New Baby in the House: 5 Must-Haves for Your Older Child

I became a mom for the second time about a year ago. My take-two crack at motherhood was a lot different from the first one: I knew what to expect this time around. I also knew the baby products that I did and didn’t need (crucial: diapers, and lots of them; not so much: diaper wipes warmer).

I didn’t know, though, that I needed to invest in some products for another member of the family: my older child, who was 3 when her younger sister arrived on the scene. As it turns out, I spent more time and $$ buying items for my older child rather than my newborn baby, who made do with many of her big sister’s hand-me-downs.

These things helped Numero Uno adjust to life with a sibling. Here you go, second-time moms and dads: five must-haves for your older child once baby comes home.

1. Easy-to-open snacks. The first few weeks after giving birth, you’ll have about two minutes tops to feed your older child breakfast (Cheerios), lunch (more Cheerios), and dinner (hmm…Cheerios?). And she’ll need snacks throughout the day, too.

I found it helpful to keep a variety of easy-to-open snacks, in easy-to-reach shelves in the pantry and refrigerator, handy for my 3-year-old. Think a box of crackers, a bag of Craisins, cheese sticks, and prewashed containers of fruit. This way, you’ll be able to feed and rock the baby to sleep without being interrupted (“Mom!”) to help slice an apple.

2. Activities for home. It can be hard to take your older child to their once-beloved library story time, swim lesson and gymnastics class with a baby in tow, especially in the first month. So plan some home-based activities to keep your kiddo entertained, but more simply at home.

Some examples: My older daughter can play for a long time with figurines such as Calico Critters and the cast from “Doc McStuffins,” setting up scenes and making up stories for them.

She also loves getting dressed up and acting out stories herself. Stores from Barnes & Noble to Party City sell great dress-up gear, for boys and girls alike, that can double as Halloween costumes come fall.

One more idea: a parachute like this one. There are so many things kids can do with a parachute.

New Baby in the House

3. An activity for outside the home. All that being said, it’s nice to have one activity outside the home that’s just for your older child, so that he/she feels special. Since my baby was born, my older daughter has been taking a dance class, which she’s grown to love. She feels special getting outfitted in her tights, leotard and bun, knowing that Mommy and Baby are taking her to something that’s “just for her.” 

4. DVD’s. Because there will be times when you’ll need to know your kiddo won’t run to the nursery just when the baby’s about to fall asleep. You’ll need a tried-and-true “babysitter” that will keep your child’s attention for an extended period of time. Common Sense Media has this great online resource of age-appropriate movie lists. I especially love the section entitled “TV and Movies That Promote Empathy.”

5. Bubble bath. A lot of times, I needed to give my older daughter a bath while holding my baby. In the beginning, Daughter No. 1 pouted because I wasn’t giving her my undivided attention.

Bubble bath, such as this one, helps with this problem. I can quickly wash my older daughter, and then give her some time to play with the bubbles while chilling on the bathroom floor with my baby and counting down to the moment I can enjoy a glass of bubbly myself.

Good luck, moms and dads!

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Baking With Kids: 9 Tips

Baking is one of Little G and my favorite things to do together. Maybe you and your children enjoy it, too. Or maybe you’ve never tried it before. But if you have some extra flour and sugar left over from your holiday baking … and your kids have a few more days of winter break, too … then give it a try. Here are nine tips to help you along, especially if your kids measure in at three feet or shorter. 🙂

1.) Pick an easy recipe. Little G and I love this one for Orange Dark Chocolate Blossoms, which my Mom passed along to us. Nine ingredients—that’s what I’m talking about!

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2.) Know that things might get messy—and that’s OK. As Harriet van Horne said, “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

3.) Also know that everything will take longer: prep, cleanup, everything. That’s OK, too. P.S.: Don’t hurry to preheat the oven anytime soon.

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4.) Enjoy your time together, you and your child. No need to rush through mixing the butter, flour, and sugar. Chat; laugh; steal a dark chocolate kiss or two from the ingredients list.

5.) At the same time, make sure your child doesn’t eat too many of the ingredients. (Yes, I speak from experience, friends!)

6.) Give your kiddo a job, maybe even a few jobs. For our Orange Dark Chocolate Blossoms, Little G’s main job is to unwrap the 40 dark chocolate kisses. She also likes to stir the dough using a wooden spoon, and roll the dough into circle-shaped cookies-to-be.

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7.) Use this time together to teach—about kitchen safety, for example. “The oven is hot, Little G, so you need to stay right there while Mommy puts the cookies in.” Another worthy lesson: “Mommy’s mommy made these cookies every Christmas, and now we’re making them, too. We’re carrying on a family tradition. Those are important.”

8.) Baking with kids is a wonderful mommy-and-me activity, for any season. It encourages conversation. It teaches skills. And it makes your house smell homey.

9.) Most of all, baking with your kids creates memories. I’m no Cake Boss, but I love baking with Little G, and I’m excited for us to make cookies (and memories) with her little sister one day, too. Happy baking, friends.

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