Just when I thought I was getting into my groove with my first, I became pregnant with baby #2. Although I had extensive experience looking after multiples before, this 24/7 gig was a whole new ballgame. I’ve recently shared my best Tips For Introducing A Toddler To Their New Sibling, so I wanted to follow up with how to safely manage a toddler and baby once the new addition arrives!
I’ve juggled several little ones in different childcare capacities, but when I became a mom of two, I felt like I had to relearn new techniques to successfully and safely manage a baby and a toddler around the clock.
Below you’ll find some great tips for common daytime situations with two.
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Safety when taking a toddler and baby out
Safety is and always has been my top priority when it comes to any babies and kids, mine and others’.
I’m not talking about a hovering obsessive “don’t let scrapes and bumps ever happen” kind of protection. What I mean is a “zero-tolerance to true danger” type of care.
I just DON’T RISK IT.
And this is what I keep in my mind anytime I go into a new situation with my little ones. Whether it takes me twice as long, or twice as much energy to do it safely, it’s a no brainer for me! (Safely. Always safely.)
Road Safety with a toddler and baby
Now that you’re a mom of two, I’m sure there will be times that you need to go somewhere with both kids. Appointments? Errands? Fresh air? You’ll need to get out of the house eventually.
Your firstborn no longer gets the safe strapped-in spot in the stroller, newfound freedom that I bet they enjoy! I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but even the most well-behaved toddler can be unpredictable at times.
Even if you disagree with that and think they are fairly trustworthy, trips and falls are bound to happen. This is why I’ve always had a hand-holding-near-traffic rule in our family. No ifs ands or buts. With zero negotiation on this, my toddler always knew she had to be holding my hand.
Another safety tip, which I learned by example from my own parents, is to put yourself on the traffic side when walking along the road or sidewalk. This way the child is further away from zooming cars and if heaven forbid they do stumble (or see a squirrel), they aren’t moving unexpectedly near the traffic.
Going for Walks with a toddler and baby
If you have two really close in age (or perhaps twins), safety harnesses can be really helpful.
Some people are really against leash-style backpacks, harnesses, and wrist straps and I totally respect that! But if you have a runner on your hands, then you know that sometimes that little protective equipment gives you the peace of mind that you need.
Should toddlers still learn street safety? Absolutely!
But in the meantime, I personally don’t think there’s any shame in using it if, and when, needed. (Not to mention, my daughter LOVED wearing her little backpack!)
Double strollers are a fantastic option if you need to walk most places. When I ran childcare from my home, I invested in an additional toddler seat for our stroller and that did the trick. (Previously mentioned in Consider This Before Buying a Stroller.)
Such a simple solution made outings more fun in a fairly busy city, and I felt more comfortable walking from A to B. When it was safe to do so, the two seated kids could get out and walk as well but it was a relief to have the option of two contained kids when needed.
For slightly older toddlers or preschool-age kids, a ride-along stroller board can be a fantastic option when out and about. I love that the kids can easily hop on and off as needed. And when you want them on, they’re safely between your arms.
Getting Into the Car with a Toddler and Baby
With a small baby and a toddler, all of a sudden you’re lacking hands to do what you used to do. How do you lift your toddler into their seat, get them strapped in while holding a small baby (plus diaper bag, keys, and anything else hanging on your arm)?
This is what I’ve found easiest, especially in busy parking lots:
- Hold my toddler’s hand with one hand while holding my baby with the other arm.
- Go to the toddler side of the car first and when safe to do so, tell your toddler to put one hand on the car while you unlock the vehicle and open the door. (Always keep your body positioned to block your toddler from running off if they decide to take their hand off and move.)
- With one hand, help your toddler into the car. You’ll help them into the seat later. Once inside, close the door. (Make sure there’s nothing inside the vehicle that can harm your toddler. If there is, you’re going to need to put on at least some of their seatbelt with one hand and come back to properly finish the job after your baby is strapped.)
- Go to the baby’s side. Put the baby in their car seat and strap them in safely.
- Now that baby is safe and contained, go help your toddler get safely buckled into their car seat with both hands.
- Voila! Ready to go with two safe kiddos
Do the reversed order when getting out of the car. You’ll probably get the hang of opening seat buckles with one hand so you can get your baby out first and the toddler second (since they’re more of a risk for moving near cars).
Playground Safety with a Toddler and Baby
When the baby is little, it is so much easier to use some sort of babywearing device while you supervise your toddler playing at the playground. It provides you with more freedom to move as you need around the park.
