Advice About Balancing a 17 Month Old and a New Born

Updated on February 09, 2008
E.G. asks from Saint Marys, KS
28 answers

Ok so when my first little one came I was able to do the sleep every 3 hours/nurse and go. I remember that time being hard because I didn't get a lot of continuous sleep but was able to fit it in when my little man slept. Now I have #2 on the way due in April and I have been getting increasingly worried as to what I will do with my active toddler. As of now our days are packed with a lot of adventure and excitement since his batteries never run out. Do any of you mom's have any advice on balancing a newborn and toddler. I use to hear a lot "sleep when the baby does" but obviously that won't be the case since I have the toddler. We are alone out here so we don't have family support to come help us either. Thanks for any and all advice!

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K.O.

answers from Kansas City on

When I read this I had to respond because this was me 3 years ago! My first 2 children are 17 mo apart and we don't have family in the area either. The first couple of weeks are just hard as the sibling and you are adjusting. If your oldest still takes naps then use that time for one of your own. The best thing I ever did was get my children on a schedule and then they nap at the same time. Just remember that this is all new for your son too and he will need alot of reassurance. I used the time when the newborn slept as time with my oldest and even him helping you with throwing away diapers, getting burp rags, holding baby, will bring him into it more. Hope this helps.

I am a SAHM with a 4yr daughter, 3yr son, and 14 mo old daughter.

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C.N.

answers from Oklahoma City on

If you can, I would start your toddler on a routine where he plays by himself in his room for an hour or so. This will help him gain a little independence in his ability to play creatively alone, and give you a chance for a break. You will probably have to work up to the hour mark, but it will be well worth it. Then when the baby comes, you can adjust this, "room time" to be the same as when the baby sleeps, so you can at least catch a little rest. Start now so it is nothing new when the baby comes, there will be enough new stuff to keep him busy! My three kids are really close together (3 in under 3 years) so this room time really helped in my world. Hope this helps! Oh and I just read what others said. Lots of good advice in here, I am for sure in line with Katy S. T.V. won't damage them if you use it for a little while!

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G.W.

answers from Dallas on

Hi. I have 4 kids. The first 3 are 18 months apart, each. I moved far away from family when #2 was 2 months old. I think I know how you feel: far away from family to help, husband at work all day, 2 small kids to care for, no reliable babysitters available (if you can even afford them). So, if that's how you feel, then I can relate. Any advice I have is: Don't try to do it all. Pizza or mac-n-cheese or take-out for dinner is okay. It won't be that way forever. Also, don't be shy to ask your husband for help. Your mental health is MOST important (i.e. who will care for the baby if you go crazy?!?!?) Last bit of advice: get done one thing each day that makes you feel the best. If it's taking a shower, having a clean kitchen, reading a book, whatever. Take time for that but don't expect to have time for all of it. At the beginning, and for a while, there will have to be lots of things sacrificed, like a clean house and bills pain on time. But when the baby is about 6 months old it will get better, then even better when your toddler starts preschool. Best wishes. ONe last thing - if you are feeling nervous or really out of it, please please please ask for help and don't be shy. God will put people in your path.

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K.W.

answers from Wichita on

Hi E.
i'm not sure if my advice will be helpful but hopefully so. My son and daughter are 17 1/2 months apart (he's now 4 and she's 2 1/2) and my son is also very active. What I did was when she took her nap in the afternoon, I would take my son in and have him try to take a nap with me (that didn't last long as he stopped napping at 20 months) if he wasn't tired then I would put a movie on and have him sit on the couch with me and I could at least relax.

If you could start getting your son to help you this is great! Iwould have my son help me by getting diapers, wipes or burp cloths. And DEFINATELY get both babies on a schedule as it will be incredible helpful. (I never did and I'm still paying for it!!)

A friend had recommended to me to make some meals up ahead of time and freeze them that saves you time in the kitchen.

Or another option is to look into a babysitter/nanny maybe a couple hours a day so you can rest. Or enlist the help of your spouse when their home. Unfortunately that option for me didn't work--my husband always had excuses when it came to helping me.

And forget about cleaning the house or anything like that, it'll stress you out.

hope this helps and enjoy your babies.

