Life after baby with older siblings presents its owns particular joys and challenges.
In truth, when my third was born with siblings aged 2 and 4 years, I make the joke that every newborn should come with a 4 year-old. She was so capable and helpful, rocking the cradle so I could take a shower, finding the pacifier when I dropped it, grabbing a clean diaper when needed, and more.
One of the biggest challenges for me newly postpartum was finding ways to meet my older kiddos needs for boisterous activity, when I felt like snuggling in with little one and staying put.
Here are a couple free resources we make use of now when indoor fun is needed that work great for older siblings with a new little one in the house.
Cosmic Kids Yoga
Free on YouTube, this channel combines narratives your kiddos may recognize with easy to follow yoga poses. And, the channel also offers some guided meditations, which can be great if you need to bring the level back down to calm in the house.
These playful combinations of movement and rhymes or song can definitely make a dent in the wiggles. And, I've found myself busting out some of these when we are waiting in line or in a less than ideal situation and my kids need to focus their energy - some of our favorites include Purple Stew and Pop see ko.
Having a short list of simple games to play can make it easier to snuggle baby in the rocker or carrier and keep kids occupied. Simon Says, Red Light/Green Light, Freeze Dance, and any other childhood favorites can be great tools.
Looking for other tools to keep older sibs entertained? Read about how we use audio stories and art tutorials in our postpartum toolbox.
Looking for more support in the days and weeks postpartum? Head on over to Nested Mama and learn more about in person and online support services.
When it comes to postpartum life, I'm all about the food. Nutrient dense, delicious food that can be easily prepared or, even better, brought to you by friends and family.
Last week, I shared with you some ideas for how to plan you postpartum food support before baby arrives. Today, I'm sharing one of our family's favorite easy slow cooker meals that I turn to frequently, even though I'm some 30 months postpartum myself!
Good food that can be made easily and fuel your family with good things never goes out of style, I find.
As you look at the ingredients, know that I share our favorite vegetable variation in the recipe, but what makes this recipe truly AMAZING is its flexibility. Have carrots instead of sweet potatoes? A squash? Regular potatoes? Zucchini? Like to add kale or spinach? All are fine with this recipe - just sub the veggies you have on hand and make it work!
Slow Cooker Lentil Chili
Inspired by a Zippy Lentil Chili Recipe from Weelicious
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for 5-7 hours. Top with cheese, guac, or a few sweet potato chips to add a nice crunch.
Love sweet potatoes as much as I do? Check out these great postpartum recipes.
In many of the classes and workshops I offer, we talk a lot about how you can set yourself up for a better life after baby by planning and preparing during your pregnancy.
In the early days and weeks postpartum, having nutrient-dense meals prepared or easily reheated can be huge in making sure you can recover well from birth and have the stamina to meet baby's intense needs.
In cultures that have a rich tradition of postpartum support, there are specific suggestions for what the birthing parent needs from a nutritional standpoint after delivery. (Both The First 40 Days and The 4th Trimester are rich resources on this topic.)
If you want your meal planning to center more on meals that appeal to you, your partner, and any older siblings, that's fine, too. As with many topics I cover with my prenatal and postnatal clients, let what works and supports your family the be the guiding principle in your preparations for life after baby.
If you have a close-knit community, it may only take a friend or family reaching out with an email or signup sheet on your behalf to get a meal train going. On the other hand, if you're friends and family are more spread out in diverse groups, an online meal train may be the perfect option to organize the efforts of all those who want to love on you and your family. Easily shareable via social media or email, an online meal train also offers you the opportunity to specify so many aspects, including meal types and delivery options, too.
Freezer Meal Stash
Stashing your favorite easily frozen meals while in your third trimester is a great option for meals post-baby. I often recommend a make one/prep 2 approach to clients, where each week you plan to triple a freezer-friendly recipe. Eat one that week and put two on ice for later. Before you know it, you'll have a stocked freezer and fed yourself well in the process.
Many areas now offer online grocery purchasing with streamlined pick up or even better, delivery right to your doorstep or counter. Take the opportunity pre-baby to explore your local options, book mark them on your phone or computer, and find which works best for your family. This will make it straightforward to get groceries with as little time and effort as possible once baby arrives earth-side.
If you are like me, learning how to ask for help has a huge learning curve. Make it your default when friends or family ask how you are doing, to say that you would welcome a meal or assistance with meal prep. If you are the one who usually prepares all the meals, before baby is the perfect time to help your partner gain confidence preparing some simple meals that you both can enjoy.
Hire a Doula
Doulas can help make sure you are fed, too! Prenatal doula support is an excellent option if you need assistance stocking that freezer. You may also want to hire your postpartum doula before baby arrives - that way you'll go into the last weeks before baby confident that you'll have the support you need, including meal prep and more.
That special season is coming - you can sense the change in the air, right? As adults, the holiday season may contain obligations, to-do lists, and more - but seeing it through the eyes of our kiddos, the sense of magic all comes back.
If this is baby's first Christmas (or another holiday your family observes), you may be wondering what to put in the stocking or under the tree. One strategy I use when crafting a gift wish-list for my littles (a list that grandparents/aunties/uncles often ask for well in advance) is to think through what presents will bring us joy not just in the coming winter months, but for years to come.
With that in mind, I share below some gift ideas that have had true longevity in our house.
Wooden Unit Blocks
Their large size means these blocks are safe for little ones to grab, but their open-ended play possibilities mean years of fun (we're at 6.5 years and counting here!). We've found that starting with a basic set has allowed us to add blocks with color, mirrors, or other materials to add some layers of sensory engagement to block play.
Tegu Magnetic Blocks
While I enjoy these blocks as an adult, they are particularly great for little ones who are in that stage of wanting to build but often frustrated when the pieces don't stack like they want. And, the addition of magnets adds for a different twist on this fine motor activity. Packing just 4 blocks in my purse provided great entertainment on the go for my kiddos.
Wooden Train Set
If your little one is close to his or her first birthday, now may be a great time to add a simple train set to your list. Your participation may be required to help build a track for awhile, but eventually your child will delight in that part, too. Like the open ended wooden blocks, we've had toddlers as well as 12 year-old cousins get a kick out of our train set.
If you don't have the perfect year to get outside in colder temps, now is a perfect time to add that to your list. If you are set for winter but not the warmer rainy temps, adding a coverall and some rainboots will make it possible for you to enjoy spring weather, too.
Holidays mean roadtrips for our family and having good tunes is key to everyone's happiness. Check out the link above for some of our favorites and add a CD or digital download to your little one's Christmas list.
The more holiday seasons I journey through with my children, the more I value experience gifts. Instead of taking up space in our house, these gifts allow us to find joy together. Locally a music class at Preucil or West Music, a membership to the Iowa Children's Museum, or parent and baby classes like yoga or music
Stainless Steel Dinnerware
While it may seem impossible now, little one will be joining you at the table soon (if not already). Investing in some quality stainless steel dinnerware means you can feel confident that these dishes will last a long time.
This tray comes with a cover, perfect for storing in the fridge or taking on a picnic.
Stainless steel cups with silicone lids will last you from the sippy cup stage and well beyond. My 6 year old still drinks out of this size stainless steel cup, so we've gotten years out of our similar set, instead of buying new cups for each new stage.
Did I miss one of your favorite ideas for baby's first Christmas? Share in the comments below!
Johanna received a Ph.D. in English in 2014. Now a postpartum doula and educator of childbirth, breastfeeding, and infant sleep, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.