How I Do It: Bringing Home Baby #2

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  The rain cleared up yesterday so were able to make it to the pool.  And boy did we have a blast!  Wheeler finally perfected her cannonball and Effie learned how to float on her back.  While Logan doesn’t jump into the pool by himself, he loves to be thrown in.  His laughter at this is hysterical.  We got the floats out this time, and all sweet Vaughn wanted to do was sit in my lap.  Love that about him.  After burgers at my in-laws, we enjoyed the best ice cream and fresh peaches for dessert.  I really am going to miss these leisurely summer days when school starts back!
Wheeler and Effie, November 2009
I had some readers ask if I could do a post on how I prepared my toddler on the arrival of her new sibling.  It sounds like many of you are about to be in that boat, and wanted some tips.  Like I’ve stated before in all of my How I Do It posts, this is what worked for us.  If you have other suggestions/additions, I would love to hear them, so please feel free to leave comments.  I know my soon-to-be mamas to two would love any extra advice!
Wheeler and Effie, December 2009
First off, Wheeler was 17 months old when Effie was born, and she had just started walking.  This did help, and since she had just started, she was slow and not running all over the place.  Seeing as Logan and Vaughn are only 13 months apart and Logan didn’t walk until about 16 months or so, I was carrying two babies for a little while.  Either way, these were totally different experiences than when Logan was born, and Effie was 21 months old.  I was grateful to have a double stroller at that point, otherwise there’s no way I would’ve been able to watch two small walkers and a new baby.
The circumstances were a little different when Effie was born, compared to the boys.  First off, Wheeler wasn’t allowed to visit Effie in the hospital when she was born.  It was sad, but I completely understood the circumstances.  The swine flu was going around, and young children visiting the hospital weren’t allowed.  On top of that, Wheeler picked up pink eye while we were at the hospital, so when we came home, she couldn’t get too close to Effie.  I was definitely worried that their relationship would be impacted by these first chance meetings, especially because we had to keep reminding Wheeler to stay away, but it was fine.  They’re strong bond is beautiful now.  I just hope they continue to remain as close for years to come.  Coming from all sisters, I know how tight that sisterly bond is, and I dearly want it for my girls too.
As for helping your toddler to adjust to a new baby in the home, here are some tips that worked well for us…
Keep a lifelike babydoll in the house.
I don’t recommend keeping the doll out all of the time, but at times show your toddler how the doll will be like the new baby, and put the doll in different scenarios.  Put the doll in the bassinet/crib, tub, stroller, babybjorn, etc. and show your toddler how this will be like the real baby that will be here soon.  This way your toddler will start to understand that a new guest will be arriving soon.
Keep your toddler’s routine as unadjusted as possible.
I realize this may be a little difficult, since adding a new baby will probably throw them for a loop.  But whatever your child is used to (pre-baby) like meals, nap times, play times, bed times, etc, try and keep them the same.  Once you start mixing it up, sometimes children aren’t as flexible as you think, and they may start to act out because things are simply different than what they were used to.  And they may blame the new baby.  Showing them that things haven’t changed all that much will help relax them and keep them in check.
Let your toddler help out with caring for the baby.
Sometimes this can be harder on you, but it really helps your toddler feel important.  They’re getting attention from you and connecting that with the baby, as well.  I realize toddlers aren’t able to help that much at such a young age, but make even simple tasks a huge deal.  Ask them to do one thing: i.e. pull out a wipe out of the box, hand you a diaper, turn off the light when the baby goes down to bed, turn on the switch of the sound machine, put the bottle in the sink, etc.  If they’re not into it, don’t force the issue.  Sometimes modeling helps too.  Ask your husband to hand you a wipe, and make a big deal about him helping you, while letting your toddler watch.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly he/she will want do it too.  Just be sure and make the tasks simple.  If it’s too complicated, they may get frustrated and give up/act out.
Having help to tend to your toddler.  Yes and No.
I realize that many of you are more than willing to have help from parents, in-laws, night nurses, etc. and that’s totally fine.  Whatever works best for you, remember.  My parents and in-laws live in town.  Thankfully, they were able to watch my children while Lanier and I were at the hospital.  When we arrived back at home with each of our new babies, we had one night to ourselves before they would bring the children back home.  I’m not saying they didn’t want to keep them longer to help out, it was me that wanted my other children home.  I wanted to get back into the routine of things, yes with a new baby added to the mix, but I needed them here.  For me, when other help is around, it often makes it harder for me.  I’m bad at delegating, and I feel like I can control things better when it’s just me and the children, getting life back to ‘our normal’.  With each child, it definitely took less time to get back into the groove of things.  With Wheeler, my recovery time lasted about four weeks before I started feeling normal again, and I was back out on the beach at 5 weeks.  With Vaughn, I was back at school watching Wheeler’s Halloween Parade and trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, a week after he was born.  Thankfully, my children are all still young enough that none of them had extracurricular activities, so I didn’t have to worry about getting them to their after-school activities, it was only preschool and then home.
Bring a gift to the hospital from the baby.
When your toddler visits the new baby, have a wrapped present to give them from the new baby.  Make a big deal that it’s a very special gift that the new baby wants to give them.  They’ll eat it up!
Notice that I’ve been saying “make it a big deal” a lot in my post today.  It’s just that toddlers love when you make a big deal out of the smallest things.  It shows them that they’re getting attention, and gives them the excitement that they crave.  Many times when your toddler may be acting out with the new baby at home, it may be because they feel as though they’re not getting enough attention.  I realize it’s hard to give them your complete undivided attention when your new baby needs you so much, but when you have a moment, take the time to read your toddler a book, play with their toys, give them a snack, etc.
If anything else, you’re doing an awesome job!  If you’ve had one baby, you know the ropes, so it’s just trying to juggle that and having a new baby.  You can do it!  The Lord blessed you with a second bundle of joy, and the relationship that your children will have for one another will be beautiful to watch, as they mature.  But enough of that, I want time to stand still!  Soak this time up because when it’s over, they’ll be all grown up and you’ll wonder where all the time went…though stressful at times, but totally worth it!
Hope y’all have a great start to your week!

6 thoughts on “How I Do It: Bringing Home Baby #2

  1. Love this post! I'm due with my second in November and they're only going to be 16 months apart so I'm worried about the transition. I'm book marking this to remember all these ideas- especially the present for the older child from the baby.

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