Baby vs Toddler Balancing Act


Being a mom of two takes some fine balancing at times.  I am the baby of my own family and growing up my sister would often wail “you’re showing favourites to Sam cos she’s the baby”.  Naturally I would always disagree with this notion most vehemently but now that I am a mom of two myself I can see where my poor sister was coming from.

As soon as that second child is placed in your arms you start trying to learn the fine art of balancing the protective mamma bear of baby vs toddler.   Or at least I did.  Kade was nearly 3 when Gemma was born – he is a boisterous boy child.  Always on the move, always jumping, running, pouncing… I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to say “gently my boy, gently” when it comes to Gemma.  Or “watch your feet, you nearly kicked your sister in the head”  or “watch out you’ve nearly run over your sister with your bike”… I am a stuck record “be careful, be gentle, be careful, be careful, be careful” It’s never ending.


The fact is he is bigger than she is.  He knows how to use his body, she doesn’t so I am inclined to jump in to protect her from him because of it… the thing is this.  I don’t want him to feel like I am constantly on his case and “showing favourites” with her.  How do I balance this very real need to temper his boisterousness around her?  I don’t want to stop his natural want to show his love for her.   I don’t want him to feel like her can’t play with or interact with her because of this.

As she’s gotten older and has started grabbing and pinching I am making sure that I admonish her too when she grabs a fistful of his hair or when she pinches him.   But I still find myself saying things to him like “she’s just a baby my boy, she doesn’t understand why its wrong”.  Protecting her and “taking her side” over his.

This morning Kade and I were messing around in our bed while Cliff gave Gemma her morning bottle.  I was wrestling with him and was “holding him prisoner” with my legs and arms wrapped around his body.  When Gemma came to join us (was handed over by Cliff) he wanted to put Gemma in “brother prison” (I was calling what we were doing mommy prison) and he was pulling and tugging at her and she wasn’t liking it.  He was just playing with her (not too roughly but not too gently either) and I found myself jumping to her defense “cos she’s just a baby”…


Holy moly, how on earth do I find the balance in this situation?  I know it’s going to be a lifetime of playing referee between them, but I also really want to be fair to them both.  I do not want him thinking she’s my favourite because of this.  There is no favourite child – I love them both so much, so desperately, so differently…

What do you other moms of two or more do?  Do you just leave them to sort it out on their own (within reason)?  Have you found the balance with this?  Please share if you have!


10 thoughts on “Baby vs Toddler Balancing Act

  1. Sam, 4 years down the line, I have yet to find a solution. Admittedly, Alex was not nearly so boisterous, so initially I didn’t have to be aware as much as you currently do.
    Beth however, has dogged determination to monopolise the limelight EVERY SINGLE TIME. Poor Alex gets sidelined often. Often Alex gets more of a reprimand than Beth- because Beth ‘just doesn’t understand just yet’ I find myself excusing. I am trying to figure out what’s expected of 4 year old behavior, whats okay, and what’s not okay.
    I find I have to make special time for Alex- I have to take her out of a situation and have our time together, because if we have Beth, it won’t be the same.
    Also, to give Alex privileges away from Beth- she gets to have a play date with a school friend, that Beth can’t have yet. This unfortunately means time away from us, so she’s still not getting the same parental attention, but she gets to feel like she has something that Beth doesn’t have.
    Beth will become a drama queen when she is older. She scares me, and amuses me ALL THE TIME!

  2. Luckily we had the girlchild first and she was quite gentle with her brothers. However, even now I find myself constantly playing referee. Nowadays I often leave it to them up to a point but then I have to step in. When they are the age of yours one has to step in.

    What we did find very useful with A when we were in the space you are now is to give her her own one on one time with both parents. We took her on her own outings. Also there has to be privileges to being older – she now has a phone – the boys will get when they get to the age where she got hers.

  3. Sam they dynamic will change again at some point. Once he starts school he will need you more, so Gemma will come “second”. It will see-saw like this constantly. Well that’s what I found anyway. When you have more than one, someone will always feel “hard done by” – ALWAYS! You just have to do the best you can.

    I am battling with Kiara and Jack and their constant fighting and while I do leave them I obviously have to step in when they start getting physical because Kiara is bigger than him so she perceives it as me taking Jacks side *side*

  4. I leave them to “kill each other” as I say, but I don’t want to hear that in the common areas. However, the perpetrator of proper physical violence (and it flips all the time) gets put in time-out or gets a spank if they’ve been warned already.

    Then again, these are twins!

  5. Mine are 3 and 1 1/2 years old. It does get a little easier, but I definitely still play referee often. 🙂 Mine are just in the past few months getting really close with each other though. To watch them play together is the greatest thing in all the world! 🙂

  6. We struggle with this daily. I tend to side with the baby all the time now – maybe because he’s my last baby and I want to savour it as much as I can – who knows. But even though I used to caution the girls (A LOT) now that they are all bigger it gets easier. I just make sure to try and spend a bit of time with each of them, just for a little bit.

  7. Oh my hat lady. I am STILL struggling with this. And my kids are bigger. I do agree with Laura in a way. It flips all the time. At the end of the day, you can only do what you can do. It does help to have a bit of alone time with each kid. Even if it’s just 10 minutes per day.

  8. Unless I see real imminent trouble, I try to step back and not interfere.
    I try reasoning instead of giving the toy back to the little one.
    I show – see? he’s crying now. Don’t do this again.
    I also make sure I praise: oooh, Timothy’s such a big boy, he poops in the potty. Zachary, on the other hand, poops in his diapers. He doesn’t know how to poop in a potty yet. Or Zachary doesn’t have teeth so can’t eat all the yummy stuff Timothy is eating. I find this helps Timothy understand that they ARE different.

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