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Surviving the first few months with a newborn and toddler at home

Posted by Benedict Chude on

I’m expecting a second baby in November. My first son, a total mama’s boy, will be three. I’m shaking in my oversized pregnancy pants just thinking about what will go down in our house those first few months.

Who better to ask for advice than those who’ve ventured into this territory before me? I reached out to a bunch of moms (and one dad) I know who have more than one child. Thank you everyone for taking the time to share your inspiring, eye-opening advice!

So read on. Take your time and let the thoughts of these wonderful parents really sink in. There’s a wealth of advice free for the taking from each person’s experience here. (Bonnie’s even made me cry!)

And if you didn’t get a chance to get in on the post, please leave your advice below in the comments section. It’ll be a huge pay it forward for this mom—and all the others out there like me!

Keep up routines, praise and encourage your older children

“Every pregnancy is different just as every baby is different. So a mom whose first pregnancy was problem-free and whose first baby slept through the night at 6 weeks (I still think those moms are lying or have amnesia) may find that Baby #2 causes pregnancy heartburn while using her bladder as a mattress and then cries every 3 hours for the first 6 months.

In the end, we don't get to choose our kids any more than they get to choose us. And our older kids don't get to choose their siblings, nor do they choose to become siblings. That means those first months with two can be filled with blissful sibling snuggles and family naps or sleep deprivation and jealous acting out. Usually, it's a combination of the two that can vary from one hour to the next. So the most important thing for second-time moms to remember is that you're not just bringing home a new baby; you're expanding your family and changing the roles of everyone in it. Make one-on-one time for your older child(ren), encourage them to help, maintain established routines, and praise them for being the amazing big brothers and sisters they're becoming.

If someone offers help, accept it. Let go of how you like towels folded or the dishwasher loaded. If the towels and dishes are clean and you didn't have to get involved, just be grateful and don't worry about whether they're put away in just the right cabinet. You'll have years and years to fold laundry and vacuum floors. You'll have the shortest of moments to snuggle your baby while hugging your toddler. Make the most of it.” - Tara, mother of two and blogger at Inappropriate Outburst

Make sure your new routine includes quality time with your older one throughout the day

“Find a way to work spurts of quality time with your older child into your new routine. It sounds basic, but it’s easy to forget how important this is (especially if they are older and can fend for themselves) amidst the excitement/sleeplessness that comes with having a new baby. If you wait for that perfect moment when the baby is sleeping, the house is clean, and you are well rested it may never come. Grab a book and read to your child while nursing your new little one, create a game to play with them while taking care of baby, etc.” - Melissa, mom of two and marketing director at Beanie Designs

“I don't have any advice about how to care for a second newborn... I think most moms will already know what they are doing after having had one before. My advice is about the older sibling: I think it's really important to schedule a time every day to spend alone with him/her, away from the baby, so he/she doesn't feel left out.” - Gaby, mom of two and graphic designer

“My advice is this: not to neglect your first child's needs just because meeting your second child's physical needs is so demanding.  The first child is accustomed to being the only child so a new baby is a huge adjustment.  Dad can play a huge role in giving the first child the emotional attention he/she needs. Also, when both children are demanding to be fed at the same time, feed the older child first. It will take less time, and the newborn won't remember that he/she cried for 5 minutes before being fed.  The older child would.” -Sharon, mother of two and a speech language pathologist for children

Roll with the punches. Get help. And know an easier time is around the corner.

Go with the flow. And expect to be tired. My first wasn't walking or talking when my second was born even though they were almost two years apart (he was developmentally delayed). He always wanted to be held. He even tried to push the new baby off my lap while I was nursing. It was hard, then, but now I enjoy how close they are in age.” - Abigail, mom of 2, aspiring romance novelist and blogger at Chicklets in the Kitchen

“Don't get overwhelmed. It gets a little easier every day. Sleep when you can and don't worry if your house isn't perfectly clean. I had 3 in 3 years....I look back and'd I do that? I look like a zombie in all the pictures from that time!” - Amber, mom of 3, photographer and home schooler

“Having another baby is tough, but so much fun. My advice would be to let others help you with the baby when he/she gets here so you can focus on spending quality time with your other one. This way your oldest won't feel like the baby is getting too much attention.

While your time will definitely be split, try not to beat yourself up about it. Focus on getting quality time with your toddler...not just quantity. Read him/her a book, snuggle while you are breastfeeding the baby, let dad watch the baby so you can take your oldest swimming just the two of you…it will work!

There will come a time in about a month or two when your oldest will be laughing and making the baby laugh and the two of them will be sharing a special bond only found between siblings. When this happens, it will take your breath away because you will know that you DID gave that to gave them each other and that is the best gift you could've ever given them!- Bonnie, mom of 3 and blogger at Octopus Mom

“I know you worry when you’re having a second baby. In Japan, working mothers worry about adding a second, too. I remember back when you said you weren’t even planning to have children. [Inserted by Lisa: “Yikes! I really did say that, didn’t I?!”] But then you got married and had your son. It was totally great, right? Well, this is the same thing. Don’t worry. That leap from one to two is big. But after you’ve got a second, you’ll probably just want to add 3, 4, and 5!” - Yuji, father of two, sharing from Tokyo, Japan


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