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J.C.

answers from Tulsa on

Eila, good luck...my kids were 18 mos. apart...my son was always active and after having a little sister I convinced him mama needed a big boy help...didn't want him to get jealous of all the attention the baby got...when she slept we cuddled & I read a book or rocked him...worked! We had "chores" for him to do...empty his bedroom & bathroom trash & help w/picking up before his daddy got home from work...seemed to help him keep busy w/out my constant attention...he'd help w/bath time & daiper change..and also he got to watch tv when I nursed or if I bottle fed he'd help. It does take patience but sure was worth it later...! He also had "special" toys to get out when he had his "big boy" time in the afternoon...good luck....!

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J.S.

answers from St. Louis on

I have a 22 month old and I am a nanny for a 5 month old. My toddler only takes one nap a day, and the baby takes two. I was able to make it so they are both asleep from about 12:30-3:00 every day. It gives me a nice chunk of "me" time and allows me to relax. My toddler also goes to school two mornings a week. It is only 3 hours a day, but it is so nice to just have the newborn during those times. And then by the time my son gets home from school, we do lunch and then nap, so it makes those entire days very easy! Hope this helps.

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M.B.

answers from Kansas City on

I have a five week old and a 19 month old, so am going through what is worrying you!! It is moments with great joy coupled with moments of feeling a little overwhelmed, but it's better than I anticipated. I had so many people tell me it would be so awful, and sure, there are some rough spots, but I have loved it. There are some things about #2 that are wonderful - there is less stress about the newness, the feeding, are you doing things right, etc that come with a newborn, so in a sense, despite my toddler, I have enjoyed number 2 more because I am more relaxed. And, seeing my 19 month old "love" her - pat her, worry about her pacifier, bring her blankets, wear my sling with a stuffed animal - is so sweet and has made me so proud - so there's an upside to all of the stress, too. I agree with everyone - I also bring #2 to bed in the early mornings to catch an extra hour when I can and Dad gives my toddler breakfast. And the suggestion about a teenager or someone to give you just a few hours here and there is an excellent idea!! Also, I have left Dad alone with both during my toddler's nap time to read a magazine at Starbucks, meet a friend, get my hair done - that has helped so much in terms of sanity. I'm tired, but #2 is starting to go six hours at a time every so often!!! Good luck to you and I too have appreciated these responses!

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T.S.

answers from Kansas City on

i have to agree with rhonda b., having your oldest learn how to self entertain is key!
i gave birth to our second son last june... they are exactly 17 months apart. it is super hard... i wont lie... but at the same time... you are gonna do an amazing job.
before #2 came, i made sure our first was able to go down for naps without me rocking him to sleep... and i made sure to give him plenty of "alone" time... so that he wasnt feeling left out, or ignored when the baby came.
good luck... please bend my ear if you need anything!

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T.Z.

answers from Topeka on

I only have one child, but I wanted to mention the way that we started getting more sleep. My daughter slept in a bassinet next to the bed and then in bed with me from the day she was born. If you are planning to breastfeed, I recommend learning to nurse while lying in bed. Then you don't have to be completely awake. You can put baby back in bed or let baby sleep with you, depending on what you are comfortable with. When I finally figured out how to nurse lying down, I suddenly stopped being a zombie.

Good luck with your new addition. I'm sure that you will find a routine that works for your family.

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K.B.

answers from Kansas City on

Hi. My own two children are 2 1/2 years apart, but I tended my two nieces after their mom died. My daughter was 2 months old, my younger niece..14 months, and my older niece and son were 2 1/2; Hopefully what I have to say will help.
I required the 2 1/2 year olds to take "quiet time". Every day after lunch, they knew that it was quiet time. I did start this with my own son since he was born, but I did need to teach this schedule to my older niece.
So here was our schedule, and it never varied, even if we were late for lunch. We would have lunch, read books, and then they would each go to their own rooms for quiet time. My son still took naps and my niece did every once in a while. My daughter and other niece were still on two naps a day. So, I was able to nap when they were all four in quiet time...and boy did I need it! When my older niece would complain, I would explain that I needed the quiet time to be a nice aunt when she woke up. When they woke from naps we would have a special snack time.
I often worried about not giving the older ones enough time because the two younger needed to be held often and such; but since the younger two took naps in the morning, I made sure that I played with the older two during that time.
Please do try to take time to sleep or relax when the baby does; I don't know if baby blues runs in your family or worse, but it does in mine and for me it was the difference between being a good mother and aunt and being someone I didn't even know. It was very much a necessity for me to set down a schedule for the afternoons. Everything could go to pot in the morning, but the afternoons were always the same.
I'll stop harping on it, hopefully what I've said will help. Best of luck and congratulations!!
You will be able to figure out how to do it! If he doesn't nap, you might try to start the quiet time now, so he will be use to it in April.
I'll be quiet now.
Enjoy it, the two older of mine are in kindergarten now. ;-(
K. B.

