(New York, New York, USA)
I just recently found out that I'm pregnant with my second child. I had a period of lying in with my daughter and would like to do that again. But, I'm wondering how to manage her needs (she'll be about 2 years old when this baby is born) and still keep myself focused on this new person.
Currently, my daughter is still nursing 2 or 3 times a day for comfort. It's highly unlikely, but she might be still nursing for comfort then. More than likely my mother-in-law will be here, but my husband may not be able to be around as much due to work. I don't want my daughter to feel abandoned and want her to start to feel a connection to this new baby. Do you any suggestions?
I think lying in with your baby is very important, but it is hard to figure out how to have that special time while you’re also caring for any older sibling. Lying in becomes more of a family activity, especially if your older child or children aren’t just toddlers.
I recommend doing some special preparations for your toddler. You can plan on still nursing her if she's comfort nursing at that point — many mothers find their older nurslings are very helpful with preventing engorgement in the early days postpartum. You may want to read some mothers stories online of how they handle tandem nursing if you think your little one will still be nursing at that point.
Aside from tandem nursing preparation, you should make some plans just for your toddler. I found that having a special box or basket filled with toys and books was really handy when I had a young toddler and a newborn. These don't have to be new toys, but I would put them aside awhile before the baby comes so they seem fresh when you pull them out again 🙂 I like to pick out little things I think my older children will like. Coloring books with crayons and other clean activities are a lot of fun (I would avoid markers or anything else messy).
These toys and activities help you keep your little one happy and they keep her near you if you're the one that will be keeping an eye on her.
As you know, newborns sleep a lot so you can take advantage of this and read to and cuddle with your toddler. If you'll be eating your meals in your room, you can have a “picnic” on the bed with your toddler at mealtimes. Snacks can be simple affairs shared together.
Include her in the baby's care, asking her to bring you diapers, clothes, burp cloths, etc. Even the smallest “big” siblings love to help with the new baby. You may want to have a baby doll for her to care for as you care for the new baby. These tried-and-true suggestions have helped many siblings start to build a strong bond.
I think it's important to cuddle with your toddler and let her know you're still here for her, but do let others help you with her. I know you said your husband's schedule is uncertain, but when possible let her do fun things with Daddy and Grandma. Special walks, long bath times, or hours reading the same books over and over again are things that can build a bond with Grandma while you and the new baby build your bond. She can also help other adults prepare food for you, do laundry, clean, etc. These will help her feel proud of herself and connected to you even when not directly with you.
Best of luck with your new baby and with your growing toddler!