A lot of people ask what it’s like having babies 18 months apart. For me, it wasn’t as shocking as coming home with our first baby, but it was still really hard. It’s not just that I had a new baby, but for the first time I had a toddler…while caring for a newborn.
My life just had a “new normal” and I had to learn what to do one situation at a time. I depended on my husband a lot to help our toddler when I was busy with the baby!
My kids are now 6, almost 5, and almost 3. It was certainly overwhelming at first, but I wouldn’t change a thing! Here’s all the things you can expect in those early days of essentially caring for 2 babies at the same time.
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Why I was afraid to have a second baby close in age
I’ve always known I wanted to have more than one child because I love having siblings. But even still, I can remember how scared I felt about one week before my due date with baby number 2.
I was holding my 18 month old in the rocking chair, thinking…next week it will never be just you and me again.
Thinking (and feeling really guilty for it) how could I ever love another baby as much as I love you? (Hint hint, your heart literally doubles).
I was wondering how to help my toddler not be jealous of the new baby. Feeling kind of melancholy that my arms would be nursing a newborn so much that I’d have little time to snuggle my big baby.
I wondered about logistics like how to get groceries. Or how I would be able to “nap when the baby naps” this time around. Or how we would ever leave the house.
The future seemed scary, and yet…I couldn’t wait to meet my little girl!
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What it’s like having babies 18 months apart
To over simplify it, with each new baby there’s more to do and less of you. Here’s what I mean.
It’s much harder to nap when the baby naps
Before my second was born…I knew I was lucky that my 1st was taking 3 hour naps. The house was silent every day and I had 3 hours to myself. AMAZING.
There were days I didn’t even know how to use that time because there was so much of it! P.S. That’s when I started my blog. But, after baby number 2, I put my blog on the back burner and didn’t touch it for over 6 months.
My newborn’s naps eventually leveled out from all day to 3 daily (while my 18 month old took one long nap). There was 1 full hour a day where both were napping at the same time.
That’s when I would nap if needed. It was very hard to have no alone time at first, but as the baby slept better at night, I didn’t need to nap in the day and felt that I had a little time to recharge.
You’re keeping your newborn safe
When we brought my 2nd home, I was paranoid about my toddler whacking her or throwing a toy at her. To keep her safe, I :
- wore her more often than I did my first to keep her happy and off the ground
- set her down in the same room as me at all times
- taught my toddler never to poke the baby’s eyes. (It’s normal for them to want to touch them)
- Made sure I stayed there if my toddler wanted to “hold sissy”
You’re keeping your toddler safe
Keeping my toddler safe was trickier to me than a newborn!
You can’t leave medicine or your hot hair straightener on the counter. You’re still training them not to touch outlets. But even still, being home was the most relaxing because it was a controlled setting.
I can remember avoiding certain playgrounds because the play places were so high. I worried other kids would bump into him up high while my hands were full. My toddler was a late walker and he literally just started walking on his own weeks before my second was born.
When going places, I always got the baby out first so there was less time for my toddler to run off or get distracted around other cars.
I also taught him to put both hands on the car anytime he was waiting for me (to get my keys out, etc). This helped a LOT!
You have 2 ticking time bombs anywhere you go
Babies poop. Need nursed. Get tired. Cry.
Toddlers do too, except they try throwing fits when they are hungry, tired, or forced to go shopping for long periods of time.
Basically, I think my blood pressure was out the roof during any grocery store run solo.
My brain was all over the place. Half shopping, half talking to my toddler, half trying to find my grocery list I’d lost, half trying to ignore looks from people staring when my toddler was shrieking to get out of the cart.
In general, I knew we could make it through one outing per trip. Not easily two.
Diaper changes in public bathrooms are rough
When your toddler needs a diaper changed (or your newborn), everything and everyone goes into the same bathroom stall.
Your toddler fiddles between obeying you and trying to open the bathroom stall door while you pee.
Sometimes you didn’t pack the right size diaper and so you fold a size 6 down to make it fit your size 2 baby.
Sometimes you don’t have a stroller with you or car seat carrier so you baby wear while changing a toddler diaper. Your back hurts when you are done from leaning over with so much weight on the front.
But the other option is setting your baby on the bathroom floor, which I’ve had to do too when desperate.
