A Parenting Survival Guide to Raising Babies Close in Age

Perhaps you conceived your second child much quicker than you originally anticipated. Or maybe, it was your plan all along to have kids close in age. Either way, you're now preparing for all the ups and downs that come with raising not one, but two babies at the same time. Daunting? Yes. Impossible? Not at all.

Raising a toddler and a baby simultaneously is no easy feat. Take comfort from the fact that others before you have done it while managing to survive with their sanity intact. Read on for your go-to guide on how to survive raising two babies close in age.

Stock Up on Diapers

One of the biggest challenges of raising two babies at the same time is that both will be in diapers at the same time. According to WebMD, a newborn will need 10-12 diaper changes daily for the first month of their life. With a toddler in diapers as well, you may start to feel as though all you do all day is change diapers.

If you're currently expecting your second child, start stockpiling diapers immediately. Stockpiling diapers will help you save money by allowing you to take advantage of low prices.

Cloth diapering is also an option for your babies. Although cloth diapering isn't for everyone, the potential money savings and environmental benefits are worth considering.

Prepare Your Older Child for Baby #2

Going from an only child to having a sibling is often a huge adjustment for a toddler. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help your little one prepare for their new role as big brother or sister.

You can start by reading plenty of books to your older baby about siblings, newborns and the importance of sharing. Talk with your toddler about what to expect when the baby comes and how they can help.

All of the attention and constant cooing over the new baby will likely make your oldest feel a little jealous. Consider picking up new toddler girl clothes for her or a fun toy and let her know they're from the new baby. By making your firstborn more excited about the new baby, you can potentially reduce some of the tantrums and jealousy after the baby's arrival.

Know What to Share (And What to Keep Separate)

A major benefit to having two babies close in age is that you've recently been through this before and, therefore, you already have plenty of baby gear. By the time baby number two arrives, your older child will have outgrown their newborn clothes, bouncy seat and baby sling, which will save you money.

That being said, not everything can be passed down or shared with the second baby. For example, you'll still need to buy two high chairs, two car seats, two cribs and a lot of bottles. Another must-have: a double stroller! Although your older baby may be starting to walk on her own, she'll still want to go in the stroller when her little legs get tired.

Enlist the Help of Your Toddler

Toddlers love helping out and being involved with daily duties. So why not let your oldest help with the new baby? Maybe you could have him hand you a diaper when the baby needs changing or let him pick out the baby's clothes for the day.

Don't forget to make a big fuss over your oldest when he's being a good helper! Reward your child when he hands you a diaper by telling him what an amazing older brother he is.

Figure Out Sleeping Arrangements

Consider having your younger baby sleep on the opposite end of your home as your older baby. Although this arrangement may not be doable for everyone, it can help reduce the likelihood of one baby waking up the other.

Let's face it: As a parent to two little ones, you need all the sleep you can get! Unless you've been blessed with not one, but two good sleepers, you're probably going to be downright exhausted for the first few months.

Separating your babies for sleeping—as well as keeping them on a similar sleep schedule—can help you maximize your own sleep. This strategy is also useful if you're using the extinction method of sleep training (aka, the cry it out method).

Pre-Plan Snacks and Activities

Once your baby is in the picture, your toddler will want your time and attention more than ever. To keep your oldest happy and entertained, it helps to have a few pre-planned activities and snacks for those first few months.

This is especially useful when you're breastfeeding. Your toddler will quickly figure out that this is the time when you're most distracted, and they may try to get into mischief. To keep your oldest occupied, give them a snack and play hands-free games like Simon Says or I Spy.

Know When to Ask for Help

Raising one baby is exhausting. Raising two little ones who are close in age can be downright brutal. One minute, you'll be swooning over them, and the next minute, you'll be frustrated to the point of tears.

When all of this happens, take a deep breath and realize that there is nothing wrong with asking for help. Reach out to your friends, relatives or your mom tribe. Have them babysit one or both little ones so you and your partner can get some much-needed sleep. It's amazing what an uninterrupted nap can do to your outlook.

You Can Do This!

While raising two babies close in age may be difficult, it's far from impossible. The key is to just accept that things will rarely ever go according to plan. Keep calm and persevere through the hardships. And remember: Your hands may be full, but so is your heart.

3 Min Read

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.