When your new baby arrives, sometimes your older child will feel left out. You can reassure your older child they are still loved, with plenty of hugs and kisses. Remind them that they were tiny once, and needed to be held and nursed a lot. Show them photos and videos of when they were small(er) and tell them stories about what they were like.
Arrange a place on the sofa where you can comfortably feed your baby, and your toddler can snuggle close too. Or put a small chair and table near a comfortable chair, where the toddler can play, while you are breastfeeding. Reading to your older child, watching TV with them and talking about the game they’re playing can all be done while you sit and feed your baby.
If you use a baby carrier or sling you may be able to nurse and move around. If you time walks, or outings to the park or shops, to coincide with a nap for your baby you can give your older child(ren) attention they need. If your children get enough fresh air and exercise they may be more settled with you spending a lot of time sitting down with your baby.
When your baby is asleep, give your undivided attention to your other child(ren). Fill up their ‘love wells’ when you have time, and they’re less likely to have an urgent need or to get into squabbles together, right when it’s time to meet the new baby’s needs. Of course, some children do not respond in such a compliant way, and indeed may explore your tolerance by disrupting the baby’s nap, interrupting nursing sessions and so on. If you can see this is a chance to show your older children that you still love them just as dearly even with these disruptions, it can sometimes turn an irritation into a positive experience. Having a new baby can be a very challenging time for everyone and you may really benefit from LLL support. LLL meetings are a great place to get support, to explore your feelings and to get ideas on toys and games to keep your older child occupied, while you are feeding your baby.
Housework when you have a new baby
Keeping your house clean isn’t easy with a young baby to care for. You might find these tips help:
- Set priorities and lower your expectations: decide which things are most important to you and your family. You don’t need a spotless house but keeping on top of the washing up can make your lives much easier. A phrase you could keep in mind is “people before things.” Your baby is tiny for such a short time, your little ones will remember the hugs, outings, and fun family projects not whether you have a gleaming kitchen floor!
Make a list of “to do” projects and prioritize them. Just getting one job crossed off your list each day will give you a feeling of accomplishment. Don’t tackle the really big projects now. Find ways to accomplish parts of jobs in short ten-minute bursts.
- Simplify: Use a box to go from room to room, picking up assorted clutter, toys, clothes. The rooms will look more organized and the stuff can be sorted out later.
- Remember, if you’re living with another adult, that housework is not your responsibility alone. It’s very reasonable to share out tasks, and if one person is spending most of their time caring for their children, the other might quite reasonably expect to prepare meals and wipe floors.
- Families come in all different sorts of shapes and sizes, if you are not living with another adult you may still be able to delegate and accept offers of help from family members and support people.
- If your baby doesn’t want to be put down, wear them in a sling, and learn to get some things done together.
Keep meals simple: you might try batch cooking at the weekends, or using a slow cooker so you can start your evening meal in the morning when your baby is more likely to be content, than in the evening when everyone is likely to be tired and hungry.
Published January 2018, minor edits September 2023