The singleton is coming! Tips for infant+toddler
June 19, 2014 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Baby #2 is coming at the beginning of August, and #1 will be almost 17 months. We're very excited, and wanted them close together, but I can't quite wrap my head around how it will actually work. So great hive what are your tips, tricks and experiences handling two under two, or two very close together?

I was interested in peoples responses this question about having twins+toddler, but there weren't many, maybe because twins aren't as common an experience. Hoping there's more general baby plus toddler advice.
posted by pennypiper to Human Relations (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
My kids were 2 years apart, and l survived. :)

The second kid became the "tagalong" kid. She napped in the car a lot on the way to taking big sister to the park, toddler gymnastics, whatever.

Now, i don't remember getting a lot of rest that first 18 months or so. My husband (only source of income) was the one whose sleep was prioritized 90% of the time.

You just make it work. We didn't always eat the best, but everyone was fed, clean, and happy.
posted by heathrowga at 10:35 AM on June 19, 2014

It was a lot easier than I expected (mine are 18 months apart). Our second was a good napper and generally good natured so she was happy just being dragged around to the toddler's activities, sleeping on the run.

I found a double stroller cumbersome but I loved a sling/umbrella stroller combination, so that we could do a combination of carry/ride/walk depending on each kid's needs at the moment.

The baby slept in our room for the first several months, for at least part of the night, so getting them into the same room was a slower process rather than "your bed is now the baby's bed, good luck".

My toddler got a lot of attention in the form of "snuggle with mama and read or watch a show while the baby nurses" but it didn't hurt her.

They're a bigger pain now that they're 11.5 and 10 years old, quite honestly.
posted by padraigin at 10:45 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Relax your standards. A lot if you have to. Adding another baby is an exponential increase of clutter and crap and laundry.

If parking one or both in front of Sesame Street for a few minutes buys you time to grab a shower, it will be okay.

Outsource as much of daily upkeep as you can, to keep your sanity. If you can buy groceries on-line, great. If you can decide to order dinner in two nights a week, awesome. If you can afford a cleaner, even better.

I recommend finding a neighborhood kid around the age of 10 or 11, who would want to earn $15 a week to come to your house to entertain the kiddos from 4:00 to 5:30 while you, nap, cook dinner, take a shower, vacuum, read a magazine or just sit in the corner and stare at the ceiling. It's good for everyone.

The sooner you get the toddler out of diapers, the better it is for you and your wallet. So try toilet training the second you notice that s/he is ready.

Mazel-Tov on your addition!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:59 AM on June 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

My kids are 18 months apart and my youngest just turned one this week!

For the first few months, we did a lot of "divide and conquer". My older kid got a lot more dad time, starting with the last month of my pregnancy when carrying her up the stairs was pretty tough. We kept her in daycare while I was on maternity leave, because she is a kid who thrives on routine and because her nickname is "the tornado" and I wanted to actually recover from having a kid and stuff. She still gets more time with my husband, because they go to bed at the same time and the baby's still nursing, so I do baby bedtime while my husband does toddler bedtime. We acknowledge that this isn't the ideal method but it's temporary and way easier than trying to switch it up with bottles and stuff.

As the baby got a little older and started interacting more, we started including the toddler on basic stuff - helping pick the baby's shoes, picking a toy to share with her, amusing the baby during diaper changes. She liked this and was happy to do it, mostly, but if she resisted we didn't force it and made sure to give her some one-on-one attention as soon as we could.

We did the same as padraigin with the baby in our room at first, and actually shifted her to her own teeny room as an interim spot, with an eventual goal of the girls sharing a room. We want the older kid to have plenty of time in her new-ish toddler bed before putting the baby in the crib in the bigger room, but we talk to the toddler about how the baby will sleep in the crib, and the toddler can help read to her before we go to sleep. A few weeks ago I made banners with the girls' names and hung them over their respective beds in the same room and we practice reading them a lot so the toddler's getting used to the idea of the baby being in the crib sometime soon.

