Coping with Newborn and Four Year Old, Need Tips

Updated on September 26, 2012
A.K. asks from Simi Valley, CA
15 answers

I am stressed, I have a two week old who is spitting up and fussy, I have a four year old who needs my attention, I had a c section and have a bladder infection, and no sleep, and my husband went back to work today! I am so grateful for my kids but no sleep is making me doubt my ability to handle all this. I am thinking of hiring help, but what type of help? Night nanny? Babysitter? What tips out there to help me transition from one to two kids? I find myself angry at family members who want to help but don't know how, I feel sometimes I am the only one who can do things right?...

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the caring responses. I think the main thing I have learned is to focus on the basics getting done, and tell helpers exactly what to do. And of course, the sympathy and understanding in the responses really made me feel better. Am looking into hiring some help during the day a few hours as well

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answers from Jacksonville on

Have family members take the 4 year old on walks or to the park or zoo. Then you can focus on the baby and try to sleep when the baby sleeps and the 4 yr old is gone.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Charlotte on

You have to let go of this idea that only YOU can do things right. That's not fair. And you'll end up in the hospital over it, and alienate everyone around you while you're at it.

Ask for 2 family members to come over at the same time. Ask them if they will split up the following things:

Washing dishes, tidying kitchen (not scrubbing floors, mom), fixing food for the day, including feeding YOU.

Watching the 4 year old, washing, drying and folding clothes

You take care of yourself and the baby and with the exception of being "available" to the 4 year old when she wants a mommy fix, ignore everything else.

Be nice to everybody.

Sleep when your baby sleeps.

If your family members are sitting around expecting you to treat them as guests, they aren't helping and you have to tell them what you need. If they don't want to do it, tell them okay and then go call somebody else.

What would be REALLY helpful is a once a week cleaning service to scrub the bathrooms clean, vacuum and dust, clean the kitchen spotless, and scrub the floors.

It sounds like you aren't nursing (since you mention night nanny.) Mix bottles for the baby in the morning and warm up each time you need to. Spend a few minutes each day arranging all you need - diapers, wipies, clean baby washcloths, everything. Ask someone to watch the baby while you get a shower - that makes everything better. Ask for someone to change the sheets on your bed twice a week (more if you are sweating yet) so that the bed is nice and clean when you nap. Ask the family member who is the most "calm" to help you while you bathe baby. An extra set of hands with a little newborn will make you feel a ton better about this. Just because you took care of a newborn 4 years ago doesn't mean that it's easy to "get it right" all by yourself. Just don't get frustrated and fuss at your helper. Calmly tell them what to do next.

Does your 4 year old go to preschool? Having someone drive her to and from will help and give her the best chance of a normal schedule. She needs it - her home life is very different right now.

Once your baby weighs 12 pounds, you can start instituting dropping a feeding so that you get more sleep. Unless your baby develops reflux, there's nothing wrong with one bottle in the middle of the night, and eventually no night feedings. By then, you will have figured out how to manage, and you will be feeling better after the c-section.

More than anything, right now you have to stop trying to juggle all the balls. Your house doesn't have to be perfect. You just need to be clear about what you need. "Sis, could you please wash, dry and fold the clothes? I'll be happy to tell you where they go after my nap. I'm about to drop." "Mom, could you please cook enough food for the day? Write a grocery list while you're at it and give it to John and he'll go by the grocery store tomorrow." Give your husband a list every other day of products for the baby to buy on the way home from work in addition.

Once you've done this, put it aside and concentrate on baby.

You'll get through it, promise!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from New London on

C-sections are painful to heal from. I will never forget that pain. It took me a long time to heal! I had to ask for help so I wouldn't keep getting up and walking, lifting, etc... Healing will take a bit of time. Let others help !!!

Have a relative take the 4 yr old to his/her house or to preschool.

Sleep when the baby sleeps.

One of my kids was very, very fussy. I would give her (even as a newborn) to my Mom overnight one night a week.

