Looking after a newborn and toddler is no easy task. I’m 6 months deep into life as a mum of two. I’m currently spending most of my days with a three-year-old and six-month-old alone because of lockdown. Luckily my eldest recently started pre-school a few months ago meaning I get a couple of days a week just with baby Zach. I had hoped to take him to baby groups in this time but of course, the lockdown has stopped all of that.
I am no child expert, to be honest, like most of us I’m winging it 99% of the time. Parenting doesn’t come with a manual that’s for sure!
All I can do is give you some small tips to help you through the late nights and tired mornings.
This is a big one. When you’re constantly busy feeding, changing and rocking your baby it’s most likely that this is when your toddler decides they need you for playtime! Investing in some toys that don’t need any help will save you. For my eldest its things like vehicles, wooden garage, animals, magnets, water wow books and small world play.
These things are simple toys that need no setting up and are just ready to go. We’re a big fan of Melissa and Doug in this house, they make some beautiful wooden toys of such high quality at such affordable prices.
Things like puzzles, paints and playdough I have found to be things my toddler needs help with. I’ll save these types of activities for us to do together when the baby naps.
Here are some toys I recommend you get for your toddler so they can keep themselves entertained.
Having a tablet is something I never thought I would give my toddler, like ever. But sometimes needs are a must. I managed to dig out an old iPad of mine, download Youtube Kids and the Cbebbies app and this will give my toddler a good hour or quiet time. I usually bring this out when the day has just gone from bad to worse when I’m running on very little sleep and I just need some time to breathe. This usually allows me some time to sit down (if the baby is asleep), have a hot drink and recharge.
There’s nothing that toddlers like more than snacks. Theodore asks if its lunchtime at 9:30 most days. Having a good selection of snacks in for him to choose from has helped on many occasions where we’re close to an emotional tantrum. “Shall we get a snack?” changes his mood at the click of the fingers. I usually buy things like veggie straws, rice cakes and fruit are a big hit. I fill up a basket with things from Kiddlylicious, Fruit Bowl or Organix for him to choose from. Of course, he has unhealthy stuff too, he loves a packet of crisps, chocolate buttons, mini gingerbread men and sweets too.
1 on 1 time
In the beginning, your baby won’t need too much 1 on 1 time as they’ll get that from feeds. But as they start to get older they’ll love to start interacting with you more. So things like sing songs and peek a boo are perfect until they can start to grab onto toys. More importantly, your toddler will be craving some 1 on 1 time with you. Especially if they’ve been the only child for so long and have had all your attention.
Perhaps setting up activities during your baby’s nap time could be a good start. Something you can sit and do together uninterrupted. Think of what your toddler loves doing best. For Theodore, he loves crafts, painting and playdough. Sitting together and creating something fills up his attention bucket (an imaginative bucket that each day needs filling with enough love and attention). I’ve read by professionals online that children only need two lots of 20-minute pure focused attention to fill up their bucket for the day. This slightly differs from child to child – but its something to try work towards!
Your toddler just wants to be included! So get them to help with day to day tasks around the house or with the baby! Ask to be passed nappies/wipes when its changing time is a great example. Theodore loves popping Zach’s dummy in when he needs it. Things like this help them feel needed and loved and will make them feel less left out when the baby is getting a lot of attention.
You can easily google the age-appropriate things your toddler can help out with. My 3-year-old likes to help set the table, sweep up, wipe surfaces, tidy toys, dusting, emptying/filling the washing machine and put away the food shopping.
There will be tantrums
And not just from the toddler! From you, the toddler and even the baby. Sometimes one of them is just going to have to moan/cry whilst you sort out the other. Remember you’re only one person and there is two of them! Many times I’ve had to help Theodore go to the toilet, make his lunch and cuddle him so that has meant Zach perhaps has cried waiting for me to come to him. Don’t feel bad on yourself, that’s just the way it’s going to go sometimes.
If you’re currently pregnant with your second baby I know you’ll be worrying about how it will all work, I know I did for the majority of my pregnancy. All I can say is that it just does. It just works and your baby will slot straight into the routine you already have.
I’m part of a lovely parent community over on Instagram where we share lots of informative things, advice, photos and mostly just there to support parents because parenthood is TOUGH. We have fun hashtag challenges to join in with and share all your posts!