When you have a toddler and a baby, keeping your baby safe and out of reach of the toddler can be a struggle! I remember wondering if I would have to hold my newborn ALL the time, or if I’d ever get to go to the bathroom in peace! I felt like I’d never safely get to set him down.
Baby gates are your best friend.
The best thing I ever did was to gate off a “safe zone” in my home. My whole living room is baby proofed and gated off so I’m able to keep the craziness contained when I needed to.
In the early days with 2 under 2 I would often shut us in the living room or use the gated area to keep my toddler and baby separated when needed.
The times I would use the gate to keep the kids separate were mostly when I needed to cook/clean in the kitchen, or if I were going to shower/use the restroom.
I had the baby’s swing in the living room, so I’d lay him in there for a nap and then shut the gate so my toddler couldn’t disturb him. She would hang out with me in the kitchen while I cooked etc.
Close Supervision and teaching
Starting from the day we brought Jasper home, I encouraged my toddler when she wanted to see or touch the baby. I didn’t want her to be afraid of him or resentful if he was a “no-no!”
Instead of saying “don’t touch” or “no!” I would tell her to be gentle and show her with her hand how to touch the baby in a gentle and appropriate way.
Keep realistic expectations.
Regardless of how many times I corrected my toddler or how many times she showed me that she could touch her brother gently, I knew, she’s a toddler. You simply must watch them closely when near the baby. She does SO good with him, and yet still tries to poke him in the eyeball sometimes.
It can be exhausting but having 2 under 2 means constant vigilance if the toddler can reach the baby.
How do I get anything done if I have to be so vigilant?
- Create safe places to lay the baby (use baby gates or whatever you’ve got!).
- Keep the baby next to you in a bouncer so you can keep a close eye on him.
- Lay baby in the crib to play when you need him to be safe and out of reach for a minute, like to shower or use the restroom (this worked great for me until he was about 5mo and my toddler learned to climb in with him…).
- Wear baby in a baby carrier
You get into a rhythm
I didn’t even realize it until I started writing this post, but it’s all become a habit. No matter what I’m doing, I either have the baby with me or in a safe place.
If the baby is playing on the floor, I’m actively keeping the toddler with me, or keeping an eye out to make sure she’s not harassing her brother.
Either way, one of the children is either always with me or if I’m alone for a minute I used the baby gates to separate the kids.
I’m saying this as an encouragement. Something that takes thought and planning in the beginning, soon becomes second nature.
It gets better
As your toddler gets older, they learn and do better with the baby. And as your baby gets older, they get a little less fragile. Brynlee recently learned to keep her face away from our 7mo’s face when he started pulling her hair!
I’m 7 months into life with 2 under 2, and while I’d never leave the kids unsupervised in a room together. I can turn around to make a cup of coffee without fearing major injury.
Involve your toddler
I know I mentioned keeping the kids separate quite a bit. But that’s primarily for when you’re busy changing laundry loads, prepping supper, or doing life things.
Whenever possible, involve your toddler in life with the baby! Becoming an older sibling is an adjustment, my girl got SUPER whiny when I brought her baby brother home! With a little time and encouragement, she took the role of big sister and is rocking it!
Toddlers love being helpers!
When your toddler has a job to help with the baby and they receive thanks and praise for being a helper, their whole attitude changes. Your toddler will go from whining for your attention and competing with the baby, to being a part of the “fun.”
Little jobs your toddler can help with:
- Bringing a diaper/wipes for baby’s diaper change
- Bringing you a water bottle when you sit down to nurse baby.
- Getting out a board book to read or special toy while you nurse baby.
- Singing or talking to baby during a diaper change (when we first came home with baby, my 15mo would pet our newborn’s head and say “cryin!” if he was upset while I changed his diaper).
Just letting your toddler be an active part of baby-care while you talk with them and narrate what you do can be fun and greatly help eliminate toddler whining!
You’ve got this mama!
Life with 2 under 2 is a constant juggling act. There are so many balls in the air, and you’re doing great keeping the important ones up. Give yourself a pat on the back, you’re amazing mama!