The first weeks with a newborn baby can be a challenge.
The sleep deprivation, hormones, emotions, sore nipples and breasts, bleeding, after-birth pains and recovery from labour, the list goes on and on. Now throw into the mix a toddler (or toddlers) and your life is about to go to a whole new level of chaos!
So how do you cope with a toddler and newborn baby?
How To Survive with 2 Under Two
Make the most of your time in hospital.
No doubt you will want to rush home to your older child, however take the opportunity to rest whilst you can. Hospital time is a chance for you to recuperate before heading home to your toddler with your newborn baby.
Whilst in hospital someone else cooks and cleans for you. You won’t need to lift a finger except to cuddle your new little baby. And hopefully when you get home your lovely partner, family member or friend will have tidied the house so you don’t walk into mess and loads of washing.
Coping with difficult or changing behavior in your toddler.
For as long as they can remember your toddler has been the only “baby” in the house. They have been number one. They now have to adapt to sharing this role with their newborn sibling. It is not unusual for them to have feelings of jealousy and resentment.
Here are a few ideas on how to help your toddler adjust to their newborn sibling:
- Try to spend one-on-one time with your toddler. This could be as simple as helping them with their bath or eating lunch together.
- Show them photos of when they were a baby.
- Give your toddler a present from your newborn baby.
- Involve your toddler with caring for their sibling. They can hand you nappies, or bring blankets. When your newborn baby is bigger they can help bath their sibling.
- Try stay as close to their routine as normal.
Changes in your toddlers sleeping routine.
It seems a fairly common complaint of parents of a newborn and toddler that their toddlers sleeping routines are disrupted. They may start to refuse a day nap, or start to wake more often over night.
It could be due to any number of reasons.
Perhaps they have reached an age where they no longer need a day nap. Of course with a newborn to look after and needing downtime yourself, this is frustrating and exhausting. The timing could not be worse!
If your toddler is unsettled over night, it is usually because they are feeling disturbed with the addition of their new sibling.
Sleep regression. Ugly, frustrating and exhausting. If it is any comfort, it will not last forever! Your toddler needs time and support to adapt to all the changes happening. Try to remain calm and fluid. If your toddler doesn’t want to nap during the day, jump on Pinterest or Google and search for some relaxing “quiet time” activities.
Finding a routine and balance.
Balancing a newborn and a toddler is difficult. The days will pass in a fog of sleep deprivation, feeding, nappies and nap times.
It always seems that when you establish a nice routine that works with your toddler that something throws it out of whack. A cold or other illness. A holiday. A newborn baby.
Establishing a routine is difficult. Think of it more as a flow to your day. A rhythm. If you get bogged down with having to do everything by a certain time you will stress yourself out. Instead relax into a rhythm. Dance to the beat of your own drums, or at least that of your toddler and newborn.
Dinner times can be chaos with a toddler underfoot and an unsettled newborn. Try these tips to help:
- Use or buy a slow cooker. It will seriously save you a lot of time and hassle.
- Meal plan each week.
- Prepare your meals as much as possible during nap times.
- Make extra and freeze for quick meals during the week.
Having two children throws your life into a whole new level of chaos. You may find that your days and weeks blur in what feels like an endless cycle of feeds, sleep times, bath times and tantrums.
Here are a few more tips to help you cope with a 2 under two:
- Make the most of the help available, be it family, friends or day care.
- Grocery delivery – it is a savior.
- Do not pressure yourself into having a spotless house.
- Plan main meals as well as snacks.
- Pre-make snacks to have on hand for your toddler when nursing or trying to get your newborn to sleep.
But most of all, breath, relax and try enjoying this new phase in your life! It passes by so fast and your 2 under two won’t be so little for long.
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Rachel Maree specializes in writing for small businesses in the health, fitness, pregnancy and parenthood industries. She is also a mum to 2 beautiful children and registered nurse. She loves her hectic life. It lends her inspiration and experiences to write intriguing, funny and informative articles and stories.