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Tips on juggling toddlers and newborns

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2010-02-24 -


I’m about to give birth to Baby 2.0 any second now. My first child, Tycho, is only 20 months old – just old enough to master temper tantrums and hitting Mummy in the face.

My biggest concern this pregnancy has been how I will cope with both a toddler and a newborn; specifically, how I’ll integrate the newborn into the family with minimal disruption to and distemper in my toddler.

I’ve been doing a bit of research, as well as talking to trusted friends and health care nurses. I thought I’d pass on the tips that I’ve accumulated from my inquiries in case you’re also looking for advice on how to cope with two kids close in age.

Here they are:

  • When the toddler comes to the hospital for the first time, get the person with them (eg Dad or Grandma) to warn you by phone a couple of minutes before they arrive so that you're not holding or feeding the newborn when your toddler walks in. Go and greet the toddler with a big cuddle, then take them over to meet the newborn. If you're holding the newborn when the toddler first arrives, they’re likely to become immediately jealous.
  • Arrange for a gift from the newborn to the toddler when the toddler first arrives at the hospital. You could also arrange for the toddler to bring a gift for their new sibling.
  • If there's a bath in the hospital room, bring in some bath toys and let the toddler take a bath. This will give them something fun to do and keep them from getting utterly bored at the hospital.
  • Once you’re home, read to the toddler when you're breastfeeding the newborn. That way the toddler will feel included.
  • Try letting the toddler play in the bath while you breastfeed the newborn in the bathroom. That way, they'll be distracted by water play and won't be trying to climb all over you.
  • Have a box of special things for the toddler that's only given to them when you are breastfeeding the new baby. The box should preferably have a lid and be put away after each breastfeed. That way the items remain special and interesting (at least for a little while) and won’t just be left among the rest of the toys.
  • At some point during each day the baby will be napping while the toddler is awake. Use this time wisely with the toddler. Emphasise that the baby is asleep and it’s just special ‘toddler and mummy’ time; play a favourite game or read together.
  • Some parents find that when the newborn comes home the toddler suddenly refuses to go to sleep at bed time. This could be because the toddler is upset that s/he has to go to sleep while the baby is “allowed” to stay awake – i.e. the toddler is worried that s/he is missing out on time with the family. If this should happen to you, try pretending to put the baby to bed first, even if you get them up again to finish breastfeeding after the toddler is in bed.

This article has some more helpful tips on coping with a toddler and a newborn.

If you’ve already been through the toddler/newborn integration process, feel free to share any tips that helped you cope. I – and about eight of my girlfriends – would love to hear them!





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