Any mother expecting a second wonders how she will entertain and manage a busy toddler while she meets the expansive demands of the new baby. Expert mummy contributor (and she’s got triplets so she really does know!) Michelle Duncan shares her passion for busy bags and other easy tricks to tame that toddler!
Having a baby is a massive, life-changing event. Adjusting to their demands, coupled with a lack of sleep, can be overwhelming at the best of times. When you have a second child, you may feel more confident in that you’ve been there, done that. But there’s one new challenge you’ll be facing – how to look after a newborn when you already have an older child. You’ll likely feel torn between the two, and full of guilt at the massive change you’ve just thrust upon your firstborn. There are ways to help your child adjust to their new sibling, as well as to keep them entertained while you’re tied up with newborn feeds.
One popular idea is to have the baby bring a present for their older sibling. Have it ready for when they meet for the first time. Depending on the age of the older child, a new doll is a great idea. They’ll have their very own ‘baby’ to look after. They can change nappies, ‘feed’ their babies, and burp them. Having them do that while you feed your baby is a nice way of keeping them simultaneously involved and entertained. Boys love dolls too, and there are plenty of male and female dolls available to choose from.
Busy bags are another nice idea – fill a bag or box with special toys and snacks that only come out when you need a bit of time, like during a feed. When deciding what to put in a busy bag for your child, you are only limited by your imagination. You don’t need to spend money on fun activities. My favourite suggestions for busy bags include:
- Colouring books
- Kinetic sand and/or Playdoh
- New DVD
- Threading – using sheets of foam (which you can purchase from $2 shops, art shops, or at the larger sewing/fabric shops), cut out some fun shapes and punch holes around the sides. Using wool, shoelaces or pipe cleaners, your child can thread them through the holes. If you can’t get a hold of sheets of foam, you could poke holes through an egg carton, or even use a colander/strainer.
- Gluing and collages – all you need is some scraps of paper (I use a small guillotine to cut multiple sheets of coloured paper in to smaller shapes), a glue stick, and something to stick those shapes too. Once they’re a bit better at gluing, you can further guide them by drawing a shape on their paper and having them fill that shape in with their scaps of paper. My oldest daughter loves it when I write her name in large bubble letters, so that she can do her collage within those letters.
- Tracing – older children who are starting to learn their letters, numbers and how to write will love tracing games. All they need is a sheet of paper with simple words printed on them, or even their name or the alphabet, and a brightly coloured pencil to trace over the printed words.
- Stickers – a sheet of stickers and a piece of paper upon which to stick them will amuse any child. Older children can be guided to match their stickers to shapes and/or colours on the page. You can even have them stick things on to boxes and toilet paper rolls to make it a bit more exciting for them.
As well as keeping your child happy and your time free to feed or settle your newborn, these activities will help your child practice their independent play skills, as well as help them develop fine motor skills. Setting up these activities doesn’t take too long, but will save you a lot of time and stress in the long run.
Pinterest is an endless source of inspiration. By simply typing in ‘busy bags’, you’ll find pages upon pages of suggestions for children of all ages. A word of warning – once your mind starts whirling with fun activities to set up, it may be hard to stop! Here’s a fab visual example I love from Small Potatoes Blog, click through for more great Busy Bag Ideas.
From me to you – relax – you can do it! But a little bit of pre-baby organising will make the transition from one to two (or if you were me one to four!) all the easier! Good luck!
Image Credit 2: Busy Bag Image at Top from Ally Robinson at Not On the High Street. We love this clever busy bag storage idea, however if budget doesn’t permit zip locks bags are a great option too…
About the author: Michelle Duncan is mother to a 3 year old girl and 2 year old girl-boy-boy triplets. Currently living just outside of Brisbane, she is a RAAF wife who has lived in many different towns and states over the last seven years. She studies, works part time and in her free time (what’s free time?) loves cooking up a storm and singing loudly (badly) to 90’s pop music.