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S.S.

answers from Springfield on

Try reading the books (you can usually get them at the Library, or get used ones off Amazon or eBay) Baby Wise & Toddler Wise by Gary Ezzo. I think you'll find them helpful. I had all three of my children 16 months apart. While it's an adjustement, you DO find that if you get them into a napping patern, you'll be able to take a good nap in the afternoon with your toddler and infant. PLUS on a bright note, your body DOES bounce back a lot quicker the second time around! :)
S.

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J.G.

answers from Tampa on

Hi E.,
I can completely relate to your concerns, when my second baby was born, last april, my son was 22 months old, and he is a crazy, active little boy. So the suggestions I am offering you come from first hand experience.
First off I believe a lot of what got me through those first couple months was thinking realisticly but also positively. Mentally prepare yourself now, for the challenges that are ahead. And prepare yourself practically now as well. Some suggestions to do that: 1) spend time with your son showing him pictures of babies and talking about the baby in your belly, maybe even buy a doll to talk to your son about a new baby coming. 2) discuss a routine with your husband around his work schedule so you can get some naps in. 3) the few days before your due date, prepare some meals that can go in the freezer, that way you'll have some easy dinners when the baby's here 4)there are professionals called Postpartum Doulas, whose job is to help you with the weeks after you come home from the hosp., they can answer questions, help around the house, run errands for you, etc... I am not sure how much their fee is, but i'm sure you could work something out with them if money is an obsactle right now. Do a google search for postpartum doulas in your area. 5)if you have a certain faith start getting involved now in a church, most churches love helping pregnant women.
Hope this helps. Also remember this stressful time won't last forever, within a few months, you'll have a routine down and be used to your hectic life!
If you have any questions feel free to send me a message, I'd be happy to help!
J. (26 y/o SAHM with a 2 1/2 son and 9 month daughter)

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K.M.

answers from Tulsa on

I never had help beyond the first two weeks and even though I was beyond exhausted, I found ways to cope. Namely, put the 2-year old down for a nap and lay down with the newborn yourself. I also look naps as soon as DH came home. Also once in a while I'd take him to the church nursery and sleep in the car.

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R.B.

answers from Kansas City on

I was in your same situation...but I do live closer to my family! However, my son was 17 1/2 months old when my newborn was born. It was definatley different this time however just remember that newborns sleep and eat for the first few months! I would make it a point to play with my oldest son throughout the day but also made sure while I was pregnant that he learned how to entertain himself as well. Finding certain toys that would keep his interest was the big thing! I bought a few new things right before the baby was born so when we came home from the hospital, I would introduce these things to him and it kept his attention much longer than his normal/older toys! If the baby was in his swing, bouncy seat or in bed, I made sure I would rest on the couch where my son would be playing. Resting works great as well although you are not 100% sleeping! Take the time to take a nap right when your oldest child goes to nap! Feed the baby, swaddle then put the baby in the swing and you should be fine to dose off for a good few minutes to re-energize yourself!

It will seem so tough at first, but once you have your baby and home, you will form your own schedule!

For more good help with that newborn to keep them content...sleep better, etc.... my biggest recommendation is the dvd or book Happiest Baby on the Block! We swear by it!

good luck!

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B.W.

answers from Kansas City on

OK, I don't know your situation..but my first 2 are 16 months apart..and then the 3rd was 26 months later.
I always worked though and this is what I did....I realize you might be a SAHM...but I didn't have that option so...getting the actually extra sleep when the kids where in the day was not an option..but here is what kept my sanity.
I would go into work early..(even thought that meant loss of sleep) I worked out a flex schedule...and then I would NOT pick up the kids on the way home but come home, get the house picked up, the laundry going and dinner started before getting the kids..that way the crazy what is refured to as th five o clock hour would not be as intense as the stuff that had to be done was.
Barb
Oh, but sleep...it gets better about the grade school years...but goes away again the teen years when you are waiting for them to get home from wherever......

