When Baby Needs You: 6 Tips To Entertain Siblings While You're Taking Care of the Baby | Occasionally Crafty: When Baby Needs You: 6 Tips To Entertain Siblings While You're Taking Care of the Baby

February 18, 2015

When Baby Needs You: 6 Tips To Entertain Siblings While You're Taking Care of the Baby


This is my sweet "baby" Drew.


He's 5 years old.  He is adorably sweet, hilariously funny, a copycat to the extreme, and the biggest flirt I've ever met.  I love chasing him around the house as he laughs hysterically, holding him when he wants to snuggle, and sitting with him as he sounds out the new words he's learned.

See, he's my baby.  There's not going to be another one.  I have some fairly serious health issues that make having children difficult.  I have RA, which you can read about here.  Basically, all my joints swell and stiffen, making movement painful and difficult.  Luckily, I have found a combination of treatments that keep my disease controlled.  Most days I can handle life just fine.  But to have a baby, I have to stop some of these treatments, and that means the RA Monster that lurks below the surface rears its ugly head.  I hobble around like an old lady, and even uncrossing my legs or unfolding my arms can bring excruciating pain.  The pain was especially bad when I was pregnant with Drew.   Every day was a struggle, and I spent a lot of time in tears, in bed, or both.  With three children to take care of, I just don't think we can go through that experience again.

So, with sadness, but with excitement for the next phase of life, I treasure every moment I have with my "baby".

This post isn't really about me and my troubles, though.  See, when Drew was a baby, he was a certified GRUMP.  From the moment he was born, screaming his head off, to the time some magic switch went off in his 2nd year, he was quick to scream (and I mean SCREAM) and very slow to sleep.  

Look at that grumpy face!

For quite a stretch of time he only slept in 20-minute chunks.    He also had digestion problems that caused him a lot of pain, which of course, made him cry even more!  Now, he wasn't colicky.  I've never had to deal with round-the-clock crying and pacing, or some of the more serious issues many mommies deal with.  But that doesn't mean my frustration and sleep-deprivation were any less real or valid.  One thing I've learned after three kids is that we all have our struggles and challenges, and comparing them to others is a waste of time and energy.  If it's hard for you, it's okay to feel like it's hard, no matter how hard someone else has had it!

Anyway, I feel uniquely qualified to offer some tips for those of you with young children who need to be entertained when baby needs you.  My baby needed constant attention, either by being held or trying to get him to nap.  At the time, I had a 2 1/2 year old, and a 4 1/2 year old.  All three of them were home with me all day.  This could've been a recipe for disaster.  Here are some things I've found to help when you don't want to use the electronic babysitter (aka TV):

1.  Have a basket of toys/books that ONLY comes out during nursing/feeding time.  My 2 1/2 year old wanted to be near me all the time, so when I was feeding Drew, I pulled out the toys and he sat next to me and played.  Some kids might like a baby doll of their own to "feed".

2.  Help them be part of the process.  If baby needs a change, let them observe and help at their age-appropriate level (bring you a diaper or wipes, give baby a toy to hold).  If baby needs feeding, let them help you prepare the bottle, or bring you burpcloths.  When baby is older, they can help you prepare the food, bring utensils, or even help feed!  It keeps them involved, and provides some much-needed help to you!

3.  If baby is fussing or crying, don't always shoo the older ones away. This crying is a major reason older siblings say they don't like their baby brother/sister.  My oldest was worried about the baby.  She didn't understand why he cried so much.  Help them understand.  Explain to them why baby is crying and ask them what they think would help baby.  Ask them to sing a song to baby or bring him a blanket or lovey.  Of course, there are times you do need to be alone with baby, such as for naps.  This leads us to....

4.  When you need the older ones to be quiet, tell them clearly and firmly that it's time to be quiet.  I set my older kids up in a room as far away from the baby's room as possible.  I had specific toys and games for quiet times- coloring books, soft toys, puzzles, etc.  Once they were busy, then I took baby in, locked the door so no one would barge in, and put baby to sleep.  If you're worried, keep a monitor on (very low) so you can hear them if there's trouble.  But....

5.  Don't try to make your house silent.  Babies will get used to the noise of their siblings.  It's okay to let them be kids.  Just teach them limits and boundaries instead of trying to enforce silence.  You'll be a lot less stressed, and everyone will be happier.

6.  When baby is awake and happy, make sure you spend time with your other kids.  Snuggle with them, play with them, tell them how much you love them and what a good big brother/sister they are!  Let them play with baby (supervised, of course, or your baby will end up like this!).



These things will go a long way towards overcoming "baby envy" and letting them know they're still your "baby" too!


And yeah, you're still going to have times where your toddler throws open baby's door just after you've FINALLY gotten him to sleep.  You'll probably yell once or twice (or more!)  And it will be a lot easier to just do it all yourself without a really S-L-O-W preschooler bringing you those wipes you need NOW!  But I hope some of my ideas will work for you, and help you take care of that precious baby!


Tell us, how do you entertain your young children when baby needs you?  Share in the comments below!
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14 comments:

  1. This is such great advice! I am due with #2 in August and my son will only be 17 months old. I'm more than a little bit terrified of what I've gotten myself into and think all the time about how the hell I'm going to manage with two kids under 2 at home. The idea about having a basket of toys specifically for nursing time is pure genius. I already have a hard time keeping my son in one place, but I'm sure that would really help. Thank you for the great ideas...you've eased my worry a teeny bit (for today anyway!) ;)

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    1. Good luck with #2! It's a big transition but you'll get into the new routine quickly. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. These are some great ideas to have if we have a second baby! I was adamant about not quieting the house for my son when he was born and definitely will keep that same logic with any others! :)

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    1. So glad you already knew about that! I was so quiet with my first and it was a hard transition to #2 (noise-wise!)

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  3. This is always a challenge! I can totally relate...my youngest (last) was also a GRUMP! She just turned 2 and can still be pretty grumpy! I agree that it is very important to not have a quiet house!!

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    1. Oh, those Grumps! Good thing they are cute, right? Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. These are great tips for growing families! I think making siblings a apart of the process is such a big deal!

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    1. Thanks Shannon! It really helped my kids (and my sanity!)

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  5. Great tips, mine are 18 & 16 now but when #2 came along the eldest helped whenever he could, we also read during nursing times or watched a favourite film together

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    1. Glad you put #2 to work! Do you miss those baby days? (I'm not sure I do! :)

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  6. Great advice! My 4 year old loves to be part of the action, wherever that is - including nursing. Having toys or crafts ready for him or making clear boundaries that he can understand helps him process the fact that mommy needs to be with baby right now.

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    1. Thanks Emily! It helps if they are occupied like yours has been. It gives them control over something and helps keep resentment away. Good luck!

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  7. Great tips! I've definitely seen "baby envy" in my nieces and nephews. I'm going to tuck this info away for later when I might need it!

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