Two Under Two
By Aimee Weston
Growing your family is exciting and having a close age gap between your children can bring some challenges but will also bring you and your family so much happiness watching them grow so closely together in age.
The thought of taking care of a toddler and a newborn baby can also feel overwhelming but we’ve put together some top tips to help you when you embark on this wondrous journey.
#1 When they first meet
It is a truly precious moment when your first baby gets to meet their little brother or sister for the first time. If you are staying in hospital, use this time as an opportunity to bond with your baby alone until the day you are due to be discharged. Have your toddler come to meet their baby brother or sister on the last day and leave altogether as a family.
When your toddler first arrives to meet their baby brother or sister for the first time, have your baby in the bassinet rather than in your arms, sit your toddler on the bed then place the baby in their lap. These two simple steps will help to get things off to a great start and minimise any upset from your toddler.
The first meeting.
#2 Getting your toddler involved
It’s important to remember that your toddler is still very young when your newborn arrives and not yet at an age to really understand what is going on. Getting them involved from the very beginning will make them feel less excluded and take some of the pressure off you too.
Whilst they might not be at an age to completely understand how to do certain tasks, doing simple things like getting a nappy from the nappy basket or choosing their baby brother or sister’s outfit for the day will make your toddler feel involved and more at ease with the new addition to the family who is getting a lot of Mummy’s attention right now.
#3 Arm yourself
As you probably know by now, having a newborn involves a lot of sitting around, feeding and changing nappies. It’s exhausting and whilst Mummy is already tired, having a toddler who needs entertaining does add to the load. To help relieve you, having snacks, toys and story books within arm’s reach will ensure your toddler is kept entertained whilst you are attending to your baby. Reading a story together ensures you are still bonding with your toddler and will give them the attention they need.
As your toddler gets older, their toys get smaller which means choking hazards for baby. Whilst your newborn may not be able to grab toys at this stage, it doesn’t mean your toddler won’t grab them and perhaps put them in baby’s mouth. Do a sweep of the toys and keep the small things packed away whilst your baby is around. When your baby is asleep, bring your toddlers toys out to play which also make them feel extra special too.
#5 Around the house
Your toddler suddenly has this real-life doll to play with and if only we could grow eyes in the backs of our heads to keep an eye on them. It might seem tiresome having to take baby with you wherever you go, but it’s a good idea not to leave them both alone. Having a bouncer or play mat in each area of your home for your baby means you can do the house chores and keep an eye on them too. Or use a baby carrier, if that’s what you’d prefer.
Make sure you have a safe place to put your baby down
"Having one bouncer upstairs and one downstairs was a life-saver for me. It meant that I had somewhere safe to put my baby down no matter which floor I was on. My eldest was potty trainning so we were up and down the stairs a lot. The Baby Bjorn bouncers last forever so if you don't want to pay full price, there's a good chance that you'll be able to pick them up second hand in good ccndition and/or sell them on." - Martina, founder NINE+QUARTER
By now you’ve probably established a good routine for your toddler and when the baby comes along it may throw things off track a little bit. It’s much better for everyone (especially your toddler) if you keep their routine the same and fit the baby around the toddler. As your baby grows then look at routines for them when you start to find your groove. Keeping the toddler’s routine the same will help everyone. Remember every baby is different and what worked for your toddler may not necessarily work for your baby so it’s all about a little trial and error.
#7 Bath time
Having your baby in a bouncer in the bathroom whilst you give your toddler a bath can work really well in the first few weeks, then when you feel comfortable, you can bathe them both together. There’s some great baby bath seats on the market to make bath-time easier for you. As we know babies don’t need a very long bath, so you can take them out, change them and perhaps feed them whilst your toddler continues their bath and splashes away!
#8 Bonding time
You might find you are missing your toddler in the first few weeks when your baby arrives. The dreaded post-pregnancy hormones certainly don’t help but depending on the age gap, you’ve only had a year or so with your toddler, bonded with them then all of a sudden you have another baby. Separate bonding time can really help to control these feelings. Give your baby to your partner and go and spend some alone time with your toddler, it will do you the world of good and allow your partner to bond with the baby too.
Having two children who both require a lot of attention can get very tiresome so don’t be afraid to call on friends, family or a nanny/babysitter when you need support. The witching hour from 4-7pm (depending on your routine) can sometimes be the hardest part of the day, dinner, bath, bed. Having someone there for you at this time on most days would be a huge help for you until you find your groove.
#10 And finally, take care of yourself and your relationships.
You might feel like a mouse spinning on one of those wheels and can’t get off, but it’s important to take some time out for yourself at least once a day. Find what makes you feel relaxed and more energised and take the time to do it. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup so it’s important to look after yourself. It’s important to spend quality time with your partner too. You are both working really hard to raise 2 babies, so you deserve to re-connect frequently and still have fun. Organise a date night every few weeks or just simply switch your phones off every night at a certain time and spend some quality time together.
Hopefully these tips will help you as you embark on the journey of having 2 under 2. It might feel like riding a rollercoaster half asleep most of the time, but before you know it, you blink and they’re off to school. Enjoy the ride, treasure the special moments, be present, capture the memories and have fun!
Since moving from Australia to London in 2011, Aimee worked in Project Management for a Recruitment outsourcing provider across Europe before becoming a Mother in 2015 to 2 happy and healthy boys who are 18 months apart. Since then Aimee has followed her passion and created You First Nutrition, a business focussing on coaching Women to become healthier and improve their overall well-being.