I would read to the 4 yr old. This way you are sitting and can hold the baby, if needed. I had a basket of bks near my rocking chair. I was very clear w/ my preschooler that I could not get up and walk unless...

Order a few trays of food -- from a place you love, so you don't have to cook for several days.

We have a retired lady in our neighborhood who advertises to help in these situations. She has raised her kids. See if you can get some help !!!

If you need sleep, see if somebody can help overnight--even if it's every other night for a couple of weeks ! The first month or two is not easy when you have a second child.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

People tend to forget that when you have your second you need more help than with the first, and you need it with the 4 yo, not so much the baby. I sent the 4 yo to preschool and that helped a lot. I would also put the baby down to nap in his swing and my daughter and I would have "snuggle" time in front of the tv. She would watch her shows and I would sleep, but she loved the time she had close to me and didn't mind. I also think you need to tell your family how they can help you. If you want them to watch the kiddos while you catch some sleep then tell them that. If you need them to do laundry, dinners, etc., let them know that too. Everyone is different and needs help in different ways. I think the biggest thing I can say is, it won't be this way for long. It is a country song, and it really is true. It seems like that first month lasts an eternity, but it will pass by sooo fast and you will make it. Just try not to be too hard on yourself and try to enjoy it. My youngest is turning 1 next week and I can't believe that a year has flown by already. I even miss those early sleep deprived days.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

A.K., your baby is only two weeks old. It is completely normal for things to feel out of control right now. They will level off in due time. Be grateful for your family members who are willing to help, and take them up on it. Tell them exactly what you need from them. Don't be shy. If you want to lay down for a couple of hours, just tell them. If the laundry needs to be done, let them do it. Things don't have to be done perfectly at this time. Eventually the baby will sleep longer, and you will start to be more rested and feel like you're back in control. Hang in there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

My son was 2 when my daughter was born. Somethings that helped me was to nurse/feed her while sitting on the couch instead of in my rocker recliner, that way my son could sit next to me too and cuddle. I kept a large basket full of books right next to the couch and we would use feeding time as reading time with him, this way he didn't feel left out.
If I would've hired help, it probably would have been cleaning help!!!!!



answers from New York on

You want to hire a baby nurse to handle the baby, while you recover. They can be hired at 2 week intervals, or as long as you need her. They can work 24 hours or at night. Have the family members who want to help, take the 4 year old out to the park to tire him out. Or have 2 family members come at the same time, 1 for the 4 year old and 1 for the baby, while you sleep and rest during the day. Have the night nurse handle the nights. This should last for at least a month, so that you can get acclimated and heal. I wish I was in CA, so I could help you : ). Good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

I didn't read all the answers yet, but I remember having a really really hard time when my 2nd came. It helped to let Dad spend LOTS of time with my older child, to make her feel special. Definitely prioritize the relationships and not the housework. =) Also, if you are nursing, you can spend that time cuddling and reading to the older child so she feels included, like nursing is a special time for her. I also made a baby carrier for my older daughter so she could wear and care for her baby dolls like me. Your sleep is crucial; maybe you could nap instead of make dinner- dream dinners or things like that can offer meal services, or you could do that "cook for a month in a weekend" or ask friends to bring meals. Meals can save a lot of time and emotional stress. And don't even a short date night is a good idea, grab an hour for coffee or dessert or breakfast with your husband so you can both stay sane. is the 4 year old in preschool? that can give you a couple of hours of quiet time with baby. i really liked taking my newborn to mommy and me classes to meet other moms with kids that age; otherwise he ended up just tagging along to all of his older sister's activities. it helped to have friends in the newborn stage again; i had forgotten so much!

