Whole Parenting Family

12 Survival Tips: 2 kids under 2

2 kids under 2

Yes, some of us have had two children under two years old! Many of my friends’ children are further apart than two years, either intentionally or not. Some lost a baby, some struggle with fertility.

SuperBoy and SweetPea are 22 months apart. That means I had a raging toddler when I was pregnant (and throwing up daily, etc). That also means I had two in diapers, two who needed to be carried, and two who loved snuggling. Loved that last two out of three. Here’s a quick list of 12 ways I survived having two kids who were under two years old:

1) Pregnancy is tough. Take all the help you can get.

Your friend offers to host a playdate with your toddler and hers so you can lay down? Thank YOU, yes! Your mother brings over dinner? Thank you, yes! Your co-worker takes over the next big assignment so you can not stress too badly during maternity leave? Thank YOOOOOU! But really, despite being super sick throughout both pregnancies, I really do love being pregnant {10 Reasons Why I Love Being Pregnant Again}

2) Figure out childcare early on in your pregnancy.

Infant care is harder to come by than toddler. If your toddler is in a daycare situation, ask early to reserve an infant spot. If they have to be split up, try to ensure the infant is in a center close to your work so you have the possibility of coming by during lunch to nurse or bottle feed, and so you can get there quickly for pickup to maximize your awake time with babe.

3) Evaluate how your first birth plan went. Revisit your resources to remember handling a newborn.

We went with a water birth this time, still no pain meds, but wow! Love the water {SweetPea’s birth story here}. I definitely needed to re-read The Big Book of Birth, and The Baby Book by the Sears family to remember how it all goes down, and proceeds to go. You think you’d remember everything given it hasn’t been that long, but many a night AA and I were reviewing the Bradley Method and I’d think, don’t recall this part!

4) Figure out what’s least disruptive for toddler insofar as birthing plans.

Some folks have homebirths with their older children present. More power to them! A girlfriend from India told me she was at both her brothers’ births and it was so incredible for her as a little girl. We are natural birth at the hospital sorts of folks so my parents watched SuperBoy while we partied down at St. Joes with the midwives and amazing nurses, oh, yes, and our can’t-have-birth-without-her-doula. SuperBoy didn’t notice we were gone. {Plans for First Child When Number 2 Comes here}

5) Wear your infant.

It saves my skin. I can run after the older child who is in that constantly getting into things stage while not worrying about a screaming baby. I love my Sakura Bloom ring sling, my Boba, and sometimes my Ergo (depending on how far I’m walking.) In general, though carrying & wearing makes life a lot easier because you can still have two hands free to help your toddler. Or drag your toddler. Depending on the day.

6) Establish quiet time routines with your toddler.

SuperBoy has had a quiet reading time in his crib since he was probably 12 months? And even now as a 2year-7month old he has an hour of quiet reading time in his bed every morning, mid morning. He’s only allowed out of his room to go to the bathroom. And he’s not to play in his room. He really is just reading, singing, talking, swaddling his dolly “Charlie Dixie” in his floor bed. When SweetPea was born, he still had two naps a day, 9:30 and 1:30. He then had quiet time around 4-4:30 so I could either lay down with the baby, get dinner started, or pretend to clean (I hate cleaning). Even if your toddler has only one nap a day, give him or her that quiet time in the opposite time of day (morning–afternoon; lunch–later afternoon). It’s great for their brains. And for your pregnant/newborn stage.

People say you have to use a screen to distract your older child. I get it! I really do! You can use one, but it’s possible to not. We don’t. He reads or plays with toys or flips through baseball cards. Partly it’s his temperament that he’s okay in quiet time, and partly it’s my sheer determination to avoid screen time 😉 And lots of books on CD!

7) Learn to put a diaper on a toddler who’s in motion.

This is key. Also incentive to potty train as soon as he’s ready. SuperBoy was ready at 2. Thank God.

8) Sound machine or fan in both rooms.

If your children will primarily sleep in separate rooms, ensure they don’t wake each other up with a sound machine/fan. With a loud setting. We run a humidifier in the hallway outside their adjacent bedrooms all night in the winter. Sometimes we put it on the VERY LOUD switch because one of them is having a little protest cry.

9) Co-sleep with the baby.

This doesn’t work for everyone. In the newborn and little baby stage, it’s easier for proximity’s sake and night feeding, and has many measured health benefits for the baby who was inside you for so long to still be able to smell you and be close. Many people like a cosleeper side-car next to the bed like one of these.

It has worked for us but eventually we do transition to their own beds. We co-slept with SuperBoy for 3 months and SweetPea for 6. I can’t pretend the transition to crib has been easy for Sweets, but it definitely made it easier to nurse her back down in the morning, barricaded in with pillows before she could roll over, and then go deal with Mr. Cranky Pants while she slept til like 8 or 9am.

10) Nurse on demand.

Toddler melting down? Baby about to join in? Oh, but you’ve got her in the sling, so you can just nurse her to keep her happy while dealing with toddler behavioral experimentation.

11) Don’t make the baby the reason.

Why can’t I read to you the same book 80 million times? Because I need to change the baby’s diaper, then nurse her again, and then find her hidden burp.  Because mama’s voice is taking a quiet time. Or because the book needs a nap. Or because your trucks really need to visit the construction site dump we set up this morning. I try to not blame the baby out of concern that it could set up resentment down the road. There’s very little sibling rivalry now–him being over two and a half and her being almost 11 months–perhaps because they both get lots of adult attention with family around so much, or because we’re always encouraging their sibling love.

12) Encourage toddler to play with his baby doll.

I’d hear him say things like “Here’s a nice clean diaper” while patting his baby on the belly with a cloth diaper when I changed his sister’s diaper. Pretty precious! And I’d draw a lot of parallels like, Look your sister needs to be burped–why don’t you burp Charlie Dixie? Or, see, Charlie is tired. So is your sister. Let’s put them both down for a nap. 

I love having babies this close in age. They are blessed to have each other, and to not know life without the other. It is harrowing in the first few months because you’re concerned about number 1 getting the same undivided attention (yeah, that’s not realistic nor is it a healthy perspective for them for life) and you’re concerned about number 2 being just along for the ride. It will all even out. If you can stay sane, the leap to three will be nothing, right? (We’re not quite there yet!)

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  1. Andrea on March 8, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I LOVE #11 & 12, hadn’t thought of that. I’m totally tucking those tidbits away in my brain for later. (later later, not yet…)

    • Natural Mama Nell on March 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

      Yay! So happy to be helpful. It’s all about creative problem anticipation with two. Like, what could they possibly come up with and how can I head it off at the pass?