Your hands are just so full.
Your diaper bag looks different
I was so inspired by my sister in law who carried this tiny purse despite having 4 kids at the time. Her secret: take only the necessities, and just enough for one trip…then refill.
Either way, with a baby and toddler, you’ll have to pack snacks, two sizes of diapers, and whatever else you need.
Here’s how to use your purse as a diaper bag, although I now recommend using a backpack instead of a purse so your hands are free.
Sometimes you have to carry two kids
There were many times I can remember thinking my bird arms were about to snap off carrying two kids and a diaper bag.
Sometimes toddlers throw fits and you just gotta exit fast. Or they won’t willingly leave a park when you have to go so you just have to pick them up.
And I’m a small person who has big heavy babies off the growth charts. Just sayin’.
You can’t do it all with 2 under 2
It was hard for me to feel like I went from “I got this” to “I can’t do this”.
With one baby, I seemed to find time to workout often at home. And do my make up. And sometimes make dinner. There were never two babies crying at once. I was able to follow my toddler around the house all day and pick up his messes.
And then with two, I was forced to lower my expectations of myself as a mom and wife.
I couldn’t get to a lot of things right away, like picking up pots and pans and blocks and books my toddler took out while I was nursing or cooking.
You will be tempted to compare yourself
I compared myself to moms with 2, 3, or more kids wondering how they got everything done. How they seemed to find time and motivation to have hobbies. Or look nice.
Don’t do this!
You are an amazing mom doing the best you can do. And just because someone you know makes having 2, 3, or more kids look easy…it’s not. And it probably isn’t for them either!
Just remember that 1 kid was hard because you had to figure it out. And now you’ll have to figure out how to do 2.
Leaving takes longer
Instead of giving yourself an extra 15 minutes with 1 kid to get out the door, just go ahead and double it if you need to be on time with 2. And when I had a third, I started getting ready to leave 45 minutes early!
We are generally an on time family, and here’s how we plan ahead to make it happen.
Reasons why you will love having babies 18 months apart
Now that I’ve shared some of the hard moments of having kids close in age, here’s why I would do it all over again and why I think it was so great.
Your kids always have a friend their age
When the baby could sit up around 6 months, that’s when she became interesting to my toddler. He brought her things constantly and started seeing her as a play mate.
I would say that as soon as my baby turned 1, they were actually starting to be buddies. She was an early walker and talker and could follow him around. Eventually they liked the same toys, shows, and activities.
Now that they are 6 and 4.5 and we are homeschooling, I’m even more glad they are close in age. They always have each other to play with, which I cherish when there aren’t other kids around.
When your newborn takes 3-4 naps a day, everything feels familiar again
One of the best kept secrets of having kids 18 months apart (or any gap for that matter) is that as soon as your newborn naps everything goes back to the way it was. Except now you are way more tired and can’t hop into bed.
But it’s just you and your toddler, and feels familiar with that one on one time.
Nap schedules will overlap…eventually
I tried combining the baby’s 2 naps a day into 1 sooner than I did with my first, so that they would be on the same nap schedule. (around 1 year I think?) It was amazing, and eventually they both napped for 2 hours a day!
I napped them in separate rooms…because when you have a good thing going like that you don’t want to ruin it! Once we had 3 kids, here’s how we napped them all at the same time.
They don’t remember life without each other
One of the reasons I think we didn’t have to deal with sibling jealousy is because they just don’t recall what life was like last week at this age, let alone without their sibling!
The bond a toddler has with their baby is pretty amazing to watch, and it’s no wonder they grow up overnight.
Milestones are close together
My kids are now 6, almost 5, and almost 3. Having babies 18 months apart means when one learns to do something, the others are not far behind!
From potty training, to riding a bike, to learning to write letters, it seems like when one finishes a phase the other begins.
Siblings will always have each other
I love thinking that my kids will have each other as grown ups. And go through college at the same time. And gang up on us talking about how weird their parents are.
While a toddler and a baby are hugely different as far as their needs go, it will be nothing when they are 30 and 32! They’ll be practically twins in grown up years.
How far apart will your babies be in age?
Leave me a comment below with how far apart your kids are! If you are pregnant, what’s something you are nervous about?
Remember, all this work you put in now is an investment of the best kind 🙂