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Currently a mom to a toddler and also reading this with a super pregnant belly? Worrying how you’re going to do it all when you’re outnumbered? Well you’re not going to do it all but you will do your best! Here are some tips to help the transition of one child to two and to surviving the first few weeks with a toddler and a newborn!
I previously shared how we helped prepare our toddler for a new sibling which was written the week after Hailey was here. Since I personally know of at least three SOTD readers who are now expecting their second while their oldest is under the age of 3, I thought I’d expand on that concept and share more tips including those from the first weeks/months.
- Teach your toddler to be more independent. This really isn’t advice that is needed just because you have another little one coming along. You should be teaching them this stuff anyway! But you will most likely have only one hand, if any, free to help them with the below tasks so use your pregnancy to teach them.
- Climbing into their car seat. Let them climb and get in so you just have to wrangle them to sit straight and buckle them in. This is especially helpful for first few days/weeks after baby when you might not be able to lift them to climb in, post C-section or not.
- Getting dressed. We made a big deal out of her learning to put her shirt or pants on by herself and now she’s both really proud and mommy doesn’t have to do it! For those learning how to put on their shoes, check out these great washable labels that help do the trick!
- Washing hands. Create this habit, especially for after eating or during the day, as needed.
- Less carrying and more walking. It’s time to reiterate safety of holding hands when walking in public, especially parking lots, as a running toddler is one of the scariest things! Bonus: walking tires them out for nap or bed! (For those looking for a safer parking lot situation, I HIGHLY recommend a Parking Pal Magnet!)
- Be daddy’s buddy. Luckily Derek is usually home by the end of dinner and therefore able to help with bath and bedtime. During pregnancy we often both helped with bath and bedtime but towards the end, Derek did it more than me. We knew that he’d be Brielle’s nighttime routine buddy when Hailey came so it was best to start this concept earlier than later. Make sure to still switch it up a bit so they don’t freak out when Daddy’s running late! (PS See 10 signs he’s a great dad to a daughter here!)
- Read books to get them prepared. Here’s a list of ones we read before and after baby that we recommend!
- Repeat safety phrases aloud and often. As I’ve shared on Instagram, Brielle LOVES to put her babies “night night” meaning face down, blanket completely covering them and a not so gentle pat on the back. While pregnant we made sure to reiterate safely putting babies to sleep with the phrase “no face” aka no suffocating a sleeping baby. She continued to say it during play time and says it often now that Hailey has arrived. We also reiterate sneezing or coughing into your elbow (vs their hands that continue to spread germs).
- Transition changes slowly. In our case, we had to move Brielle from the center spot to the driver’s side in the car. About a month before baby arrived, we put the infant carseat base in the car and made the switch with Brielle’s seat. She was able to get used to this transition without a crying baby in tow from day one.
- Wear the baby. There have been plenty of posts talking about the first year with Brielle where I mentioned our love of our Ergobaby Original Baby Carrier and the love continues with baby #2! Now more than ever, it’s helpful to have my hands free to chase a toddler so we rock the Ergo often. I say we, as Derek is #manenoughtowearthebaby. Wearing the baby is especially helpful when shopping as a sitting toddler and car seat in the back leave no room for groceries!
- Create safe zones for baby. Even after 4 months I’m not super confident in leaving these two together in a room unsupervised, even for a quick bathroom break. Instead it’s easier to bring Brielle and leave Hailey in a safe spot for the short leave. Safe spots include a play mat on the floor, crib or pack n’ play, bouncer or simply one of the many handmade blankets we have on the floor.
- Keep quiet toys/play zones nearby for toddler. You’ll also want to lessen all the crazy, noisy toys for a softer environment for baby’s naptime or when you’re feeding. Tip: new toys you can introduce during this time are always fun! Hoard those received from holidays or birthdays to slowly open in those first few weeks of baby’s life. Scroll to the bottom of this post for our favorites, or check out the busy bags and quiet books you can DIY!
- Tell baby “no” sometimes. Your toddler will probably hear you say “no” more now than ever before. Make sure to say some “no”s to the baby too so the toddler sees they are treated the same way. “Hailey, you can’t have any carrots. Those are just for big girls.” “Hailey, you’re not allowed to sit in Brielle’s big girl chair and she’s not allowed to sit in your seat.” Brielle likes to reiterate these restrictions to Hailey, hopefully seeing that everyone has restrictions.
- Practice taking turns, switching up who goes first. It will be easy to want to take care of baby first with any of their needs but sometimes you need to put the toddler first. “Hailey, Brielle’s getting her diaper changed first then it’s your turn.” Within a few weeks Brielle really understood the concept of taking turns when it came to this simple everyday task and she now applies this to other actions in life.
- Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Children learn by repetition so keep stating things to keep baby safe. We reiterate often how Hailey can only have milk so Brielle doesn’t try to share her food/drink with her. We say “gentle” about 1000 times a day. She’s finally remembering to sneeze/cough into her elbow (vs her hands) after all the times we’re reminding her.
- Allow them to help (while supervised). They have been watching and mimicking you doing things from day 1 and you always encourage those moves and thought they were cute. Well now they might want to “help” with baby so let them do some things and be mindful of other tasks they’re just not ready for yet. Brielle for one, is very proud to help her baby sister whenever she can.
- Acknowledge good behavior. There’s going to be good days and bad days those first few weeks. Praise/acknowledge SOME of the good moments with your toddler. This doesn’t mean reward them every time, but an occasional aftermath reward, and not a bride, is always appreciated! Brielle calls these “special treats” and loves how I unexpectedly give the to her after recognizing a good moment/day.
- Transition changes slowly. When Hailey was born, Brielle was starting to have an interest in the potty and also at an age where she should no longer be using the pacifier. Since having a new sibling was change enough, we didn’t focus on these milestones right away. At 2.5 months in Brielle began going down for naps and eventually bedtime without a pacifer and I’m happy to report that the pacifier transition has been complete. Potty training is next! (UPDATE: Here’s how potty training went, with tips on what helped make it easier!)
- Prepare your meals the same as your toddler. AKA precut all your meat as soon as it’s out of the oven. You will most likely be trying to scarf it down while holding a sleeping or crying baby so you’ll only have one hand. Don’t let that pork chop go to waste!
- Keep routines. Yes, a newborn is anything but routine. But try your best to keep as much as normal and routine as possible for your toddler. Brielle still attended daycare two days a week, even the first week we brought Hailey home. We still ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at similar times each day. She knows when to expect a nap or when it’s time to go to bed. TIP: Get a sleep machine to help drown out any noise! We previously LOVED our Sleep Sheep on the Go but have upgraded to a Marpac DOHM-DS Sound Machine that doesn’t go off at night! (Thanks Aunt Lauren!)
- Make time for toddler and mommy time. Whether it’s doing puzzles while Hailey takes a nap or bigger shopping trips out of the home with Hailey home at dad, Brielle loves to get some one on one time with mom (and mom likes it too)!
- Get a backpack diaper bag. I actually bought one and used it while pregnant as a pregnant me plus an active toddler caused a need for two hands often. But this is even more useful when you have two to tend to!
- Practice patience. Having a young toddler who may or may not be in or entering terrible twos, along with a newborn can be stressful and test mom’s patience. I’m not gonna lie, its hard. But do you best to try and take a breathe and be patient. Remember that they are most likely not acting maliciously. They are most likely hungry, tired or just being two! Step out of the room and take a breath if you’re feeling stressed or ask for help if you need it!
Looking for more insight on my life with two littles? Check out my Stay at Home Mom Tips and Tricks!