And baby makes 4 – keeping your toddler sane after having another baby

Toddler Sane

We call it the terrible two’s and then we have another baby, because that will make things easier… Here are some tips for coping with the
addition of a new bundle of joy in your life when you already have a toddler.

What YOU see

You brought home a sibling for your child. Someone they can share life and laughter with. Someone who will know them better than anyone else. It’s a huge gift really, and yet…

What THEY see

There is a new interloper in town and they get all the attention.

So let’s look at it from a different angle

I have always said my ex could bring home as many wives as he wanted, as long as they were the cooking and cleaning wives and I was the wining and dining wife. (He told me I was the whining wife… but I digress :)) When you bring home a new baby, one who needs feeding every few hours, who needs holding almost constantly, and who cries, loudly, anytime their needs are not met, you have in effect brought home a new wife, a wining and dining baby and your toddler just became the cooking and cleaning kid.

We tend to work with the baby, and as soon as we can sneak away, we do the wash, make dinner, go to the washroom or see to the other 100 things on our “to do list”. And our toddler? Well, they can be independent can’t they? After all, they look so much bigger now than they did 2 days ago, before we had this new tiny little baby.

Plan of action

Our goal here is to make your older child feel like a wining and dining child. A bit of thought and planning goes a long way.

  1. Get a large bin or plastic tote – this will now be called the feeding basket/bin. You can decorate this with your toddler and some permanent markers prior to the birth of your new baby… outside and a long way away from your freshly painted walls.
  2. Go to the local toy store and purchase something new, something big that encourages story play, and something you think your child will get a lot of mileage out of. Personal favorites: little people products from Fisher-Price, my kids loved these.
  3. Go to the dollar store and buy a bunch of stuff that your toddler will like.
  4. Set up the feeding bin. The new bigger toy goes in, some old favorites, some books, and maybe a soft toy or two.
  5. Every day 1 new thing from the dollar store pile gets added, that way there is always a new adventure waiting for your toddler.

Using the feeding bin

When you need to feed your baby, the feeding bin comes down off a shelf and your toddler gets to play with it. When the feed is over, the bin gets packed away.

Why? Because we don’t want the novelty to wear off. We need to get mileage, and I mean serious mileage out of this bin.

After the bin is packed away, your baby goes down and your toddler gets to climb into your lap for 10 to 15 minutes of touch time with mom.

Why? Because touch time with mom is what they miss the most. That’s the wining and dining bit. Before the new baby they had all the time with mom they wanted, now, you have to carve it out for them. Spend this time together singing songs, counting baby toes, reading a book. Do whatever you have fun doing with your toddler, and let them chose the activity. If they can’t think of anything, give them some options, but let them have the final say (unless of course it is lets return the baby to the hospital… 😉 )

The most important part of the plan?

The 10 to 15 minutes of touch time.

Other uses for the bin:

As your children get older it becomes the rainy weather bin. Whenever it rains and they can’t go outside, they get to play with what is in the bin. When the rain is over, they get to pack it away. The novelty will never wear off. It can also be called the, “you are driving mom crazy, go do something else bin” Just keep playtime with what is in there to a minimum to maximize mileage.

With thanks to my mother who used “regenklotzen” to keep us entertained whenever it rained, and my nursing toddler who taught me the importance of toddlers who needed to stay connected with mama.


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