Preparing for a newborn when you already have a toddler is both exciting and completely terrifying. You’re thrilled about having a new baby and a new sibling for your little one. But you’re also nervous about suddenly having double the children. And you aren’t sure how your little one will respond to a new baby.
Trust me, I feel ya 100%. But I’m here from the trenches to tell you that not only is it going to be “fine,” it’s going to be amazing. Perhaps a bit chaotic from time to time. But amazing.
And these tips to survive and newborn and toddler will help you be ready for that beautiful circus.
I’ve had quite a bit of experience dealing with a toddler and a newborn. My oldest was just 5 months old when I found out I was pregnant with my second.
Did I cry on and off for the next two weeks as I tried to get my head around what was about to happen? Why yes I did!
I was barely feeling kind of human again. And then, suddenly, I was in for round two of the complete unknown. In the coming months, I was going to be a mother of a 14 month-old AND a newborn.
How was I going to cope with a newborn and a toddler? The first few weeks with my first baby were hard enough. How would it be with a toddler in the mix?
I’m not going to sugar coat it: There were definitely some rough moments where I was overwhelmed with my toddler and newborn.
However, despite its challenges it was actually wonderful. So much that we kept going: another sister came 2 years later, followed by my 4th girl 16 months after that. (Yes, my oldest was just 4 when my 4th child was born!)
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TIPS TO SURVIVE A NEWBORN AND TODDLER
First thing to remember is that each child will respond differently to a new baby sibling. My 4 kids ALL have very different personalities and responded very differently based on personality and birth order.
Your babies come with their own little personalities, ready to delight and frustrate you. Some strategies may be perfect for one kid and practically useless with another.
The goal is to prepare yourself with as many tools in your bag as possible so you are ready with what you’ll need. These tips will help you juggle your newborn and toddler.
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1. Ask For and Accept Help
When you have a new baby, friends, family, and neighbors are often ready and willing to help out. In fact, they often offer help before being asked. But if you’re anything like me, accepting help can be tough for many reasons.
Maybe you’re embarrassed by the state of your home, or that you still haven’t put on pants since you gave birth. Whatever the case, swallow your pride and accept help if it’s offered.
Your life will be much better and you’re giving someone else an opportunity to serve and get all the great feelings that come from helping someone out who needs it.
If someone offers food, you take that food and say “Thank you so much! I’d love that!”
If someone you trust offers to watch your kids so you can nap or wander the aisles of Target, you say “Yes, please!”
And holding a sweet new baby for an hour so you can take a nap might just be loads of fun for your friend or your empty-nesting neighbor.
And if everything gets to be too much, don’t shoulder it alone. People love you and want to help you. If they knew you were struggling, they’d come running. Call those people and ask for help.
Don’t worry about “bothering” anyone. You’re not bothering anyone. And if someone is bothered by you needing help, they really shouldn’t be in your life.
2. Wear your baby
Wearing your baby is a lifesaver when it comes to getting anything done and keeping your baby happy. Because you’ve got two hands free to throw in a load of laundry and clean the crayon your toddler left on the wall while your baby is perfectly happy nestled right up next to you.
There are an endless array of carriers and wraps you can use. Personally, I used the Baby Bjorn on all 4 babies (easy to use and they all loved it) and then graduated them to the Ergo Baby once they were bigger.
3. Invest in the right products
Living in a small house, I’m not one for stocking up on a bunch of useless baby/kid stuff. On the contrary, I like to only keep around the baby stuff that really makes my life easier. And the truth is that certain products are worth their weight in gold.
With a toddler and a newborn, these are a few of the products I most recommend:
- Double Stroller: Having a stroller that fits both kids is awesome. Makes walks and outings so much easier. We use this one for everything.
- Baby Carrier: As mentioned above, keeps baby happy and snuggled while you can get things done.
- Bouncer: Great for the baby while you get stuff done.
- Swing: Calms baby so you can give toddler attention or get other things done.
4. Shop online or Use Grocery Pickup
Trips to the grocery store can be a fun outing wit the kids, but they can also be a complete catastrophe if both children meltdown while you’re there.
But you can avoid trips to the grocery store by taking advantage of online shopping and using grocery pickup (often free) or grocery delivery (if it’s available in your area and in your budget).
Personally, Amazon Prime is a constant lifesaver. Instead of dragging my kids to the store for random household items (ex. birthday presents, diapers, toiletries etc), I can just click a few buttons and have them show up on my doorstep a day or 2 later. It’s well worth the convenience to keep my store runs to a minimum.
And the subscribe and save option (like toiletries, diapers, wipes, food) is awesome for those items you regularly need.
As for free grocery pickup, it’s been a lifesaver. Because I don’t even have to get my kids out of the car! They bring the groceries out to me. My local Walmart has free grocery pickup and I can just order online and pick up my order the next day.
It’s honestly one of my favorite things right now. As I’m falling asleep, I remember all the stuff I need to buy, so I can just hop on the app and order my groceries and then pick them up the next morning.
5. Keep a schedule
Staying on a basic daily schedule is going to be important for your children and for your sanity. Toddlers crave routine and patterns they can expect. Sticking to a basic schedule will keep your toddler happy. It’ll also give you a structure to follow when you’re tired.
Create your own or check out this stay-at-home mom schedule for toddler and newborn.
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6. Plan Time For Yourself Daily
As much as you adore your kids, you will need an outlet and a reprieve from 24/7 mothering. You may need some help in order to give you this space. This could come in many forms.
For example, you could:
- Get a friend to come over and hold the baby for 30 minutes while your toddler plays so you can get out for a bit.
- Your partner can take over for a while so you can take a nap, or a bath, go for a walk/run, go to Target by yourself, etc.
- Get a gym membership with great daycare so you can get your endorphin boost every day without worrying about your kids.
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7. Give yourself some grace
The adjustment from 1 kid to 2 can be huge. There is a good chance you will be late everywhere you go. Getting out the door will be tough and may even seem impossible on some days.
Between toddler tantrums and baby diaper blowouts, things are simply going to take longer. Plan for extra time and be gentle with yourself.
I think one of my favorite quotes about writers block, applies perfectly to motherhood: “Lower your standards and keep going.”
Before we have kids, we imagine we’ll be some Mary Poppins-Maria Von Trapp hybrid. But then reality is pretty different, as we rush around wiping up spit up, spills, and butts, longing for a shower.
Lower your expectations and be kind with yourself.
Seriously, some days just keeping everyone alive will be a major accomplishment. I still feel this way on some days!
8. Take lots and lots of deep breaths
Mama, this stuff is not easy. You will have moments of supreme happiness and overall, it’s awesome. But not always. You only have 2 arms and only so much energy. In those crazy moments where everything is going wrong and everyone (including you) is in tears, breathe deeply and remember that this time won’t last very long.
And when it’s gone, you’re going to miss it.
LIFE WITH A TODDLER AND NEWBORN IS AWESOME
You can do this, Mama.
Balancing a newborn and toddler may not always be a cake walk, but it’s definitely wonderful. And having kids so close together can be a whole lot of fun. It’s especially heartwarming when they begin to bond with each other.
There will come a day when your children will play together and be the best of friends. It’s honestly one of my favorite things about having kids close together.
Use these tips to keep from getting overwhelmed with your toddler and newborn.
(And check out my other posts below!)
You’ve got this!