During my second pregnancy, I was so busy raising my 3-year-old son Leo that I hardly thought about what life would be like with two kids. But once Eva arrived, all hell broke loose. I never had the free time to get things done. I get up every two hours at night to breastfeed, and because my kids don’t nap at the same time, I never doze off during the day. Every time I started breastfeeding, Leo demanded my attention. Whenever I took my energetic son out of the house, I was afraid that my baby girl might be exposed to germs. If you’ve felt anything like this in your first few months, you’ll have questions about how to manage this new dynamic. Fortunately, we have answers from the experts.
When my first child slept, I dozed off a lot. Now I’m stuck playing slide and ladder games —- exhausted. How can I get more rest?
As tempting as it may be to play Super Mom, remember: No one wins a medal for doing it all alone. You need the help of two kids. When someone offers help, say yes, and if no one offers help, ask for it. If you’re pumping, delegate the first nighttime feeding to your partner, advises Dr. Jodi Mindell, a parent consultant and author of Nighttime Sleep. Once your baby is about 8 weeks old, she may begin to develop a predictable sleep pattern, and you can adjust her nap schedule so that at least one nap matches her sibling’s. By 12 weeks, she is developmentally ready for sleep training, which will have the greatest impact on your ability to get the rest she needs.
When I dragged my older child to kindergarten, my child napped in his car seat. Is it bad that he doesn’t always sleep in his crib?
Nope. Your older child has a life of his own. If that means your baby needs a nap in the car seat, stroller or baby carriage every now and then, so be it. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics WHO, having your baby nap in a crib is still the safest way to prevent sudden infant death syndrome. Dr. Mindell suggests: “It’s a good goal to have him nap at least halfway in his crib.” .
I worry that my child isn’t getting as much attention as my first child. Is she losing out?
There’s no way to give both kids full attention 24/7, but that’s actually a good thing. “You have to give your second child more independence,” says Ari Brown, M.D., a parent consultant and co-author of Baby 411 and Toddler 411. Your baby will figure out more things for herself, which will boost her self-confidence and problem-solving skills. The second child also learns to assert herself because they’re used to fighting over toys and to their older brother or sister telling them what to do. The next time you are worried that your little one is not getting the attention she deserves, remember that she will benefit greatly from having a strong fellow child (and great parent) to help her through life.
I took my 3-month-old to toddler playdate because I had no choice. I was worried that he would be more likely to get sick. Really?
Your first child may have lived in a bubble, but this time you don’t have that option. Dr. Brown says: “Yes, he is likely to be more susceptible to illness early in life.” . But in the long run, it will actually help build his resistance to colds. Because his immune system is still immature, be sure to limit his exposure to children and anyone who is unwell for the first two months. After that, use common sense (like asking people to wash their hands before holding your child) , but don’t protect him from the world.
My two year old moving around our newborn, especially when I was breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is a common trigger for toddler tantrums – your child sees you holding the baby and feels left out. Try to create a special experience for your older child. Before you start breastfeeding, have him pick out a book to read to you. Praise him when he helps you, too, like changing your child’s diaper. Dr. Brown says, “Praising good behavior will give him the attention he craves.” . That said, don’t be surprised if it takes a while for him to adjust to a new family member. It may take him a few months to agree to share mom and dad, and even then, he may not like it very much.