Picture this …
You’re settling down on the couch for the next feeding with your newborn. You’re just getting nestled in with your breastfeeding pillow, water bottle, maybe a snack, your phone, and are just about to kick your feet up on your nursing stool (or sure, maybe one of those Amazon boxes laying around from your midnight Prime ordering sessions). You get your squishy new baby to breast, just about to execute the Most Perfect Latch Ever and then, ….
Your newly-promoted-to-Big-Sibling-status older child has capitalized on this quiet moment to take advantage of their newfound climbing skills and independence, sending a few household items tumbling down, along with themselves.
Transitioning into life with a new baby is exciting. It’s also so. much. change. for your older children.
Suddenly, they’ve gone from the center of your world, to sharing their limelight with this entirely new person. And yes, eventually, they’ll build a beautiful partnership with each other and a love that will last a lifetime between the siblings. But until then, Big Siblings will often flex their “Big Kid Independence” in the light of hearing (more than) their fair share of “Not Now”s, or “Just a Minute”s while you tend to your newborn.
Enter: Busy Bags.
These low cost, simple activities for your older children will become your new best friends in the moments when your newborn’s needs can’t wait.
Busy Bags allow for your older child to work on a project that’s *just* for them while you feed or care for your newborn.
They’re activities that occupy their curious little minds, and their busy little hands, all at the same time.
Some of our postpartum doulas even carry a few Busy Bag selections in our tool kits when we support new families. What are some of our favorites?
Pom-Pom Balls and The Old Yogurt Container: We cannot even begin to tell you how popular this game is. Truly! All you need is about 20-30 small pom-pom balls, and an old yogurt container with a lid. Cut a small hole in the lid and smooth out the edge with a file if it’s scratchy. Invite your older child to push the pom-poms through the lid. Sounds so simple, and it is. But wowza, do we have a rush for this game each time it’s brought out during our Big Siblings Classes!
Paint Swatches and Clothes Pin Matching: Again, super simple but also a hit! Swing by your local hardware store and collect a couple of those paint swatch strips. Then, cut the edge off of each color. Glue a part of that edge to the top of a clothes pin. Your little one can work on their color matching and their manual dexterity at the same time!
Popsicle Stick Velcro Shapes: Grab a few popsicle sticks (The giant, tongue depressor size ones work really well, but any size will probably be fine) and put some Velcro sticky dots on the ends. Your toddler can spend quite a while building shapes and letters from them!
Felt Hamburger Creation: This one requires a little bit of creativity, but it’s also usually a hit! Grab a few sheets of felt from your craft store, and cut out shapes in the form of layers of a hamburger. Two buns, a patty, lettuce, pickles, cheese, onions, etc. Your child can spend a while forming custom hamburgers for you while you feed the baby! This also works great for felt pizza toppings, cake and cupcake creations, etc.
Spending a Saturday afternoon together creating these simple, and most importantly, quiet activities engages them in the preparation for baby.
It creates excitement for their baby to arrive!
Once the bags are made, they go into a special basket and only come out during the times that you need a few minutes to tend to your baby. This helps the activities maintain some of their “specialness”.
Oh, and Busy Bags can also translate well into Special Snacks, too! Offering a Special Snack (fruit gummies, Cheddar Bunnies, banana coins, or fruit smoothie popscicles) are another great way to help your older child not feel left out each time your baby has a feeding!