“Mommy, can I hold the new baby?”
You and your husband’s eyes meet as you both scramble to find the right answer to tell her.
What an amazing picture it would be. Your oldest holding your youngest. Aww. But then you flashback to the time you remember her punishing her baby doll for not sharing by hitting her head against the wall.
“Uh…well…the baby has a poopy diaper, so you probably don’t want to hold him.”
Smooth like silk. But you know there’s going to be many more occasions that you’ll have to have a clever response ready to counter one of her requests. So you start off letting her help by taking baby steps. (Pun intended) You let her hand you a diaper, you let her throw away a diaper, you have her grab him an outfit, etc.
Then she asks if she can help feed the baby. By this time, you’re about a month into the insomnia stage of having a newborn, so you’re happy to have help from anyone. So screw it.
“Sure, you can feed the baby.”
Your 3yo does somersaults and jumps up and down with excitement to feed the baby. You neglect to take notice, that this may not be the ideal person to feed your newborn. But you, in your mombie-like state, slowly set everything up. You instruct your toddler to sit calmly on the couch and you put the Boppy around her.
When she’s settled, you set the baby on top of the Boppy and proceed to hand her the bottle. As she starts feeding the baby, you think for a second, my god…this is why you have 2 kids. I can have my oldest one raise the baby!
Wake up, you’re talking crazy.
Or are you?
So you sit there in the recliner, with your hand holding your chin to keep your head up, looking over at your toddler feeding him. She’s babbling away about god knows what and you’re working on your new “sleeping with your eyes open” skill.
Then you realize the baby is fussing a lot so you look at him, only to find that while she was telling you about how she did this new, amazing jump off the couch, she pulled the bottle out of his mouth and the nipple was now up his nose. Formula going everywhere. Who knows how much the poor kid took down a nostril.
Ok, so no more feeding without someone who’s consciously awake I guess.
From personal experience, I’ll tell you that there’s a ton of stuff my toddler has helped me with when dealing with the baby. She’s handed me wipeys when it was an “all hands on deck” moment when the baby had a blow out. She’s brought me bibs, burp cloths, diapers, etc. She’s even brought me my cell phone when baby bro was sleeping on me and I needed something to do. (Yeah, like you’ve never done it.)
But there’s also been a ton of times that she’s scared the hell out of me when trying to “help”. Like when I came around the corner and she was holding him under his arms. His body swinging side to side as she was trying to waddle into the kitchen with him. Or when I found her trying to give him her goldfish to eat when he was 2 months old.
Now that she’s got 6 months under her belt of being a big sister, she’s a little more wise to the things she can and can’t do with the baby. Me, on the other hand, I still don’t know what the hell I’m doing with either of my kids.