If that’s not an option, let the baby stay in the stroller very close to you (as long as they’re happy). Never leave them unattended! You should be close enough to hear them and see them.
When your baby is old enough to shuffle around the playground and you have to supervise two moving munchkins, always position your body so you can see them both.
You basically want to constantly create a V-shape between your eyes and your two little ones. This is a great technique for watching two toddlers as well so that no one is behind you, out of view.
If your toddler gets onto something that needs closer observation, pick up your baby and go close to the toddler.
Sorry baby, you’ll have freedom one day but for now, mama’s priority is safety. And it’s not safe to risk a toddler climbing high without supervision or leaving a baby unattended!
How to Handle a Toddler and Baby at Home alone
Bathroom Breaks with a Toddler and Baby
Who knew it was so tricky to find an appropriate time to use the loo?! Well, it sure can be when you’ve got two little ones.
Try to think of your necessities and plan ahead, whenever possible. (Think of your needs? What’s that?) I know, I know… You only think about the kids.
But, for example, if your baby and toddler are napping at the same time, take advantage of that moment before they wake! Or if your toddler is talking to their dad before he heads off to work, pass the baby to him and GO NOW!
For the times that you have the kids with you, be sure to find a safe spot for each one before you go.
I’ve fastened my little ones into their high chairs right outside the bathroom door before. Or, I’ve popped my baby into her swing and chatted to my toddler at the door (and within reach). You do what you gotta do.
If you’re in a pinch, you can also put each one in their crib or bassinet (not together!). They may not be happy thinking it’s naptime already but at least they’re safe!
Timing is not always (or hardly ever) perfect though, so if you don’t have anywhere really safe to leave your little ones, especially out and about, take them with you! You can use busy bags or other interesting items to entertain your toddler. Keep your baby in a safely contained spot, such as a car seat or a stroller (or even in your arms if you’re desperate).
Sure, it may not be ideal, but the famous saying “better safe than sorry” became famous for a reason!
Cooking with a Toddler and Baby
Cooking has to get done and sometimes you’ll have the kids to look after simultaneously.
Don’t take any chances when it comes to sharp knives or hot pots. Keep your kids in an appropriate spot, entertained, far enough away from you and the hazard zone. You can still watch them and interact with them and help them. But keep them out of the kitchen!
Dinner prep time was always when I would whip out the super fun sticker books or stencils or playdoh for my toddler. My baby would usually get buckled into her baby swing or play in her exersaucer.
Just in case, we set up an extra long baby gate so that our toddler could play in the living room (not in the kitchen) and it was honestly one of our best purchases.
If you have a moment to think ahead, prep work, such as chopping, can be done earlier in the day too. This way you don’t have so much to do right before mealtime when the hungry babies want all of mom’s attention.
Better yet, if you have support or a spouse who’s off on certain days of the week, try to pre-make and freeze meals. That way there’s even less for you to do during the hectic days with two and just you!
How to Keep a Toddler Busy at Home
There are going to be certain times when you need to have your hands busy with something else, whether it’s dealing with the baby or a task at home or an errand out and about. Toddlers are renowned for getting into mischief at very inopportune moments.
I’ve discovered some really useful techniques for keeping them focused and calm, rather than jumping off of furniture when your hands are tied up.
Toddlers often thrive on being big helpers, so give them doable tasks.
Ask them to bring you something, open a container, press a button, hold the baby’s hand, toss something in the bin… the list could go on. They don’t need to be tasks that actually need doing, it’s just to keep them preoccupied.
Make sure you praise them for being mommy’s big helper!
When you don’t have tasks to give, keep your toddler’s mind busy by telling them stories, asking questions, or even singing a few songs! You don’t need a book, a plan, or even real songs for that matter… make it up on the spot and I’m sure your toddler will love to hear it all!
Struggling with a Toddler and Baby?
Ask for help!
Guess what, momma? You don’t have to do it all!
Whether it’s from family, friends, or even a stranger in the street, you can ask for help when you need it!
You can get help to your car or opening a door. Ask someone to hold your bag or clip a buckle shut. Get a couple of hours of housework done when someone else can watch the kids.
Us moms often try to carry as much weight on our shoulders as possible but you don’t need to. Use your kids’ safety as the perfect excuse (and the most significant reason) to get help.
When you need it, reach out for support. You are not alone.