Seeing your toddler become a big sibling is one of the sweetest feelings in the world. Even with the most well-mannered toddler, adjusting to a new baby can be a huge shock for any child.
I have learned so much as we have added each of my four children, and these are some of my favorite ways to help your child adjust to a new baby on the way.
Do as Much Prep as you can Before the Baby Comes
Before the baby comes, the key is to talk and communicate about the baby coming as much as you can. It may be hard for them to understand because the baby is still in your belly, but these little hints can help them to know that change is coming.
Have the New Baby “Bring” the Toddler a Small Gift
This toy can be so simple and does not need to be fancy. A new book, some coloring supplies, or a new toy to play with can be a fun way to help your toddler get excited as they are meeting the baby. This will help them to see that the baby cares about them and not see them as such a threat.
Make a Special “Mommy Time’ Each Day
With any new baby, it is so easy to feel stretched thin and touched out each day. Spending 10-15 minutes each day of undistracted time with your toddler during nap time or when your partner has the baby can help them to feel loved and fill their cup. This will also help them to be more open to sharing time with a new baby because they know they will get their “special mommy time” later.
Create a Special Toy Basket to Bring Out While Feeding the Baby
Having a special basket of toys to pull out for baby feeding times really can help. You can include the most random items in it– toilet paper rolls, puzzles, cars, dolls, animals, you name it. You can rotate items and switch things out every couple of days to keep things interesting. It may not entertain them for hours, but will at least buy you some time to get a feeding in. You can look at Pinterest or check out the Target dollar section for inspiration of what to include!
Let Them be Involved in Small Tasks
This baby is their baby too! Let them help burp the baby, get diapers, get the baby dressed, and hold the baby as you help supervise. Remember that they need opportunities to strengthen their relationship with the baby as well.
Focus on the Good your Toddler Does
There can be lots of “no’s” with a new baby. Toddlers may hear “Don’t touch,” “be careful,” and as your toddler is learning and trying to understand boundaries, it can feel overwhelming. Try to find good things that your toddler is doing each day. “Thank you for being so soft with baby,” “That is so nice of you to share,” “I love how you helped me,” these little things can go a long way in reminding your toddler that they still matter in recognizing their positive actions.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
New moms need a village to get through each baby. If you’re having a really hard day, ask a friend to come sit with you, or a neighbor to play with your toddler for an hour.
Give Yourself Grace
You may have several weeks (or months) of not being able to parent to the level you have always dreamed of. If there is one thing we know around here it is that the newborn phase is survival, sometimes reassessing expectations of yourself and your toddler is the trick. Give yourself some grace and try not to be too hard on yourself. You will look back on these times one day and you’ll remember the relationships with your children, not the sparkling shiny sink in your kitchen.
You can thrive with a newborn and a toddler! Take each day one day at a time and use this time to connect with your growing family and show love in any way you can.