04 Apr 5 Practical tips for coping with a newborn plus a toddler!
Expert doula tips
Are you expecting baby number 2 (or more) and wondering how on earth you’ll manage a newborn plus a toddler? Here’s some top tips from a postnatal doula on how to make it more manageable.
First of all, try to set your expectations at the right level. You don’t need to be super-mum! Just getting everyone dressed and fed is enough in the early days. Don’t be over ambitious with lots of
visitors or activities, and don’t expect too much of yourself or push yourself too far until you feel ready. Its OK to say no! Take the time you need as a family to bond and recover from the birth.
Planning ahead can be a great help. Have all your necessities to hand on a tray in the room you are likely to be- a spouted water bottle, travel mug for hot drinks, snacks, phone, TV remote, tissues, nipple cream, painkillers etc. Also having a nappy changing downstairs as well as upstairs helps to keep things manageable! Plan a few toddler games that can be played from the couch whilst you rest a little (especially if you are recovering from a Caesarean) e.g. torch games, hide the thimble, balloons, eye spy etc.
Have a special box of fun, quiet activities for your toddler to pull out during baby feeding times- include sticker books, jigsaws, threading games etc. Also try to plan special exclusive times for you and your toddler to play together so they don’t feel left out.
A new baby in the house will be quite a shock to your toddler, so do all you can ahead of time to prepare them and help them become a little more independent. Try to avoid big changes e.g. toilet training or moving from cot to big bed at the same time as baby arrives, so as not to associate the two.
If you are likely to need a Ceasarean, help your toddler to be more independent going up and down stairs, climbing into their pushchair, car seat, high chair or cot, using a step stool to help them and avoid the need for you to lift them. Praise your toddler lots when they do helpful things like fetching a clean nappy or bringing mummy a snack.
There are lots of ways to make mealtimes easier! Book a regular online shop to deliver the essentials each week, so your fridge is always full. Freeze meals in advance and ensure your cupboards are well stocked with easy meals to throw together e.g. pasta sauces and tuna. Find a few good slow cooker recipes your family enjoys, as these can be put on at any point during the day that you have opportunity and will be hot and ready to serve whenever needed.
Ask your partner to make you and your toddler a packed lunch to keep in fridge overnight, so you can just grab it without needing preparation time. Ask friends and family who want to visit if they’d be happy to bring you a meal. Perhaps consider something like www.mealtrain.com to make this more formal if you wish and to outline what your picky toddler might actually eat! And if all else fails, fishfingers, ready meals and take-aways are perfectly fine, just not every day!
If you have good friends visiting, ask them to come at toddler bath time, or in the morning so they can look after the toddler and baby whilst you get a shower. Wherever possible try to get a sleep during the daytime. Maybe your toddler has a regular nap-time, so you can plan to have a visitor then, so they can hold the baby whilst you sleep.
Don’t be afraid to have a list of jobs you’d appreciate help with on a sticky-note on your fridge! If a visitor has half an hour to spare, they can iron a few work shirts, empty your bins, chop some veg for dinner, or take the toddler to the park whilst you have a shower! A very good friend might even be prepared to clean your loo!
Consider if you would like to hire a cleaner for a while so you can focus on baby, or even a postnatal doula who will have lots of experience and willingness to help you with any of the things suggested above.
HIRE A DOULA
Janine Ebling is an experienced postnatal doula in Woking, Surrey who has spent time working as a midwife and has training in baby wearing. She really enjoys supporting new families in a nonjudgemental way. She has a gentle, caring manner and she can help to support you in your own home. As a doula she provides emotional, informational and practical support during the early weeks with a new baby. To book Janine, visit her profile below.