40 ways to make your life easier when you’re living life with a newborn and a toddler.
Because babies are irresistible and parents are apparently gluttons for punishment, once we become pros at caring for one kid, a lot of us figure “why the hell not?” and decide to see what life’s like with a newborn and a toddler.
The good news is, it’s completely doable (we know this to be true because many people go on to have more than two kids). We’ve made a list of our favorite tried-and-true tips to make juggling life with a toddler and a newborn a little more manageable.
So take a breath, grab a snack, and pick the ones that might work for you.
Tips To Help Your Toddler
Get A Baby Doll
Before the baby arrives, give your toddler (regardless of their sex) a baby doll to take care of. Let them try out diapering, feeding, napping, pushing in a stroller, baby wearing and anything else you think you might be doing with their new sibling once they arrive. Help your toddler practice being quiet during the baby’s sleeping times, too.
Talk A Lot
Read books, watch shows, and have conversations about becoming a big brother or sister. Talk about your belly and the little person growing inside. Encourage lots of questions.
Let Them Decorate
Let them help out with small touches decorating the baby’s nursery if you’re setting one up.
Get Them A Gift From The Baby
Get a “Big Brother/Sister” gift for your toddler “from the baby” that you can give them when they first meet. A little bribery never hurt anyone. Remind your toddler that their needs are important too by also telling the baby to “wait” when you need to help your toddler with something. Your big kiddo will be very used to being asked to hang on while you tend to the needs of your newborn, so it’s super affirming for them to know that sometimes the baby has to wait while they get their butt wiped, too.
Make Time For The Two Of You
Make a special time for you and your toddler during one of the baby’s naps (not the one where you’re supposed to be having time to yourself, though!) Plan a quiet activity like a craft, stories or games, that the baby might interrupt if they were awake.
Make The Most Of Story Time
Have your toddler pick out some of their favorite books to read together while feeding the baby. If it’s too hard to hold onto a book while you nurse or bottle feed, choose a TV show or let them pick a game on their tablet that they can play while you cheer them on (yes – screen time is okay!)
Let Them Help Out
Encourage your toddler to help where they can, whether it’s grabbing a clean diaper, getting a new onesie for the baby or helping sing the baby to sleep.
Save The Big Kid Bed For Later
If your toddler is still sleeping in a crib, do not rush to put them in a big kid bed. A crib is a safe place to keep your kiddo contained and entertained (if you give them some books and safe toys to play with). Consider the crib a gift from the parenting gods, and do not take it for granted.
Invest In An Alarm
If your toddler is a little escape artist, investing in a home alarm or a monitor to keep an eye or ear on them can give you peace of mind when you’re busy tending to the baby or having a nap of your own.
Stick ‘Em In The Tub
Stock up on stuff to keep your toddler busy in the tub. Bath toys, bath crayons, bath bombs, bubbles (the kind you blow and the kind you pour into the water), popsicles (seriously – try it). The tub is a perfect place to keep your kiddo contained and entertained, and as long as the water’s warm, they’ll probably be happy to splash around for extended periods of time while you and the baby hang out next to them. (Here are our favorite mold-free bath toys.)
Enjoy The Sunshine
Try to get outside when you can to get fresh air for yourself and help your toddler burn off some extra energy.
Let Them Get Their Own Snacks
Inevitably, your toddler will be starving the minute you start to feed the baby or get busy with another task you can’t immediately put on hold. Prepare a shelf in your cupboard and/or fridge with toddler-friendly snacks that they can help themselves to without having to ask for help.
Make A Special Activity Box
Prepare an activity bag or box for your toddler that only comes out during baby feeding time. Pick books, games, toys and activities that they can do quietly and close to you so you can keep an eye on them.
Tips to Help You
Don’t Worry About Screen Time
It’s okay to relax your rules on screen time for your toddler once your baby comes along. The TV or tablet can be a lifesaver when you need something to distract them during feedings or diaper changes, or when you just need a second to breathe. This doesn’t have to be forever – don’t let mom guilt convince you that a little more screen time makes you a bad parent.
Don’t Ditch Daycare
If your family can afford it, keeping your older kid in daycare, preschool or some kind of playgroup can give you and the baby a chance to have some one-on-one time. Obviously, this isn’t an option for everyone, so if you have family or friends who can help out with babysitting once in a while, don’t hesitate to ask.
Netflix And Snuggle
Some days, the best thing to do is just have a big ol’ snuggle in bed with your baby, toddler, and some Disney+.
Give Yourself Some Wiggle Room
If you’re meeting up with someone, give them a window of when you will arrive instead of a specific time. For example, say “between 9 and 9:30” instead of 9. Getting out of the house with a toddler and a newborn can be challenging to say the least, so removing the stress of being late is a total game changer. Orrrr you can always ask them to come to you.