Really, it all sort of fell into place way better than I expected. I remember a feeling of sheer panic the first time I had to take both kids with me to run an errand, but the baby slept and the toddler carried whatever we were getting and people cooed at them and I thought, "maybe this isn't insanity! maybe this will actually be okay!" and now, a year in, it really is.

My house is a giant mess, pretty much nonstop, and we are just starting to get the toddler into helping with cleaning. Naturally, this means everything is even messier now, but it should pay off in the long run. With two little kids and two parents working, the cleanliness of the house is the thing that had to give.

My older kid is a string bean and my younger kid is a pudgeroo, so they are actually in the same size diaper right now. It won't last much longer, but that has made packing the diaper bag way simpler.

We've made it a priority that I still get one-on-one time with the older kid. I do her hair a few times a week (takes up to half an hour) and we chat and practice counting and pick out hair ties and do colors and watch videos on the ipad (let me recommend Pocoyo and Queen music videos). My husband is capable of doing her hair if it's urgent, but it's a nice part of our routine for it to be a mom-toddler thing.

My siblings and I are close in age (one older than me, one younger) and I'm pretty close to both of them. It's something I'm grateful for, and I hope my kids are too someday.
posted by SeedStitch at 11:04 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

My kids were a minute apart, so I can't help, but a friend started a business based on this very thing. She has a website and just wrote a book about talking to the older child about the new sibling.
posted by pyjammy at 11:10 AM on June 19, 2014

It really isn't that bad. You will no longer be expected to have a perfectly cleaned home and car. No one will expect you to look nice on any given day. No one will expect you to be wearing something that isn't stained. Having two that close together gives you the chance to revel in the failing of perfection. And as someone who has failed at perfection, I can tell you, it feels fine. Buy several pairs of drawstring yoga pants and enjoy your imperfect, precious life. Also, buy diapers in bulk. Amazon will deliver to your door. And eat lots of ice cream when the children are having a bad day. It makes you a better parent.
posted by myselfasme at 12:16 PM on June 19, 2014 [4 favorites]

The New Baby by Mercer Mayer and my toddler would dutifully attempt everything depicted in the book with his new baby brother. We actually had to put the kibosh on rocking because toddlers rock too enthusiastically. (We also really liked "Digger Man" which is about two brothers and the big one teaching the little one about trucks.)

We hired a housecleaner to come every other week because we COULD NOT keep up with the children AND the house. It was a lifesaver. Otherwise, the second baby is definitely easier in that they're a tagalong and you can take them everywhere you're going with the first and they mostly get pretty used to that and mellow about it quickly. The first will be young enough not to remember a time before the baby was there by the time the baby is a couple weeks old.

Babies don't actually require that much mental attention; the only thing my toddler sometimes got jealous of was how much physical attention the baby was getting being held all the time, so get good at having two on your lap.

We also told my toddler the story of the day he was born (in a storybook sort of way with silly belly kisses and things), a bunch of times, in the couple of months before the baby was born, which seemed to give him a framework to understand the new baby's arrival, and when he wanted reassurance after the baby was born, he would ask if we could tell him the story, which seemed to reassure him that he was a much-loved baby too.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:27 PM on June 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

The two best books I found for older siblings are Hello Baby by Lizzy Rockwell and Mr. Rogers: New Baby.

But realistically my kid, at two, was just not developmentally ready to get a lot out of it.

One thing that helped immensely was that we had an opportunity to have Big Brother around another small baby frequently before Little Brother was born. He learned that he wasn't always going to be the center of attention, he learned what babies were and what they needed, and how to be gentle (like, it's good to share with the baby, but that doesn't mean drop the block on the baby's head).
posted by bq at 1:45 PM on June 19, 2014

One word of caution, based on my story:

Older sister always got the pink cereal bowl, because the baby didn't really care. Until the baby got old enough to care, then it became a war every day to get the coveted pink bowl.

Solution: Just buy another pink bowl.
posted by CathyG at 5:16 PM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

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