Are you freaking out wondering how on earth you’re going to manage looking after a baby AND a toddler?
Whether you’ve just found out you’re expecting again, or whether your birth date is moving alarmingly closer – stop and breathe! You’re right to be concerned.
Raising a toddler is hard enough and you know exactly how hard raising a baby is! So, raising the two together is a whole different level of stress! However, there are some simple tips you can follow to make juggling a baby and toddler easier.
It’s also worth reminding yourself on a frequent basis that you’re getting the hard work done and out of the way having two children aged so closely together! While your friends who have kids with larger age gaps will be struggling in later years, you’ll be getting to enjoy life, jetting off on holidays and relaxing in the knowledge those hard years are behind you!
Keep telling yourself that when you’re huddled on the floor wondering what the heck happened to your life! (Just kidding, well, mostly kidding!).
For now, here’s 10 of the best tips to help you juggle a baby and toddler without having a major meltdown…
1. The Key Is In The Preparation
The first and arguably most important tip, is to prepare yourself. While some things you can’t possibly prepare for mentally, there’s a lot you can do before baby arrives to make the transition easier.
Helping your toddler to be a little more independent is perhaps one of the best preparation tips you can follow. Of course, there are limitations here as there’s still a lot your little one won’t be able to do for themselves! So, expecting them to get up, have their breakfast, get dressed and play happily on the floor while you see to baby isn’t going to happen! However, you can start teaching them to rely on you a little less.
Take nap times for example. If your toddler currently only falls asleep while you rock them, you can start eliminating this behaviour. If possible, get your partner to take over for you. When baby comes, you’ll be reliant on your partner a lot more to take care of things for you. So, start giving them more responsibilities as early into the pregnancy as possible. That way, your toddler isn’t likely to kick up a fuss when baby arrives because you’re suddenly gone!
2. Talk To Your Toddler About Babies
One concern many parents have is how their toddler will react to another little one in the house. Will they get jealous? Possibly, but there are ways to minimise the chances of this.
Talking to them about babies and what they can expect is a great way to ease them into what’s coming. You can also build it up as an exciting event. Keep reminding them they’re going to be a “big” brother or sister. Toddlers love feeling grown up and if they see it as their personal responsibility to look out for their new sibling, they’re going to feel really important.
Preparing them for a lot of potential crying is also a good idea. If you have any friends with young babies, it would be good to introduce your toddler to them. Watching TV programs with babies in them can also help. Basically, as with tip #1, the more you prepare the easier your toddler will find it to adjust to having a new baby brother or sister.
3. Shopping Logistics
Once baby does arrive, one of the hardest tasks you’ll ever have to do is grocery shopping. What used to be a nice, relaxing and leisurely activity, feels more like a military operation! It’s hard enough with a toddler in tow, but with a baby it can seem like an impossible task.
Now, if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where you can get your shopping delivered – do that! Juggling a baby and toddler is hard enough so if there’s an easy way out of some tasks, take it – ALWAYS take it! However, if you absolutely have to go yourself it helps to plan it out beforehand.
Start out by feeding both baby and toddler before you set off. That way, your toddler isn’t going to end up bugging you for food as you hunt around the store. However, it still helps to give them a healthy snack while you’re there. Snacks are most definitely your friend here. They’ll keep your little ones quiet and ensure you have at least five minutes’ peace to get what you need!
4. Get Your Toddler Involved In Basic Baby-care Tasks
Your toddler can be more of a help than you might think! Take baby changing as a great example. You can give them the task of passing you baby wipes and holding the clean diaper ready for when you need it. They’ll love getting involved and it also encourages a healthy bond between the two siblings.
5. Synchronised Naptime
Out of all of the tips provided, this one is likely to be the one that saves your sanity! Babies sleep, a LOT. Toddlers also still need short naps. Therefore, getting your toddler into a daytime nap routine while baby sleeps is a fantastic way to get an hour to yourself (or at least half an hour if you’re not that lucky).
If sleep is proving to be really difficult, take this time to catch up. However, some parents prefer to use the time to do a few chores. Provided you aren’t overly tired, this can be a great idea. However, always choose a nap over chores if you’re not getting much sleep!
6. Join A Playgroup
There will be times you’re going to feel like you’re going insane because you don’t have much adult company. Every parent loves their child more than life itself, but it’s impossible to stay sane without at least some adult company during the week. A playgroup gives you an excellent chance to not only keep your little ones entertained, but also meet other parents.
There’s an added bonus here too. Everyone will just absolutely HAVE to hold your baby! So, you get a much needed little break too, leaving you more free to keep an eye on your toddler.
7. Cook Meals In Bulk
When it comes to mealtimes, you’re definitely not going to have time to stand and cook for hours each day! If you want to make sure you and your little ones are eating healthy, it’s a good idea to cook in bulk. That way, you can refrigerate leftovers or even freeze them ready for days when you barely even have time to shower.
Remember, even your infant needs a healthy diet. If you’re breastfeeding, what you eat does get passed through to your baby when you feed them. So, taking the time to cook meals from scratch when you can will really do the whole family good.
8. Bathe Them Separately
It’s common for parents to combine baby and toddler bath times. Logically, this makes sense – like killing two birds with one stone. However, it can actually be a lot more stressful and difficult to bath them together. Trying to get them dry at the same time and dressed together can be an absolute nightmare! So, separate bath times are an excellent idea if you’re struggling.
9. Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Organization
When you’re juggling a baby and toddler, organization is everything! The more you can do in advance, the better. For example, make sure you have nappies and changing equipment ready in place for the morning. The same applies for clothing that’s going to be needed.
Routines are an absolute must too. You’re going to need to be quite strict with bath time, bed time and meal times. There will be days when both your little bundles of joy will challenge this routine, but if you’re persistent it’s really going to pay off.
Organization and structure are difficult to master, but they will make your life a whole lot easier.
10. Always Ask For Help
Finally, always, ALWAYS ask for help! This is something you were likely told when you had your first baby. However, it’s doubly important now. It’s tempting to try to be super parent and do everything yourself. However, you’re only going to wear yourself down, get overly stressed and even in some cases get ill if you’re not looking after yourself.
You’re going to need a break, there’s no shame in that. So, accept as much help as you can get. Whether that’s help in the form of child care or help with the chores – every little does help and will do wonders for your sanity.
Even with the 10 tips above, there are going to be days where you have no idea how you’re going to make it through the day. Juggling a baby and toddler is tough – tougher than you could ever imagine! However, it does get easier and following the 10 tips above will really help.