Inside: Gentle ways to make your older kid stay quiet when you attend to your younger baby without triggering meltdowns.
Having two or more kids and handling their needs without any dispute can be more overwhelming for the parents than it may seem for an outsider.
No matter how organized we have been and planned things before the second baby, there may be times that may test our limits and tire us more easily than we have expected.
That too, having a second baby with a toddler can be even more difficult because older one will not yet be in the stage of understanding our reasonable explanations about why their infant sibling needs more attention.
Imagine a situation where your infant cries out of hunger when you are in the middle of an interesting activity with your older kid!
Won’t it be quite unrealistic to expect your toddler to understand that the little one needs to be attended to immediately interrupting all her excitement and the fun mood?
And this is where it all begins where you might be pushed to choose between attending to the highly demanding tantrums from your older one or the little one who is crying its lungs out for you to appear.
In most cases, you are likely to choose the little one over the toddler triggering them to act worse and worse, thus escalating to a point where you lose temper and BLAST…
This is something that should be and can be avoided at any cost.
On the other hand, leaving the baby cry is also an impossible choice. That tiny human really needs some attention at these early stages of life.
You don’t have to feel void of options though.
There are still ways to help ease this situation where you desperately want your older child to stay quiet when you attend to your younger baby.
Here is a compilation of a few such alternative ideas.
As a matter of fact, it is not impossible to handle a toddler and a baby. After all, haven’t the generations before have done it like a pro?
From explaining the older sibling about the situation to resorting to screen time, there are lots of ways to deal with it.
But, with parents of this millennial era becoming more mindful and informed, here are few gentle strategies for handling an older sibling when attending to the new baby.
One thing that can be realistic to do with an older kid, who is over-enthusiastic to be engaged some way or the other while you attend to your new baby, is letting them in a YES room.
A YES space is an area which is baby-proofed enabling you to leave your child there to play, read or explore as per their wish without any supervision.
Just like a YES space, you can even make a particular room suitable for your kid to stay engaged without being supervised. This way, you could have your older child engaged while you attend to your younger one.
Also, you need not worry about whether the older one may get hurt while playing as a YES room should be practically safe for independent playtime for kids.
Try to make a routine of having a quiet time for your older child, probably, during the time you heed to the needs of your younger one.
Quiet time is a duration of the day when your kid is left alone to do some independent quiet activities without being interfered.
Some common quiet activities include:
More than a peaceful time for you to spend with your infant, short periods of quiet time really is beneficial for the mental development of your other child, as long as your child is not feeling lonely and gets extreme separation anxiety.
Doesn’t that mean its a WIN – WIN!
However, in early stages of implementing the quiet time, it can be advocated in the same room where you are soothing your younger child.
In this case, you would be urged to frequently remind your older one about being quiet.
But remember not to do that, because reminding them of the broken promise of being quiet may make them feel guilty. Obviously, the guilt will result in a huge meltdown.
Thus, try not to be too sensitive and conscious about the toddler waking up the baby. Because your baby easily senses your tension and do exactly what you are scared of.
It may seem so difficult at the start but once it becomes a routine, your toddler gets accustomed to it and may become more cooperative during such quiet times.
In fact, you would be amazed to see how creative your kid has become with the newfound refreshing and uninterrupted quiet time.
Related Read: Time Out as an Opportunity for Your Child to Think
Make it a practice that the toddler is asked to be in another room with someone else or by themselves when mom is nursing the baby.
You can even define an unwavering expectation that mom will not talk while soothing the baby.
Note that if you give in to the toddler’s demands after defining a firm expectation, the toddler senses the loophole and does things to gain your attention.
So, if you decide to make a routine that you would not talk while feeding, be really firm in it – unless the situation demands.
White noise when feeding helps a ton, to create a barrier for the baby and the toddler’s sound.
White noise is just some random sound generated of a constant intensity with varied frequency. These sounds can be easily found on all music apps.
When there is something that can shield your baby from relatively mild sounds of your toddler, then why not go for it rather than making your toddler stay out?
This also encourages your baby to form a sound and focused sleep routine regardless of the environmental sounds in a long run.
One of our personal favorites is humming or singing some nursery rhymes to the kids while nursing the younger one.
Both the toddler and the baby feels attended to while strengthening the bond between us as a family.
As a twist, you can even involve your toddler in singing to the younger one. Engaging you older one by letting them attend to the younger baby, actually, gives them the sense of responsibility.
Eventually they tend to understand the infant’s need for attention much better.
If possible, try snuggling with baby and toddler on the rocking chair making them both feel loved. If on bed, you can rock your baby on your lap with the toddler on your back.
Reading books can be a best form of the previously addressed quiet time. You can ask you older kid to read a book in their reading corner.
Alternatively, you can nurse you baby while reading a soft story to your older toddler.
Make sure to choose an appropriate book for such quiet times, because books that needs loud actions may not fulfil your needs of being quiet around the infant.
Choosing books related to sibling relationships can also be the best choice for reading during these times.
In the end, putting a small screen time for the toddler could also be a solution when you have nothing else to resort to.
But the problem that I faced with this was, my toddler could not stop the TV even after watching for a long time. That always led to a worse meltdown for the toddler, so I never used this option.
The reason is that our mind – yes, even for adults – takes longer to shift from the fast paced screen effect to the relatively slow real environment.
For kids, its even more difficult because they are not mature enough to understand why screen time is limited.
Hence, try avoiding this option as far as possible. But, at the end of the day, if you feel frustrated without any choice, you can let your kids watch some gentle stories or kids show without feeling guilty.
Related Read: Your Struggle with Screen Time is Real
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