I recently met a new client who is getting ready to have her second baby. While I have a long-term design plan for them, in the short-term I will have to incorporate ways to make life a teeny bit easier with an infant and a preschooler.
Here are 15 tips gleaned from my dim memories of the early days with two.
- Invest in a sling or carrier designed for infants, and use it at home. You’ll need your hands free to wipe boogers and bums, prep food, play trains, find pacifiers, and make bottles. Extra points if you can pee without putting baby down.
- Depending on the age of your older child, you may be able to set up a bin, drawer, or cabinet in the kitchen where they can get their own snacks and drinks. When they realize they are STARVING, you may be in the middle of dealing with a 4-alarm blowout, or be trapped on the sofa while breastfeeding. If they know where and how to get what they need, it will empower them and prevent a meltdown.
- Keep ready-to-grab healthy, nutritious snacks and water handy for YOU, too. Meltdowns in sleep-deprived adults are not unheard of.
- Be prepared to change diapers almost anywhere in your house. Your older child may not be ready to be alone while you handle the aforementioned blowout. Set up small changing stations, or just keep diapers, wipes, etc., in the rooms you spend the most time.
- If you didn’t baby-proof for your first, or maybe you un-baby-proofed, DO IT NOW. You don’t want to worry about your older child getting into something or getting hurt on something while you’re occupied. And, if, like mine, your first child was a perfect angel and you never needed to baby-proof, I guarantee that your second will be a climbing, jumping, scavenging little heathen, like mine. It is very likely that you had all eyes on your first when they started crawling around, and were able to teach them what was safe.
- Whatever your older child’s routine, think about how to safely keep your baby nearby while getting them for bed. During bath times, baby may need to be in a bouncy seat with you in the bathroom. When you’re putting big sister or brother to bed, it may be best to carry baby in a sling or carrier, or move that bouncy seat into the bedroom. You’ll want a comfy chair in the room in case baby needs to be fed in the middle of all this.
- Ideally, baby will sleep near you and NOT near your older child. You may have blocked from your memory the fact that you and your partner will not sleep through the night for at least 6 months, if you’re lucky. You will be getting up to change, feed, and settle your baby several times every night for the foreseeable future. If you have the space, ensure middle-of-the-night festivities happen in a different part of the house.
- Hopefully this can all happen without your older child waking up. A white noise machine in their room can help immensely.
- Stumbling up or down stairs in a sleep-deprived state is not a good idea, for your safety as well as your baby’s. Plan for your newborn to be in a bassinet, co-sleeper, or other safe sleeper designed for infants, in your bedroom or in a room close by for the first weeks. Maybe longer, depending on your baby, and definitely on the same level of the house.
- When you decide you and baby are ready, move them into their crib in their own room. You may still be getting up at night with them, so you should have a comfy chair in the nursery that you can fall asleep in, or even a bed. A client once told me she was glad we invested in a sleep sofa in her son’s nursery because she often slept on it.
- Don’t underestimate the benefits of a comfy chair. I’ve mentioned them twice already. You might want one in the playroom, too.
- If your older child is still sleeping in a crib, and you plan to use that crib for your newborn, you may not need to make that transition before the baby arrives. You will have a few months when baby isn’t ready to sleep in the crib in their own room. Depending on your toddler’s personality, they may feel better “giving” their crib to their little sibling after they get to know them better.
- Get out of the house with both kids. Your focus during the first weeks will be on maintaining normalcy for your older child, so your newborn will be napping, eating, and pooping on-the-go. Infants are portable and adaptable, at least more so than toddlers and preschoolers.
- Pack a ton of snacks in your diaper bag, and include changes of clothes for EVERYONE. Spit up doesn’t discriminate.
- Ask for, and accept, help. If you have two kids and no housekeeper, and your house is clean, you are cleaning at inappropriate times. Just one example.
Having more than one child is a roller coaster, for sure. It is impossible to realize how much attention you focus on your first child, until you have an infant who needs a significant piece of that attention. Welcome to multitasking like you’ve never known it before. I call it Keeping The Kids Alive. Stay strong. You got this!