Helping your child adjust to the new baby isn’t as hard as you think!
Your new baby is almost here! But there’s that lingering fear all second time mamas have.. “How will my first baby adjust to having a new baby around that will take away from his spotlight??”
Don’t worry! Some jealousy is to be expected, but there’s a ton of gentle, easy ways to make your toddler feel included and important still once the new baby arrives.
My boy was just under 2 when my twin girls were born. I had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days, and they had to be flown to a NICU (check out our NICU story as well as some other inspiring NICU miracles if you want to smile!), so it’s safe to say, his world got turned around all of a sudden!
I went from being available ALL the time (I was too pregnant to move so just read books all day!) to suddenly taking care of his sisters.
He actually adjusted really well, and hardly regressed in his sleeping or potty training!
That’s not to say he doesn’t still, at 2 1/2, have occasional meltdowns about things they do.. but that may just come with the toddlerhood territory!
Here are the methods I used to introduce the idea of a new sibling (or siblings!) to my toddler!
Let your toddler be involved with planning for the new baby!
According to many, MANY studies (If you’re curious, an article on decision making with references is listed here), it’s very important to let your toddler make choices when they can.
It helps them become a more independent person, as well as feel in control of something.
Seeing as there are so many nos in a 2 year olds life (No you can’t go in the road, no you can’t have sweets for breakfast, no you can’t wear your underwear on your head!) it really helps with their confidence to be able to choose something for themselves.
So how can you apply this to help your toddler deal with a new baby he or she definitely did not choose? Let them pick out clothes! If you’re at the store, say something like “Hm, should the new baby get the pink onsie with an elephant, or this spotted one with a dog?”
Keep it simple, but try to get them as involved as possible with the planning process. If there are two diaper bags you like, and you don’t really care which one you get, let your toddler help! Then talk to him about what things need to go inside to help care for the baby!
Read books about what being a big brother/ big sister means!
I absolutely love books! Books are great for explaining and illustrating things that are easier for kids to understand than just talking about it. With all new ideas and concepts, I always look for a few good books to help me get my point across.
If you love the outdoors, you may also be interested in checking out my favorite camping books for toddlers!
The three I found below were super helpful. Each talked about what things might change, the positives that will come out of having a new baby around, as well as explanations of why things are the way they are now! This includes the baby crying, mom and dad a little busier than normal, and having to be more careful of leaving toys out and such.
They are all super cute, and most have a “Big Sister” counterpart!
The last one even mentions breastfeeding, which is super helpful if you are going to go that route!
Buy a baby doll and practice taking care of it with your toddler!
This is a great way to let your toddler know what all is involved with taking care of a baby!
Practice changing diapers, clothes, as well as feeding and burping the baby doll!
When your actual baby comes, you can still use the baby! Just ask your toddler to take care of his/her baby anytime you are caring for the baby.
This is a great way to keep your child involved during things like diaper changes and feedings. Kids love to feel helpful and important too!
I love this doll below because it has an easy to use diaper and bottle!
((You can click on the picture to be brought to it’s Amazon page for more info!)
Try to keep the same routines as much as possible
Kids thrive when on a schedule! I’m not talking some rigid thing when they’re little, but a general way things happen.
This might include books in the morning, some outside time once it warms up later in the day, then a show sitting together at night.
One of the best examples I ever heard for why kids need a schedule is this “Imagine driving down a dark bridge, and there are no railings. You drive really slow, you are nervous and unsure of yourself. Now imagine knowing there are railings! You can drive much more confidently because you aren’t so scared of falling off, and you don’t worry about going astray somehow because the rails will keep you on track!”
At the end of my pregnancy, I was GIANT. I mean, it was a stretch to walk across the yard. I had a summer pregnancy, so we normally played outside a lot. This, of course, was non-existent now, so I just did the best I could.
I was able to still read books in the morning, then for our outside time I got a comfy camp chair I could move with me to hang out wherever he was.
There was definitely an increase of TV time, but it was shows he liked and I made sure to actually talk to him about what was going on when I could. Not going to lie, sometimes I slept because I was exhausted! But I did always try to interact as much as possible.
This applies to after the baby being born too. Even if it’s only one of these activities you still do, it’ll help your toddler not feel like it’s such chaos with all the change!
Once the baby comes, don’t forget to squeeze in one on one time with your toddler!
Though it might be tempting to just pinch chubby cheeks all day, and record every new sound they make, don’t forget about your toddler!
After all, before the baby, the world was his oyster!
I liked to do this by using the first nap time of the day to do stuff with just him. That means that for one hour, I didn’t do dishes, space on my phone for a break, or pick up.
If your baby doesn’t nap great yet, just try to fit it in when you can. You aren’t going to ruin him if you don’t spend a solid hour! Even 5 to 10 minutes is great!
Or perhaps your baby doesn’t sleep at all, and you’re so tired that you take the extra time to close your eyes. I definitely put a show on more than a couple of times and fell asleep on my recliner with my son wrapped in my arms!
I was lucky that I had a ton of help, so I was able to do things like take him to the store whenever I had to get something. Your toddler will love the one on one time!
Remind your toddler of how great of a big brother/ sister they are!
I’d try to include Luke as much as possible in the day to day activities of a new baby. He would throw away their old diapers, get some wipes, bring me my water if I left it somewhere far away, get some new clothes for them, etc.
I always try to comment at how big of a boy he is, and that he is being a great big brother! Even though at the time this was written my twins are 9 months, he still loves to read his big brother books.
Just today he helped get ready to go to the park by getting his sisters each a pair of socks, some clothes, and fed them snacks when they were unhappy to make them stop crying.
I of course mentioned how great of a big brother he is!
Speak positively of the baby (and your toddler)
Toddlers understand SO much more than we think. I am surprised every day by the stuff my guy does, or the stuff he has learned that I didn’t even teach him!
This is also true of the attitude and tone of voice you have. Children look to us to know how to react, and what to feel. You’ve probably seen it when they fall down, and it wasn’t THAT bad, but they immediately look at you to see your reaction. If you laugh and smile, they probably will too. I, however, always freak and need to work on that!
Anyways, try your best to not talk bad about the baby. Even if the baby didn’t sleep well, or cries a lot, or anything else, try to focus on the positive.
I’ve noticed on days I let my frustration show, my toddler grows irritated with their crying way easier than normal!
I try to explain why they are crying (They are growing new teeth, and it gives them big ouchies) so that he might understand a little better. And if I feel myself getting frustrated, I try to remember that it will be doubley worse if I have angry babies AND an angry two year old!
I just focus on the positives; their giggles, their quirks, and the fact that we go on alot of walks lately! It’s the only thing that can calm both of them down at the same time, so at least it’s convenient in that we all get to go outside!
With these techniques in mind, your toddler will adjust to a new baby in no time!
Just keep your sleep deprived self from getting frustrated, and try to remember that so much has changed for him! You are an adult and it’s hard; imagine how hard it is for a little person who doesn’t yet know his place in the world!
Before you know it, your baby will get older and they will all become friends and crack each other up!
P.S. If you too are expecting twins, please connect with me if you have any concerns or comments!
I love meeting other twin mamas! Here is some advice I have written for my fellow twin moms!
- What my Mo-Di twin pregnancy was like
- How having twins was such a different experience than a single!
- All the breastfeeding, pillows, and other gear you will need to breastfeed twins!