Firsthand Tips for Juggling a Newborn and a Toddler

Becoming a mom is an incredible experience. You give life to a brand new little human, who changes your world forever and perhaps turns it upside down for a while.

At first, navigating life with a newborn can feel hard and exhausting. What starts out as your itty baby eventually blossoms into an interactive, walking, and talking little person. Once your child reaches the toddler stage, some of you may feel like you figured out parenthood and can take on any new challenges that come your way.

And then, you become pregnant with baby number two! You may think to yourself, “This will be easy, I have done this before!” That is until the baby arrives, and on top of taking care of a brand new human needing around-the-clock care, you also have to take care of your walking, talking, and demanding toddler.

Here are some helpful tips that will help you navigate the first few months....

            Before baby: Before the new baby arrives, talk with your toddler about the baby. If you have any baby dolls at home, help your toddler practice holding the doll, and explain that there is a real baby in mom's belly who will be joining the family soon. If you have any friends who have young babies, or are a part of any baby groups or classes, it can be helpful to expose your toddler to them.

            Once baby arrives: After the new baby arrives, you will most likely find yourself on the couch nursing, or giving a bottle and unable to grab something that you need. This can be a great opportunity to involve your toddler! You can ask him or her to get a diaper for the baby, or grab a blanket from the bed. Involving your toddler in the care-taking process may help him or her with the adjustment of a new sibling and all of the changes taking place in the home.

            The first few months: The first few months with a new baby can feel all-consuming. Newborns eat 8-12 times a day, so much of your day may involve feeding him or her on the couch. Ask your toddler to bring books so you can read to him or her while feeding the baby. Many moms feels guilt over the time and attention the new baby takes up. Finding ways to interact with your toddler while you are taking care of your newborn can help you feel like you are caring for both children simultaneously.

            Support for mom: Be sure to have the support that you need. Whether you rely on the help of your partner, family members, or a close friend, make sure that you get relief. It is important to find time to nap, shower, eat or just go for a walk outside. You need the energy to care for your children and will burn out quickly if you try to take everything on alone.           

You may feel like you are in “survival” mode the first few months—that is completely normal. After the first 3 months, you will have a better sense of your little one and his or her needs. You can begin to develop a schedule and hopefully start getting more sleep, as the baby will sleep in longer stretches. At times, the lack of sleep may make the “survival” mode seem never ending, but remember that it is only temporary.

Being a parent is a special and incredible experience. It’s full of ups, downs, lots of spit up and hundreds of diapers to change. It also brings new and amazing adventures that may fulfill you like you have never felt before. Bringing home a new baby with a toddler in tow is a difficult challenge to prepare for. These simple tips can help you feel more in charge of all the changes taking place, and so that you and your family can adjust as a cohesive unit.