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J.C.

answers from Kansas City on

I don't think anyone mentioned this, but you might consider hiring a trusted teenager to come to your house in the afternoon to play with your son. Have your hubby ask around at work, consider a neighbor teen, or even ask a local teacher for a responsible teen who might be interested (or check out sittercity). That way, you'll still be in the house in case you're needed, but if the baby takes a nap in the afternoon, you can get a little sleep too. And even if the baby doesn't sleep, your oldest will be occupied and you can focus on caring for the baby, catching up on dishes, or just putting your feet up! Good luck! You can do it!

PS-- as someone suggested, freeze as many meals as you can in advance. But DON'T wait until a few days before you are due! Start cooking double batches of dinner now & freeze the extra.

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I.E.

answers from St. Louis on

My first two and second and third were not too far apart from what yours will be. Don't get too stressed out. Your oldest will love helping out with diaper changing and things. As far as sleep, I won't lie, I'm sure there are times where you'll feel like you can't go on, but things will work out. Support systems will pop up when and where you didn't expect them too. Every situation is different so my only real advice is to just stay calm and take every moment as it comes. Moms can do things we never thought we could. I'm sure that's something all moms can agree on.

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M.G.

answers from St. Louis on

It is very challenging....best advice is to make sure to take care of yourself....eat and sleep when you can....also remember your toddler will remember more if you neglect him your infant won't remember crying...as long as he or she is safe...I have a 3 yr old boy and 8 month boy and my husband is deployed....I have lost weight and sleep but every day I am thankful that we are happy, healthy and we survived another day...Try to enjoy the moments and remember that it won't always be as chaotic (try to keep you toddler busy/distracted when nursing your infant)....If you don't have a reliable friend or sitter, look for one...you definitely need time away, even if you take one kid with you...juggling two grocery shopping is exhausting....Stay positive, laugh a lot....when times get tough....be comical...it helps with my toddler! Wait until you're potty training your toddler and nursing your infant and he decides to take off his pants to see his poop...big sense of humor for that one :)

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S.A.

answers from Tulsa on

I have kids 18 months apart. So I made the baby take a nap at the same time as my older child, then I could sleep also. Figure out what time of day is best for the baby being out & about and go to the zoo, library story time, aquarium or park at that time. At first it may seem a bit daunting to be leaving the house with 2 kids under 2 by yourself, but you can do it! Get yourself a double stroller and your good to go.

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D.H.

answers from Kansas City on

My girls are 14 months apart and I survived. They are tweens now. Don't stress to much, when your second one is born you'll automatically know what you need to do. Don't neglect your oldest though. The baby will take alot out of you, but do remember you have another one. And please don't be one of those moms that has a well behaved oldest child and a terribly behaved youngest child because by the time that one came along you were tired of being the disciplinarian. I see it everyday where I work. The second and third child (especially those close in age) are the ones who cause more trouble because mom and dad didn't discipline them like they did the first. Good luck and God Bless and don't worry you'll be fine.

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A.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

The sleeping thing is hard to sort out at first but it will get better! (My daughter was 21 months when my son was born 6 months ago.) The key at our house was establishing a routine for everyone. Also, we kept the baby in our room and the toddler in the nursery at night so that they were separate and no one's sleep foibles messed with anyone else. (They now share a room and are doing great.) Also, when the morning rolled around and the 2 year old was greeting the day with euphoric songs at the top of her lungs, my husband would get up and get her juice and cheerios. Little things like that helped me immensely. Also, I would feed the baby and put him down, then sit down on the couch with the toddler to watch Sesame Street. She would enjoy Elmo while I snoozed lightly. Then I would try to coordinate the baby's nursing schedule so that by the time the toddler was ready to nap in the afternoon, he would have a full tummy and be ready to sleep, too.