Don’t Overdo It
Try not to plan more than one outing per day. If you happen to squeeze something else in while you’re out, you can pat yourself on the back. Trying to juggle errands, naps, diaper changes and feedings can be challenging so don’t overload your plate.
Always Have A Spare
Keep a backup of sleepers, diapers and snacks in a handy place, like the trunk of your car. It’s a guarantee that you will forget to restock your diaper bag at least once, so having a backup is always a good idea. (Here’s how to pack an “Oh Shit” baby kit for the car.)
Keep Meals Simple
Make a list of easy meals and the ingredients you need to make them. Send the list to someone else to grab for you, or take it along to the grocery store to make for a quicker trip. Better yet, see if your favorite grocery store has online ordering and/or delivery services. They’re a lifesaver.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Ordering takeout is okay. Cereal for dinner is okay. Mac and Cheese is okay. Throw some carrot sticks on the counter and give yourself a pat on the back. Your family has been fed.
Stockpile The Freezer
If you can find the time before baby #2 arrives, make yourself some freezer meals that you can throw in the oven or in a crockpot for dinner. Your future self will thank you.
Get A Meal Subscription
What better time to try out a meal subscription service if it’s something your family can budget for?
Invest In A Cleaner
If your family can afford it, hire a cleaner to pop in a couple of times a month and do the chores you hate, like cleaning bathrooms or vacuuming carpets, so all you have to worry about is giving the counters a wipe once in a while.
Become A Laundry Master
Figure out a laundry system that works for your family. Give everyone their own baskets, have piles for darks and whites, whatever works. Oh, and get your toddler to help put their clothes away. And just remember – once the drawer is closed and the clothes are inside, you don’t need to refold anything. Wrinkly pajamas are fine.
Set Up A Meal Train
If you aren’t comfortable asking for help, see if you can get a family member or friend to set up a meal train or care calendar where people can sign up to help in specific ways. Some good websites to use are mealtrain.com and carecalendar.org.
Lower The Bar
A messy house is okay. Piles of laundry are okay. Lower your standards and give yourself grace to not have everything meet a standard of perfection.
Find Time To See Your Friends
If you have friends who are home during the day, try to schedule a walk or a playdate to give you a chance to have some adult interaction.
Brush Your Hair (But Only If You Want To)
Some days, you won’t feel like getting dressed, and that’s okay. Some days, you won’t have time to have a shower, and that’s okay. You don’t have to wear makeup. But it can feel good to do those things, too. Don’t pressure yourself, but it can help shift your mindset to throw on a clean pair of yoga pants and brush your teeth before kicking off the day.
Shower At Night
If you’re finding it hard to bathe during the day, try doing it after the kiddos are asleep at night. It’ll at least help you feel a little more human when you wake up in the morning.
Line Up The Kids’ Naps
If it’s possible, try to line up one of your baby’s naps with one of the toddler’s naps. This can give you a second to rest, catch up on social media, read a book, eat, or whatever you need to do for yourself. Sure, you could throw in a load of laundry and do some dishes, but you don’t have to. It’s okay to use nap time as your time to recharge without catching up on chores.
Make Quiet Time A Must
If your toddler doesn’t nap, institute a mandatory window of quiet time in their room where they can read or play, but they can’t come out.
Just Say No
It’s okay to say no to things. Playdates, phone calls, parties, you name it. If you are feeling drained, don’t add extra things to your schedule.
Find People To Check In
Have a friend or family member (or a few) check in with you to see how you are doing every day or two, especially at the beginning. Sometimes, it can be hard to reach out. It’s okay to ask for help and to be honest when the days are hard.
Become A Pro At Babywearing
Babywearing is a helpful way to keep your newborn close while hanging out with your toddler, whether it’s for an outing or spending time at home. Find a carrier that’s easy for you to get on and off by yourself and is comfortable to wear for extended periods of time.
Splurge On A Baby Swing
Invest in a really good baby swing to give you some hands-free time to yourself or with your toddler.
Find A Routine That Works
Create routines. Not schedules. Toddlers thrive on knowing what to expect during the day. Nothing needs to be minute by minute, but if they have a general idea of what’s coming up next, things can go a lot more smoothly. Include outdoor time or a special activity that your toddler can look forward to every day but most importantly – keep it simple.
Don’t Ever Forget – You’re A Good Mom
Remind yourself that this is new. Even though it might feel like you are failing, it takes time to get in a groove – just like it did the first time around. Reach out to your support network and accept offers of help. You are a good mom and you’re doing a great job. Each day will get a little easier.
Did we miss any tips that helped you to kick ass at life with a newborn and a toddler?
We’d love to hear them in the comments!
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