Balancing Baby’s Needs With Family’s Needs


One of the hardest things about bringing home your second, third, fourth, etc. baby is figuring out how to balance attending to the needs of the baby and the needs of the rest of your family. People range from hunkering down and shutting down all family activities to expecting baby to hit the ground running. Some mammals can walk shortly after birth and some can run the same day they are born–but this is done for them to literally be able to survive. They need to keep up with the herd.


As humans, we are lucky I guess. Our babies don’t need to be able to keep up in order to survive–and we shouldn’t expect them to. But other members of the family want to get out and continue life. Just as we aren’t made to walk from birth, we aren’t made to hibernate (though some winters it sounds nice!). So how do we balance these needs of everyone? It is important to make things work for the whole family (see Baby Joins a Family {AND} Family Adds a Baby).


1-Write Down Baby’s Needs

I think it is wise to take a step back and first look at this situation logically. Start with a list. What are the real needs of baby? What does baby need to survive day in and day out? Let me give you some ideas. Baby needs to eat. Baby needs to sleep. Baby needs shelter. 


Take a step further–what are things that you believe a baby needs in life. What do you consider a need that isn’t necessary a literal need? Something I believe a baby needs is to have most naps in her crib–that is a belief I have. That belief stems from me wanting my child to develop good sleep habits. 


2-Write Down Needs of Family Members

First, I want you to evaluate real needs. Don’t confuse needs with wants. I think we often let ourselves think things are needs when really they are just wants. What does each family member need?


I believe social interaction can go in a “need” category. But I also don’t think there must be social interaction every day. That pushes things into “want” in my mind.


3-Write Down Wants of Family Members

Once you have a list of real needs, make a list of the wants of each family member. Johnny NEEDS to get out twice a week to play with friends. Now, what does he WANT? Does he want daily? Just three times a week?


4-Write Down Goals for Baby

Have a list of goals you want for your baby. I touched on this with number one. What needs to happen for these goals to be met?


5-Write Down Goals for Family Members

What are some things the members of the family want to be able to accomplish in the next three months? What about six months? What about year?


6-Combine All Lists and Compromise

Now look at all lists at the same time. What can go? What needs to stay? Where can each person compromise?


As you look at these lists, be creative. When I had Brinley, I didn’t want us to have to give up our activities but I also wanted her to be able to sleep in her own bed. I did lots of carpooling. I did my best to get lessons at times that wouldn’t interfere with naps. I got help. For more on what we did, see Managing Baby Plus Older Kids’ Activities


7-Keep Timeline in Perspective

As people are making sacrifices, keep the timeline in perspective. As baby gets older, baby is a lot more flexible. I find that once baby hits around 9 months, things get a lot easier and just continue to do so. It sounds like a long time, but it goes by in a flash. Soon, your baby will be old enough to “keep up with the herd.” But for now, she needs protecting and needs to be given her time to build her strength. There will be plenty of time for running around later.


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