as well as for a new sibling. But, caring for two young children can be demanding and exhausting. For parents (particularly moms), who have two little ones, here are seven tips for managing a toddler while caring for an infant.
1. Enroll your toddler in a preschool program.
Even if it’s only a part-time program, bringing a new sibling home can be the perfect time to enroll your toddler in preschool. Not only will it give mom or dad one-on-one time with the new baby, it will also give your toddler something special that is for big kids only. Make a big deal during pick up, ask questions about the day, and hang up works of art to show your toddler how special preschool is.
2. Set up a toddler area.
If you’re caring for a toddler and an infant, setting up areas where the toddler can engage in play by himself is very important. You’ll want to included child-sized shelves that allow your toddler to choose toys, as well as plenty of toys that encourage independent play. Think blocks, materials to color with and other art supplies, play food and simple puzzles. Make sure you also have a toddler-sized table and chair.
3. Try to coordinate naps.
4. Tell your toddler stories.
If your arms are full with a newborn, picking up a book to read with a toddler may not be realistic. Instead of reading a story, tell one. While you can make up a tale about anything (you can start with whatever your toddler is into at the time – superheroes, trains, princesses, etc.), you also can tell him stories about when he was a baby, just like his new sibling. Toddlers get a kick about hearing about even the most mundane details of what they did when they were babies. You can also try narrating what you are doing to care for the baby and then compare it to how you cared for the toddler.
5. Arm yourself with busy bags.
If you have an infant at home, being hands-on with a toddler at all times can be unrealistic. Busy bags are exactly what they sound like – self-contained, simple toys and games that are designed to keep toddlers… well, busy. Check out this busy bag tutorial, which includes several busy bag ideas.
6. Wear your baby.
Sometimes a toddler demands hands-on attention, and it’s important to be able to manage those moments. If putting the new baby down isn’t a great option, try babywearing once your infant is old enough. With a sling or a wrap, you’ll have your baby close to you, but your your hands free to parent your toddler.
7. Accept (and ask for) help.
Sometimes admitting you need help is tough, but it’s so important when you are juggling an infant and a toddler. Say “yes” if a friend, parent or family member offers to watch your toddler so you can spend one-on-one time with your baby. Or, have a sitter watch the baby so you can take your toddler out for some special time together. Having opportunities for alone time with both of your children is important.
Being a second-time parent to two very young children can be hard, but the good news is as a seasoned mom or dad, you know that the baby and the toddler stages are fleeting. Do your best to accept and embrace this time knowing that it will be short-lived.