Life with 2 under 3 – Ways to entertain toddlers when you’ve got a newborn
So I’m embracing life with 2 under 3. It’s chaotic, blissful and hard work. So if you’ve got 2 under 3 to entertain, or are expecting a new baby and have a toddler, I wanted to share some advice on ways to entertain toddlers. I’ve previously shared the second baby products I swear by (which you can see here), so in this post I’m revealing some top product recommendations for a 2-year-old.
Ways to entertain toddlers– an expert’s view
Dr Lin Day, Child Development Expert and Founder of Baby Sensory, says:
Bringing a new baby into the home can be very disorientating for a young toddler. For the older sibling, gaining a new younger brother or sister can be the most impactful thing that has ever happened to them. The child’s life is about to turn upside down.
Adjustment to a new baby will depend on pre-planning and preparation, the child’s personality, age and stage of development, and relationship with their parents. Ultimately, your toddler needs to know that he/she is still loved and wanted. Cuddles are important during any major life-changing event, and also throughout life. They can make a real difference to how the child feels and behaves and to relationships in the future.
Being at home most of the time means that your toddler will often want to be involved in what you are doing. Toddlers and older siblings may want to get involved in holding and cuddling the new baby. They may want to play with the baby during routine activities such as nappy changing, dressing, having a bath or preparing for bedtime. The baby may look at his older sibling’s face with interest, study her mouth when she talks and copy her facial expressions, turn towards the sound of her voice or a rattle, and gurgle happily during a game of peek-a-boo. Older siblings soon learn that they are fun to be with, and that they have a new value within the family.
The following proven techniques will help to reassure your toddler:
- Actively make time just for you and your toddler when the new baby is sleeping or feeding (the tidying up and washing can wait!)
- Read a book together, colour a picture together, sing a song or get your toddler to help you with some jobs such as making lunch, gardening, cleaning etc.
- Be present in mind – as your toddler questions and listen to the answers
- Give lots of cuddles and expressions of love in front of the new baby so that your toddler feels included
- Give positive praise when your toddler has done something new of well and when they are kind or thoughtful to their new baby sibling
- Point out all of the grown up things that your toddler can so that the new baby can’t!
Why not try some of these tips to entertain your toddler with a new baby in tow!
- Find an old toy or home catalogue (or a magazine), a pair of safety craft scissors and some glue. Using sheets of paper or a scrapbook your toddler can cut and stick to their hearts content! If cutting out is difficult, the pages can be torn out, which is good for building hand muscle strength too. This can be enjoyed at a kitchen table while you are feeding or rocking baby.
- Shaving foam for sensitive skins squirted on a baking tray can also provide a quick source of entertainment for little fingers. Add a few toy trucks and small toy figures to encourage imagination. Your toddler will love this and it is easy to clean up later on.
- Dough is also great for rolling, kneading, and squashing and also excellent for developing fine motor skills. A few kitchen utensils will also extend all aspects of learning and development.
- Threading pasta on a string, a washing up bowl of soapy water to play with, treats or pretend treasure hidden in a bowl of polenta is fun to find too.
- Why not try matching lids to pots, pouring drinks from jugs to cups, bathing dolls, bendy straws tied together, and role-play or dressing up will keep your toddler busy and are good activities for when baby is sleeping.
- Entertaining toddlers doesn’t have to be rocket science, they love helping with everyday chores such as dusting, cleaning, baking, loading the washing machine, setting the table, and sweeping, which encourages them to re-enact real-life events and make sense of the world.
That’s the expert perspective. Here’s what I’ve been doing…
Life with 2 under 3 – How to introduce a toddler to their new sibling
Have a look for the best books to introduce a new sibling
Before Ishaaq was born, I bought the Princess Polly New Big Sister storybook. This became her bedtime story, and helped Hannah visualise and understand the change that was about to happen in her life.
A gift from baby
Ishaaq ‘bought’ Hannah a seesaw. I purposely bought something big and bold, so it’s something that she’ll really appreciate. The seesaw is one of the top 2-year-old product recommendations.
The first meeting
I made sure that baby Ishaaq was laid on the sofa rather than in my arms when Hannah first met him. This was she didn’t feel a physical barrier between us. Then we cuddled and talked about him together.
For my top tips on working from home with kids, click here.
Life with 2 under 3: My 2-year-old product recommendations:
Little Tikes seesaw
This makes for a great gift from a newborn to their older sibling. I bought the Little Tikes seesaw as it’s big and sturdy, and I can even sit on it. There’s room for three children to sit on t which means that it will come in handy for playdates. There’s cheaper seesaws on the market, but I chose the Little Tikes seesaw because it’s built to last lots of usage. You can get the seesaw here.
