How to Parent a Toddler and a Newborn

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how to parent a toddler and a newborn Middle Class Dad a toddler boy and a new baby laying side by side on a carpet

My wife and I just had our 3rd child towards the end of 2017, but our older 2 daughters were only 15 months apart. Thus, we know firsthand how to parent a toddler and a newborn at the same time.

Here’s what we learned while doing it:

Parenting a toddler & newborn at the same time means compromise. You may be breastfeeding your older one & your baby also. It’s also hard to watch both when they want to do different things. So shared activities, coordinated nap times & encouraging play between them is the key to parenting both at the same time.

So in this post, we’re diving deep into the world of parenting 2 young kids at once.

We’ll answer all the top questions and explore some proven solutions that worked in our house. That way you can learn how to parent a toddler and a newborn without driving yourself crazy.

One thing most parents of both a toddler and newborn struggle with is sleep.

If that sounds familiar, I urge you to check out Baby Sleep Miracle (click to learn more on their site).

Developed by clinical psychologist and mother Mary-Ann Schuler, Baby Sleep Miracle guides parents with a simple and easy-to-apply solution to regulate the sleeping pattern of their children.

How can I help my toddler adjust to a newborn?

Having a new baby in the house is a HUGE adjustment for everyone.

A toddler may love the idea of a new baby before it gets here. But don’t be surprised if, after the baby is born and mom and dad are focused heavily on the new baby, that excitement turns to jealousy.

This isn’t the time to punish the negative behavior.

Instead, try saying something like:

“Being a big sister (in our case) is tough. You may feel sad, or mad when I am not able to give you all my attention and it’s OK to feel that way.

Having a new baby in the house will be hard on all of us, but the baby also needs our help and our love since she can’t do much for herself yet.”

As your toddler tries to adjust to these new feelings you may see moments of love and joy, but others of acting out. You might also see setbacks in poddy training.

Try to be as understanding and patient as possible. After all, you are going to be more tired and stressed than normal too, so don’t allow these things to cause you to be overly critical of your toddler.

Of course, helping your toddler learn How to Play Independently (click to read my article on how) can be hugely beneficial. So make sure and check out all the tips in that post.

Do toddlers get jealous of a new baby?

how to parent a toddler and a newborn Middle Class Dad crying toddler laying on a pillow in front of mom's pregnant belly

The short answer is yes. Most likely your toddler will be jealous of your new baby.

They may also be excited too. After all, toddlers are only just starting to understand their feelings, much less learning to regulate them. So make sure to acknowledge your child’s feelings. 

While it may be frustrating to see them react with jealousy, those are their feelings and you don’t want them to think they don’t matter.

Understand that your toddler may act out or say negative things.

As I mentioned above, try and help guide them and don’t punish them or make them feel bad about their feelings. Certainly, they need to know there are appropriate and inappropriate ways of expressing those feelings.

But as parents, we sure don’t want to teach our kids to fear being honest with us about what they are feeling. That could be a recipe for disaster as they head closer towards the teen years.

Of course, none of us are born knowing how to parent, so if you’re still adjusting, or having a hard time being a parent, it can be vital to really come to terms with the Role of Parents in a Child’s Life (click to read my article).

So why not take a brief moment and review some of those key points?

How can I be a good toddler mom?

A toddler is “technically” a child 12 to 36 months old.  Toddlers are unique. 

At this age, they are mobile and talkative.  While their language skills are really blossoming between 18 months and 3 years, it can still be challenging to understand them on the younger end of the spectrum.

Toddlers get frustrated easily, especially when you can’t understand what they’re saying. 

So it really helps to repeat phrases back as simply as possible. It also helps if, for instance, you are offering them a choice between fresh blueberries or a pouch, to clearly state what each is and what the correct response from them is.

I like to say to my toddler “Layla do you want blueberries or a pouch?” Then I point to each and say “yes, please” or “no, thank you” and I give her a chance to repeat back to me what her choice is. 

Sometimes I have to repeat that process a few times.

Do be patient, know there will be some tantrums and meltdowns and strive to help them understand and regulate their feelings.

Since you’ll be trying to master how to parent a toddler and a newborn at the same time, patience and finding a few moments of downtime for yourself is essential.

Luckily, most parenting challenges have been tackled before by the millions of parents that have come before us.

Thus, learning from those Common Parenting Issues (click to read on my site) and solutions can be hugely beneficial!

Will the baby get colostrum if you are nursing an older child?

how to parent a toddler and a newborn nursing mom in the background of a nursery with a star mobile in the foreground Middle Class Dad

Colostrum is what female bodies produce during pregnancy and it’s like a superfood high in antibodies.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Colostrum is rich in immunologic components such as secretory IgA, lactoferrin, leukocytes, as well as developmental factors such as epidermal growth factor. Colostrum also contains relatively low concentrations of lactose,. . .  Levels of sodium, chloride, and magnesium are higher and levels of potassium and calcium are lower in colostrum than later milk.”

Women who are breastfeeding one child while pregnant with another will expel a mix of colostrum and milk (what they call “transitional milk” to the nursing baby.

Colostrum is so high in nutrients that some doctors believe it is essential for newborns.

If a woman wasn’t nursing an older child, right after the birth of the newborn, she would expel only colostrum for anywhere from 2-5 days.

