The arrival of my first baby completely transformed my day-to-day life.
Mundane tasks that were previously straightforward – ironing, shopping, getting dressed – suddenly became impossible.
And then, just as I started to get some sleep, and follow some kind of daily schedule, I decided that now must be the perfect time to throw another baby into the mix…
When baby #2, Theo, arrived three months ago, one child suddenly seemed a breeze compared to this new chaos. I wondered what on earth I did with all that “spare time” when my firstborn, Dougie, was sleeping (probably doing the sensible thing and sleeping myself).
I soon realised that one pair of hands is simply not enough to take care of two little tykes (at one point I found myself leaning over and breastfeeding the 2 week old baby, who was on the floor, whilst dressing the toddler in his PJs…).
Bye bye to shut-eye whilst the baby is asleep, as I was required to play trains with toddler, with the utmost enthusiasm, of course, to guard against any jealousy
No more Netflix breastfeeding binge sessions – this time it was Bing marathons to keep the toddler entertained.
Going out of the house literally takes hours these days – I change one nappy; then the other; I grapple with toddler’s shoes; toddler swiftly runs back upstairs; I bribe him back down with a snack; I run around looking for baby’s hat by which time the baby is screaming for food and the whole cycle starts again…
BUT somehow life goes on! Despite all the chaos, it’s gorgeous being a mum of two.
Here are a few basic tips that, at least for me, helped make the transition from one to two that bit easier:
Introduce the baby tactfully
We made sure that we spoke about the baby to our toddler a lot whilst I was pregnant. We explained that there was a baby “hiding” in mummy’s tummy and that it would soon come out of hiding. “Hiding” was a concept that Dougie seemed to understand at the time, as he enjoyed playing hide and seek.
We were then given some really good advice about how to actually introduce baby and toddler for the first time. I was not to hold the baby (as this could instigate jealousy from the off) but instead to lay baby on the bed and bring toddler over to him.
We explained who this was and how he was no longer “hiding”. We pointed out the baby’s nose, ears etc gently, so it became a fun and enjoyable experience (until an unfortunate coincidence when the baby cried out as Dougie gently stroked his leg, which then set Dougie off wailing as well…)
Create a feeding basket
Have a basket of toys for toddler ready in each of the rooms where you may find yourself feeding the baby. A selection of books is really handy too, as you can all snuggle up for storytime together. Keep the TV control to hand as well in case of cluster feeding sessions – desperate times, desperate measures!
Snacks at the ready
Always have a snack (otherwise known as a “bribe”) packed away ready to distract toddler in an emergency situation (e.g. they craze to be picked up but you are already holding the baby and are 20 minutes away from the car…picking up 2 of them is no easy feat, trust me!).
In my experience an Organix Goodies snack bar will get even the most unwilling toddler to co-operate, at least for a few minutes.
Delegate tasks to the toddler
Toddlers love to be helpful, so involve them in bathing the baby and nappy changes.
It will make them feel included and it is surprising how useful a toddler can be when you need someone to pass you the towel, the nappy cream etc.
Make yourself free for them
It can be particularly tricky to find alone time with the toddler in the first few weeks of bringing the new baby home and this is understandably a big shock for the little person who had previously monopolised your world.
Even just setting aside 10 minutes of reading/colouring/tickle time whilst someone else holds the baby can make a big difference to the toddler’s mood.
It was hard to find an appropriate time to shower with just one child. Now it is almost impossible, as toddler and baby can’t be left in the same room together!
To keep myself sane (and clean), I have pre-planned my shower times with my husband, so I know which mornings/evenings someone else will be in the house to assist.
Invest in a sling
I didn’t get on particularly well with the fabric slings with my first child, but I feel much more confident using them this time around and they have been an absolute lifesaver.
The baby naps in the sling all day and I have a free pair of hands to do nappy changes/paint/make lunch with the toddler. I would highly recommend the Caboo carrier, as it is pre-woven and more user friendly for novices than the fabric wraps.