Lumie bedbug lamp
Did you know that blue light inhibits sleep, while red light promotes it? I didn’t either, but then I gave birth to a daughter that didn’t sleep. I’ve banged on about this many times in my numerous motherhood posts, but Hannah isn’t a great sleeper. She gave up naps when she was barely 2, and still wakes at night. So I wanted to give her the best chance of a good night’s sleep.
The Lumie Bedbug is one of the few lamps on the market that has a red light, rather than a blue tone. This apparently aids sleep. Also, with multiple light settings, it’s become an integral part of Hannah’s bedtime routine. It’s not cheap, but I figured I can’t put a price on sleep. You can get the Lumie Bedbug lamp here.
Nuby My Real Toilet Potty
So Hannah’s growing before my very eyes. One of her next milestones will be to ditch the nappies. I’ve heard potty training can be hard work and there’s a million ways to do it. So I’m giving the potty training the best possible chance. I’ve bought the pull-ups, and we are having the talk about using a grown-up toilet.
First, I hoped that I could just train her to go in the toilet, with the help of the Fred and Flo Toilet seat. The seat insert has a cushion-y top and fits into the adult toilet. I even bought the matching Fred and Flo stool so she could reach herself. Proper Adulting. However, I then realised that with a newborn to take care of at the same time, I couldn’t possibly make half hourly toilet trips upstairs with Hannah without a little accident en route. I would need a potty downstairs.
I was gifted the Nuby My Real Toilet Potty, and it fits the bill perfectly. It looks like a mini toilet (so cute) and even has a fun light flash as a way of congratulating her when she’s been to the toilet. It’s also a great way of transitioning her to nursery as they have mini toilets there, too. You can get the Nuby My Real Toilet Potty here.
Aldi kids teepee
I’ve been looking for a kids teepee for Hannah for a while. This is where the Aldi kids tepee more than fits the bill. Unlike a lot of the wireframe play tents out, the Aldi tepee is made of canvas and comes with sturdy wooden beams. It looks great, and is built to last. Hannah absolutely loves it, and it makes for a great hiding place (we use it to play “three little pigs”) as well as a makeshift picnic area. Honestly, it’s £30 well spent.
What’s that rumbling personalised Ooks personalised books
I’m not a huge fan of screen time, though I know it’s a necessary evil these days. However, when the team behind Ooks reached out offering a personal story book for Hannah which she could create via the app, it sounded like a great idea. She got to create a Hannah-Ook character based on her personal preferences such as favourite food, favourite activities and personality. She was even able to choose plotlines in the story! Best of all, the story book was printed out and posted to her. It was amazing to see that Hannah remembered her little Ooks personalised book. You can see the excitement in the link to my Instagram video. It’s a storybook just for her that she can cherish for years to come.
My 1st Years backpack
I’ve shared my love for My 1st Years personalised clothing in the post here. Well, along with personalised baby gifts, they do backpacks, accessories and toys too. Hannah was gifted this My 1st Years personalised backpack, which has an adorable cat design. With generous room for a change of clothes and a lunchbox, it’s perfect as a back-to-school backpack. And yes, it comes in the highly covetable duck egg gift box. That in itself is worth a purchase, not that I’m shallow or anything. With Hannah and my nieces joint birthday next month, I’m sure I’ll be making a few future purchases from My 1st Years.
So with 2 under three, I had a decision to make- do I buy a double buggy, or does Hannah walk when Ishaaq’s in the pram. I decided that as she’s still teeny, her little legs might get tired on long walks. Plus from safety perspective I didn’t want her walking all the time, especially near busy roads.
That’s where the ride on buggy board has been a saviour. This allows my toddler to stretch her legs and walk a little, with the option of jumping on the buggy board when she gets tired. Plus, it helps that the ride on feels like a mini adventure! My ride on buggy board is a hand-me-down, but I’ve linked some buggy boards here.
Little life toddler backpack with rein
When you’re out and about with a newborn and toddler, there’s every chance that the older child may go rogue. That’s where a backpack with rein comes in handy. I actually bought this Little Life backpack with rein for Hannah over a year ago and featured in a Christmas gift guide. However, it’s getting more use now than ever. Not only is it great for storing snacks (toddlers always need snacks to hand!), but the rein gives an added reassurance when I’m out pushing the pram so she can never stray too far. Mums of two-year-olds will know that they might decide to make a run for it at any given moment. You can get this lovely ladybird LittleLife toddler backpack here.
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About the Author
I’m not a makeup artist, chef, lifestyle guru or stylist. I’m just me. And like you, I’m trying to make the best of most things, only I’m sharing my warts-and-all thoughts along the way.