However, for women nursing a toddler who also needs to nurse a newborn, fear not. The hormones released during pregnancy will automatically increase the amount of colostrum for your new baby.

Best Outings with a toddler and a newborn

When babies are brand new, the challenges of learning how to parent a toddler and a newborn aren’t that bad.

Thus, when trying to run errands or have playdates with both your newborn and your toddler, they actually can go fairly smoothly.

After all, the baby sleeps a lot and is often pretty content in their car seat (which hopefully is easily moved out of the car and into a stroller.

However, once your baby starts teething and begins to adjust to life, they can get a whole lot fussier. Of course, your toddler is only slightly ahead of them in that regard too.

If you’re lucky, you can get both to nap in the car (that often worked for us, and Coldplay on the car stereo went a long way in helping).

Here are some of the best ideas for activities to do when figuring out how to parent a toddler and a newborn:

  • Playdates with other toddler moms – Having another toddler around will naturally captivate your toddler, giving you a little break. Getting to connect with other moms that are going through parenting stress can also be very theraputic
  • Zoos and Museums – My wife’s favorite quick outings when my oldest daughters were in that newborn and toddler phase were the Dallas Zoo and the (now closed) Museum of Natural Science Children’s Museum. We would buy annual passes to make it easy for her to pop over anytime and not break the bank.
  • Paint parties – My wife was the paint party master (and will be again with our toddler). She used an old sheet, would go outside when the weather was nice and used non-toxic easy to wash off paints. Our girls would have a blast painting themselves and the clean up was simple.

How to survive a toddler and a newborn

When you have 2 young kids, you’re naturally outnumbered. 

Thus, wearing your baby on your body can make life significantly easier.  In fact, it’s almost a must when learning how to parent a toddler and a newborn.

A newborn baby naturally craves mom. Thus these baby wraps that have been all the rage for the last few years help with that greatly, while keeping your arms free.

But not only does it free you up, but it can also make your baby SIGNIFICANTLY less fussy.

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that “infants who received supplemental carrying cried and fussed 43% less”. I don’t know about you, but I would LOVE a 43% reduction in fussiness in my house!

Wearing your newborn allows you to chase your toddler all over the place, whether you’re at the grocery store or the playground.

Not all baby carriers are exactly the same, and, of course, some babies respond differently to carriers than others.

Thus it’s a great idea to check with friends or online mommy groups. Try out a few if friends have some.

Find one that’s not quite right, try out a few more. Chances are, one of them will be right for you and your baby and could be a real lifesaver!

Check out all the Best Selling Soft Baby Carriers (click to check prices on Amazon).

How long does it take to adjust to a new baby?

  • Exhausted
  • Unsure you’re doing the right things
  • Losing your temper easily
  • Moody & Irritable

But also remember that it’s not just you that’s going through an adjustment period. In your case, you’ll be trying to help a toddler adjust also, so expect delays.

One of the best things you can do to help your family is to remember to take care of yourself as much as possible.

So don’t try and return to work too quickly, and don’t feel guilty about getting less done than you used to. Do ask for help and support when you need it.

My wife SWORE by an all-natural tincture called Wish Garden Herbs’ Baby Blues Mood Support (click to check current price on Amazon).  She took it when she was pregnant with all 3 of our girls.

Baby Blues is an “Organic Herbal Postnatal Supplement, Emotional & Hormonal Support for New Mothers and is for when new moms experience the blues post-partum. This powerful but gentle combination of herbs provides nourishing nervines, liver tonics, and herbal balancers to support healthy hormone levels.”

It’s also an Amazon’s Choice product on Amazon Prime and rates almost 5 stars.

Now that your family has gotten started, it’s also a GREAT idea to get a will if you don’t have one already.

Think you have to spend a lot of money or hire a lawyer?

Think again! To get a state-specific will that will be legal in your state, do what my wife and I did & use US Legal Forms (click to learn more on their site)!

We paid just a small amount of money for a mutual will which was specific for our state.

It was an incredibly easy process to download the form, fill it out, and now we have the peace of mind knowing our daughters are protected in the event something tragic happens to one or both of us.

As parents, one of the things we rely on the most is recommendations from other trusted sources. That’s the reason I created a page on my website for Top Parenting Resources (click to see my page).

I have compiled what I believe to be the absolute best parenting resources out there on a wide variety of needs. So no matter what your parenting challenge, I bet you’ll find a solution there.

Did we cover all the tips about how to parent a toddler and a newborn you were looking for?

In this post, we took an in-depth look into the realities some parents face of trying to parent a newborn and a toddler at the same time.

We explored what works, what doesn’t work, and tips and strategies to make it flow more smoothly.

Specifically, we looked at the best ways of learning how to parent a toddler and a newborn at the same time so you don’t lose yourself in the process of raising great kids.

Lastly, I’ll end with saying that having a supportive husband is crucial for wives who are trying to care for a toddler and a newborn at the same time.

I can also attest I was pretty clueless when my wife gave birth to our 1st daughter, so if your husband is struggling to relate to how hard your job is, it’s worth encouraging him to read my Advice for Husbands of Stay at Home Moms (click to read on my site).

If you like this post, please follow my Parenting board on Pinterest for more great tips from myself and top parenting experts!

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Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market.

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