You just got home with your second baby, and there’s a toddler underfoot that wants your attention. We’ve got tips and ideas from moms who've been there.
Time management and a willingness to let a few things go (like dusting) are the keys to success when you bring home your family’s latest addition. We find that your toddler can be your best assistant when it comes to caring for your newborn. Not only will she be excited to know she’s helping you out, but it’s a great way for her to bond with her new baby brother or sister!
(Comments received via Facebook have been edited for length and clarity.)
Prepare Your Child Before Baby Arrives
You prepare yourself for when Baby arrives, make sure your toddler is just as ready, by letting him get to know his little sibling in advance through Mom’s doctor appointments and talking to Mom’s belly.
“Any time the baby would kick, I would let my toddler lay on my belly and the kicking always got a little crazier, [as if] to say ‘Hi’ to his big brother. We always took our toddler to the appointments to hear the heartbeat or see the ultrasound. Our oldest wanted a baby sister, so when he heard the news it was a little brother, he bawled. My husband and I picked out a few baby names, and our toddler had the final say in naming his little brother.” — Grace DeWaters
Make Time for Toddlers
It’s crucial to let your toddler know how important he is to you, so that he doesn’t feel usurped by the latest addition. Whether it’s spending one-on-one time with him, or making Baby wait just a minute while he shows you his latest drawing, a little extra attention will go a long way.
“Always finish what you’re doing with your toddler before rushing to the baby! The baby will be OK with a few extra seconds of crying, and the toddler won’t feel like the baby is more important!” — Abigail Ryan
“Make time to hold and talk with your toddler when the baby is settled or in someone else’s care. Also, don’t worry if your toddler doesn’t take to the baby right away — it’s not the toddler’s job to have a picture perfect reaction to having a new sibling. If we just keep reassuring them that they still have our love and attention and they’re not being replaced, they will learn to love and accept new things.” — Danielle Burwick
“Honestly, having a new baby myself last year, my simplest advice would be keep your focus on making the new baby fit your, your family’s, and your other child’s lifestyle — not the other way around.” — Chrissy Grimes Norris
“If both kids need your attention at the same time, give attention to the toddler (excluding a sickness or life-threatening situation). The baby won’t remember if he had to wait. The toddler will.” — Amy Berger Meyer
“I put together a big brother kit that I believe is what made him bond so strongly with his sister; a parking pal (great to teach parking lot expectations!); and NEVER telling the older sibling I couldn’t do something because I was doing something with baby. We were very careful to say, ‘Bring it here,’ or ‘I would love to do that in five minutes,’ etc.” — Tina Pratt
Be Willing To Break the Rules
Sometimes the best advice for your first child just doesn’t work when you have two little ones at home.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps — obviously not possible with a toddler running around as well!” — Summer Helton
Take Advantage of Your Little Helper
Tots love to help and please their parents, so why not find a few tasks that they can do for you, like bringing you a diaper? It will give them a sense of accomplishment, and bring them closer to their new sibling.
“I gave my son a boy Cabbage Patch doll when I came home from the hospital so that when people came to see my baby, we also had them look at his. He also did a lot of helping with his sister at that time. Reassurance is the best thing.” — Michelle Middendorf-Williams
“I let my toddler help care for the baby as much as possible. He not only formed a strong bond with her, but also didn’t feel ‘left out’ as so many firstborns feel when the second baby comes along!” — Shelley Wykle Hebenstreit
“Make sure you make one-on-one time with the older child. Let him help you with the baby. Make it special that he’s the big sibling and getting to help. I also had a present for my other children from the baby and when they came to the hospital to see the baby.” — Donna Todd
Best Apps for New (& Second-Time) Moms
Download these apps to your phone or tablet, and make life with your newest addition a little easier!
White Noise Baby includes sounds like taking a car ride, classical music, and Doppler ultrasound of the wound. Help soothe baby into more restful nights. $.99 iOS, Android
Milk Maid helps pumping moms manage their breast milk. $2.99 iOS
Total Baby helps parents log and manage everything from feedings to doctor visits, as well as allergies and sleeping schedules. $4.99 iOS
Baby Connect allows parents to track daily information about feedings, diapers, sleep, activities, medicine, and even photos. Free iOS, Android
Baby Monitor 3G turns any two phones, tablets or Macs into a baby monitor. $3.99 iOS, $3.79 Android
My Baby & Me offers photo and video services that let you track your baby’s development and special moments. Free iOS
Sweet Baby is an online baby book designed to capture video, photos and text of all your baby’s developmental milestones. Free iOS
Baby Bundle merges all the features of several apps — like photos, appointments, and medical information — into one app designed by a pediatrician. Free iOS
23snaps is a photo and video app that helps you build a family album that can easily be shared with others. Free iOS, Android, Windows