So you've got a toddler and are due to pop out number two? Read on for my top tips on making your life easier.
- A good sling. My daughter Matilda was 2.5 when Benji came along, so she still needed (needs) me a lot. Toilet training, playing, lifting, these are all tasks that require you to be able to devote both hands to your toddler. Unless you've got some sort of mythical dream baby, chances are they won't want to be put down for long periods of time, so unless you want a backdrop of screaming while you deal with your toddler, get a sling. I liked the Close Caboo for the first 6-9 months, it's stretchy and soft so you can just pop baby in and out as needed without taking it off. This made my life a lot easier. I moved on to a Didymos ring sling for the same reason. With Matilda I'd used the Baby Bjorn and an Ergo, both of which have good points, but they are clunky and cumbersome and uncomfortable to keep on if there's no baby in there. To find what works for you see if you have a sling library nearby. That way you can try out a few slings and get expert advice before shelling out.
- A baby friendly necklace. Well I would say that wouldn't I. But I've only been making them for four months, and started doing so as Benji loved playing with my necklace so much when in the sling (where he spent the majority of his first 8 months). Also if your kids are anything like mine you'll be getting mauled and pulled about for the foreseeable future there's no way normal jewellery would survive, so if you want to accessorise anytime soon, get something baby proof.
- If both are screaming, tend to the toddler first. They might remember being left to cry. Baby won't. This piece of advice changed my life.
- You probably don't need a double buggy. If you've space and cash then do get one, but if either or both are in short supply, my advice is don't. We got a second hand Phil and Teds, which was great, but took up a lot of space in my small house! I got rid of it when Benji was about 7/8 months and there have only been a few occasions I've regretted it. Get a good sling, a buggy that can be adapted for either child (we had a Bugaboo Bee) and a buggy board.
- Try baby led weaning. I weaned Matilda on purees and spoon fed her. It was great as she ate well and the mess was minimal. Benji was not quite so cooperative and refused to let me feed him at all so I was forced into baby led weaning. Actually once you accept the mess factor it's pretty freeing, just dump a bit of whatever you cooked the toddler directly onto his tray and let him work away! You might even get a few minutes to eat yourself, or check Instagram, now that you're not spoon feeding. Admittedly it takes longer to clean up, but newspaper under the high hair then just scrumple it up and toss out. Quick wipe down of high chair and job done. On that note, the Ikea Antilop is cheap and fantastic with m no awkward bits for food to get stuck. If it's been a particularly messy session just stick it in the garden (or shower!) and hose it down. Easy peasy!
- Do whatever works for you. Don't worry about other people think. Always take the path of least resistance. As long as what you are doing is safe, if it makes your life easier then DO IT. Co-sleeping? Fine! Prefer to spoon feed? Great! Too tired to gently sleep train the baby? Just feed him and rock him and do whatever works and gets you back to sleep sooner. (I struggled with this for a while, until I read Gentle Sleep Solutions by Sarah Ockwell Smith. It doesn't really offer much in the way of tips to sleep train, more normalises the fact that babies just aren't great sleepers. It's immensely comforting.) You're not making a rod for your own back, you can't spoil a baby, and the baby is not trying to manipulate you. Do what is best for your family and if anyone offers a negative opinion just smile, nod, and say "Good for you. Not for me" (thanks Amy Poehler!). Take a breath and blow it away.
Obviously this is just what's worked for me, everyone's different and muddling through in their own way. Good luck and enjoy the journey. Xx