congratulations and enjoy! siblings are awesome- it brings out a beautiful side of each child. =)



answers from Chicago on

You can hire a nanny for the night. She will help with taking care of your baby, diaper changing etc while you can get some sleep. But then if you are breastfeeding you still would have to wake up every time to feed the baby. And your older would be sleeping anyways, so it's just the baby and you during the night.
Or you can hire a nanny during the day. She can take care of your toddler all day and also your little one when she naps. And you can catch up on your sleep whenever the little one naps.
yes get help from family. Maybe ask them to take your older out for activities during the day or ask them to bring food for you everyday, help with laundry. You would need all the help you can get!


answers from Los Angeles on

If nothing else, have the family that is offering to help come play with your older child so you don't feel guilty doing all baby and so you can nap when baby naps. Have them burp and hold baby while you go down earlier for a day time nap. Have them do dishes and fold laundry. Don't refuse family help if they are offering. At least not for these first 6 weeks. Don't worry about what you will have them do, you don't need a list, just someone who is there moment by moment to deal with what comes up. Just let them help. Its hard when people come into your home and don't do it just right, but take a step back and realize this is survival time- your kids need supervision, stimulation, food and water, basic sanitation. Even if it does not get done just so, its okay.



answers from Honolulu on

I had a c-section and a 3 almost 4 year old when I had my 2nd child.
BEFORE I even had my 2nd child, I spent my pregnancy on prepping my elder child, and talked with her about how she is special and will always be, and how there is no comparison and no reason that she is any less important.
ALSO we BOTH napped, when baby napped. We ALL napped, at the same time. I always explained to my daughter, about the routines etc. in ways she could understand, but without making her feel pressured or stressed. Because after all, she was still young herself and needed me too.

Hire a night nanny if you need it.

I always listened to myself and talked with my elder child, per whatever I had to do, but let my elder child be, her age.
My 2nd child, as a baby, had his own needs too. He had bad jaundice and had to be treated at home under the blue-lights, 24/7 day and night for several days and I could only remove him from it when I nursed. And he had to be taken to the hospital for blood draws every couple of days and trips to the Doctor too.
I survived.
But I always, made sure to bond with my elder child, always as much as I could... but i had already prepped her emotionally for having a sibling, before I even gave birth to my 2nd child. So that helped a lot.
I also was not one, who wanted relatives in my home to "help.
That was too irritating to me. I liked my privacy and to find my own groove as a Mom.


answers from Kansas City on

Have family bring a meal over for each evening for a week or so. That takes care of dinner and then nap when the baby naps, if you can't sleep have your 4 year old play by you while you lay down and rest. When you need something send your 4 year old to get it for you, like diapers or other small things, and tell the 4 year old what a help they are to you and they will love helping. Don't worry about things are not done 'right' and just accept the help you get for now. I laugh as I think of the times I had a baby and my mother and mother in law came to help and it bothered me so much that they folded the towels the 'wrong' way. How silly and yet I later talked to a friend who felt the same way but we took that help. Let your husband read to the older child in the evening and help get them in bed while you deal with the baby and then just remember that this is going to end soon and everyone will be adjusted and on a schedule and life will be better. With hormones, infection, no sleep it is pretty overwhelming. Hang in there and take time to kiss both of those little ones.



answers from Los Angeles on

Congrats on the new baby! Sounds like a rough time for you all. I'd suggest you look into hiring a postpartum doula. She will focus not only on the baby but also on your healing and help with your 4 year old. The most important thing is to realize that you need help and get it!


answers from Albany on

Hi AK, have you and your husband tried doing 'shifts'? Like say two 6 hour shifts per night. He takes 7am-1 and you take 1-7AM. That way you BOTH get 6 hours. If the baby is nursing maybe you could pump and Dad can give bottles.

AND, you will have to compromise your standards and allow family member to help you. If only for a couple hours every few days so you can nap. Really.



answers from Grand Forks on

My son had just turned three when his brother was born. He started nursery school three afternoons a week. That gave him time away from the baby, and I had time alone with the baby. I also hired my nieces who were tweens and young teens to be mothers helpers. They could play with the three year old or keep an eye on the baby while I got stuff done around the house.

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