Those are the details that helped us most. I won't lie to you. It's going to be hard at first. But you can do it! Just be mentally prepared to let things slide for a few months as far as housework goes, and if your husband ever offers to bring carryout home for dinner, say YES! The rule is still sleep whenever you can... it's just that you're not going to be able to as much.

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K.S.

answers from St. Louis on

My boys are 19 months apart. My second was a premature and was eating every 2 or 2 1/2 hours. And to top it off, my husband travels durning the week for work. Basically I was REALLY tired for the first few months! But I have survived! I would also suggest encouraging your oldest to play by himself...start this now! I kept my oldest on his 2:00- 5:00 nap schdule and tried to work the baby's routine to match up nap times. That gave me a nice break in the afternoon. Don't feel guilty about a little extra TV/movie time. If it gives you a chance to rest and helps keep mama sane, its in everyone's best interest! I was worried I would create a little TV monster but, it was easy to cut back after I had more energy to deal, he was still so young habits are fairly easy to change. I also tried to make sure my oldest had physical activity each day, but I didn't always have the energy to hit the park (or even get dressed) so I brought our little plastic outdoor slide inside, and put couch cushions on the floor for bouncing and bascially just let him wear himself out! Good luck! In my experience, it was hard at first, but it got easier as they got older because they are so close in age :)

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T.V.

answers from St. Louis on

start involving him where the baby is concerned before it gets hers, if you shop for the baby involve him and let him pick out things, when the baby kicks let him feel it and explain to him that, thats his new baby brother or sister in mommy's belly.And buy him a surprise toy and give it to him after he meets his sibling to break the jealousy. Trust me I have 7 kids and I involved all my kids with each of their sibling before they were born and after baby was born I gave them all a surprise gift that I had bought before the baby got here. Try this and keep me posted at [email protected]____.com....Good Luck And Congrats. T.

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M.S.

answers from Kansas City on

I would just sleep when the 17 month old is napping and I would also let the 17 month get in bed with me in the morning and try to get an extra few winks of sleep. Then on the weekends I let my husband take the 17 month old and I would try to get as much sleep as possible to make up for what I didn't get during the week.

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T.H.

answers from St. Louis on

Hi, Having two that close together is a challenge. My girls are now 17 and 15 so the good news is you will survive it. When I had my 2nd my first was 23 months old. I wasn't working which helped but sleep was an issue. Lucky for me my baby was a good sleeper and by the time she was 2 months old slept all night. I also was able to get them both in a good routine of taking afternoon naps at the same time. I could have some down time that way & also catch a nap if I needed to. Another issue for me was finding one on one time w/ the toddler after having the baby. I bought a new doll for her & when I fed the baby my toddler would get her doll, sit by me & feed her baby. I also had reading & play time w/ her when the baby slept. Sometimes everything will not go smoothly, the baby & the toddler will cry, the washing machine will break down & dinner will burn. On those days you have to admit you're human & just do the best you can. You will have great memories & they will grow up w/ a constant companion. My daughters are really close & I'm so glad they are close in age.

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D.S.

answers from Kansas City on

I am in the same boat as you are! I am being induced tomorrow and my son will be two next week. I am not sure of what your financial situation is, but if you are able, see if you can send the older one somewhere part time during those first six weeks. Maybe you can set something up with an in home daycare provider where you take the 14 month old there M,W,F or T,TH. If you are unable to do that, when your husband gets home, retire to your room with the newborn so you can catch up on sleep between 6pm and 6am. I know it's going to be hard. I am just as worried as you are! :) But, hang in there, and smile knowing that they do eventually sleep through the night. That's what I am looking forward to. Good luck!

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R.B.

answers from St. Louis on

You are not alone. I also have a 14 month old and a baby due in April. Some days I want to pull my hair out with just having 1 child around, I can't imagine how it is going to be with 2. My plan is to hire someone part time to help me. I know everyone can't do that because it can be costly, but I can't imagine doing this on my own. Good luck to you and I will have to watch your feedback to see what advice you get because I need some as well.

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M.W.

answers from St. Louis on

I totally understand your anxiety. I had 20 month old twin girls when my son was born (I now have 4 kids). It will be hard and you will be tired. Have you thought about putting your 14 month old in a Parents Day Out even for just one day. You could go home and nap with your newborn. Sleep is precious and there is really no magical cure here. I wish you the best.

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