While welcoming a new baby is always great for parents and the rest of the family, it also means extra work as you manage both your toddler and your new infant. Having a second baby with a toddler can be challenging.
Preparing your older child for this transition by making them aware of the changes to come is one of the best ways to make this experience as enjoyable as possible. This calls for some adjustments, as your toddler may feel left out while you focus on providing the infant with the attention it needs.
Remember, your toddler has been used to getting all your attention and could thus feel resentful and act out. To ensure that you give your babies the attention and care they both deserve here are a few useful tips.
Best Time to Have a Second Baby
Experts recommend waiting at least 18 months after a woman’s first child is born before having a second one. This will help prevent complications like these from occurring. Preterm birth, low birth weight, and small size for their gestational age.
Anemia and other complications occur more frequently in women who have close-spaced pregnancies because the body of a woman doesn’t return to normal for 18 months after childbirth.
Preparing Toddler for the second baby
As a parent, you’re probably wondering how you’ll manage two children at once. Having one child can be challenging, but having two adds an entirely new level to the challenge.
In order to make the transition as smooth as possible, preparation should begin as soon as possible.
Communicate the baby’s impending arrival as soon as possible. Playtime with the toddler can also involve baby care. You could ask your toddler about the fun he’ll have when he has a sibling.
Have Your Toddler Attend Preschool
Let’s be honest, a new baby requires plenty of attention and it is often not the parent’s fault to focus more on the new arrival.
However, by enrolling your toddler in preschool you give them a chance to interact with peers and to engage in more age-appropriate activities. This could also make them feel special and unique.
The trick is to send your older child to preschool before the new arrival. This gives them time to adjust and prevents the feeling of being sent away because of the new baby.
This will help get rid of any feelings of resentment towards the new baby.
Telling your Toddler About the Baby
When is the best time to tell your toddler that you are expecting a new addition to the family? Well, it depends on their age. For instance, a 4-year-old will understand about pregnancy more than a 2-year-old.
That said, you may choose to tell your toddler after the first trimester. Depending on their understanding you will decide on the best way to relay the information to them.
It is important that you also talk to your older child and let them know what they can expect from the new arrival. Tell them that a new baby will eat, and sleep and eat and sleep again.
They need to be taken care of and need special attention because they are very small.
Tell them that they also needed that type of care and attention when they were younger. This will help your older child understand why you need to spend time with the new arrival.
That said, remember to also spend quality time with your toddler to prevent them from feeling left out.
Is it Harder Having a Second Baby?
You’ll never be fully prepared for baby number two. Being a parent and learning to find time for yourself can be the most challenging part of having a second child.
When you only have one child, you can still live a lot as you did before. You can still enjoy eating out or going on vacation. The second child brings a lot of changes;
any independence you had managed to maintain becomes a thing of the past, and you may have to figure out how you can still take care of yourself when you have two children.
Most Common Age Gap Between Siblings
Couples who conceive within 18 months of having their previous child have a median age interval of 24 to 29 months between children. Even though shorter age gaps are more common than larger ones, around 5% of births are accompanied by large age gaps.
Keep in mind that there are no set rules about age differences between siblings. Additionally, it depends on how you think about the situation and how your family is. There are still reasons why a difference in ages may be good for your family and you
Pros and Cons of Age Gaps
Small Age Difference (under 2 years)
- It is likely that your children will play together and will therefore be entertained by each other
- Pregnancy and early childhood can be handled in a short time.
- More siblings of the same age might inspire kids to be more creative.
- Your older child will also get a lot of time with you when you are on maternity leave.
- A rise in pre-term births and labor complications.
- A toddler might be jealous or resentful of a new baby
- You lose more freedom
- While pregnant, taking care of a toddler can be exhausting, especially if your calcium or iron reserves are still low from your prior pregnancy or if you have no help
Medium Age difference (2-4 years)
- This gap will give you the lowest risk of preterm birth and low birth weight.
- It’s the most common age gap, so you’re probably going to have your second child around the same time as your mom friends
- You can involve your toddler in caring for the baby by giving them simple duties
- You’ll know more about all things baby-related
- Save money by re-using the baby equipment your first child has outgrown.
- The age gap might be too big for the siblings to play together or have things in common for a while.
- You will have to prepare your older toddler for the new baby and learn to deal with the jealousy that may come from your toddler.
- The baby Phase is time-consuming, reducing the time you spend with your toddler
What to Consider Before Having a Second Child:
- Will cost more money
- You will both need to put in more time
- Agree on who will take time off from work to care for the baby
- Be ready that things may not go according to plan
Naptime with Second Baby:
Nap time will become tricky when you have a second child. Until the kids start taking naps at the same time, you will need to be flexible. If you have to take your toddler somewhere, but your baby needs to sleep, have the baby sleep on the go if possible.
It is relatively easy to put a baby to sleep in their early days.
It will also be beneficial to come up with a sleep schedule for your kids. Kids generally thrive when they have a routine.
Use a Sling or Wrap:
Sometimes it may simply not be practical to spend separate times with both your kids. A general alternative to help provide both kids with attention at the same time is to carry your infant in a sling. This will keep them close to your body while also leaving your hands free to handle your toddler.
There are many different types of slings and baby carriers available and the right one for you will depend on your personal preference and the interests of your kids.
Ask Your Toddler to Help:
A great way to spend time with both your babies and ensure that your toddler doesn’t feel left out is to enlist their help. For instance, you can ask them to bring you a diaper or a few toys for their new brother or sister’s arrival. You can even ask them to pick out clothes for the baby.
Furthermore, they may even help you when giving a bath to the baby. In the process, they learn that baby needs help with everything, and they will in turn feel needed and that they are great helpers. They do not feel left out.
Keeping Your Toddler Busy:
If there is one thing about toddlers is that they love to play. To keep your toddler happy and occupied to focus your attention on your infant, you can provide your toddler with different types of toys and building blocks.
Ensure that the toys are stashed close by so that whenever you need to keep your toddler occupied you can quickly grab them.
However, you will need to have 1:1 time with your toddler and play with your toddler when the baby is sleeping, it will be important for your toddler to know that they can still have your attention even with a new baby.
Another great way to spend time with your toddler is to read a story, for this, you can involve the baby and read to both of them., let your toddler pick a book for you to read.
Second Born Traits:
It is not unusual for a second-born child to exhibit opposite characteristics to their first-born – or to the child immediately preceding them. They are social, friendly, and peacemakers because they rely on their peers for acceptance.
Generally, the second-born child will be more independent and self-entertained, mostly because the parents will not just focus on one child but will split their time between both kids and the second child will learn how to entertain himself or herself when not given attention.
Having a toddler and an infant can be a stressful time in your parenthood journey. However, it doesn’t have to be, with a few tips and careful planning, you can manage both your children like a pro.