Adding a baby to your family is beautiful, but let’s be honest, it can also be taxing, particularly if you have a toddler on your hands. One of the biggest skills in life (according to thousands of parents) is being able to look after a baby and toddler simultaneously. Partners, grandparents and friends can make it easier, but here are my tips for looking after a toddler and baby if you don’t have help.
Create a Toddler Zone
When caring for a toddler and an infant, creating locations or “zones” around the house where the toddler can participate in independent play is important. Include child-sized shelves or bins to facilitate clean-up and allow your toddler to select toys that encourage autonomous play. Consider building blocks, colouring materials, other art tools, and play food and easy puzzles. Be sure that you have toddler-sized chairs and tables and that all products are child-safe. Add a kids gate/fence so that your toddler can’t just walk out. This will give you peace of mind when your back is turned or you’re attending to your baby.
Wear Your Baby
A toddler needs a lot of hands-on time from a parent – whether that’s playing, settling, cleaning or even hugging. It is a lot harder if you’re also having to hold a newborn. If putting the new baby down isn’t an option, consider baby-wearing instead. Baby-wearing will allow you to have your baby near you, and your hands will be free to manage your toddler and take care of whatever else you need to do using a sling or a wrap. To wrap your baby securely, make sure they’re standing up straight, with their chin off their chest and their face visible and near enough to cuddle. The Mama Collective baby carriers are perfect to throw on and go.
Be Prepared with Treasure Bags
You’ll love this one. A treasure bag is a pre-packed bag containing toys, art supplies, fun activities and snacks meant to keep toddlers entertained. Store these bags in hidden locations where you can reach them (or guide your toddler to them) when you need to focus on your baby. The surprise element of finding a treasure bag and playing with the contents will allow you to have some time to change a nappy, bathe the baby or even have a cup of tea when the baby is sleeping. Load the bags with whatever you think your toddler might like, such as cuddly toys, construction pieces, pastels, stationery, or soft books.