I don’t know that you can ever fully prepare your toddler for a new baby joining the family. I remember in the months and weeks leading to the delivery of our daughter that I spent quite some time looking up tips for preparing and helping our toddler adjust to a new baby. I also remember asking my friends for advice.
Not only was life about to change for my husband and I, but it was also about to drastically change for our little guy as well.
When baby Claire arrived, I was surprised how well Charlie handled it. Rather then being confused or uncertain, he was excited and I truly believe it is because we not only prepared him, but continued to keep this adjustment in mind for weeks after the baby arrived.
Here are some things we did to help our toddler adjust to a new baby in the family.
Prepare in advance
Before baby #2 arrives, prepare your toddler by talking about his soon to arrive sibling. Talk about what babies do and his or her role as the older sibling.
Get them exciting about having a baby in the house. If it is a positive, exciting thing, then your toddler will look forward to the baby arriving and will somewhat know what to expect.
I had Charlie help me organize his sisters room and I showed him where she would be sleeping and why.
Some great ways to get them thinking about a sibling is by reading books around this topic. There are so many cute books and the illustrations are really positive and imaginative. It makes the thought of a new baby in the house less frightening.
Here are a few cute ones:
Include your toddler
When the new baby arrived, I was so busy and my toddler noticed right away. I didn’t want him to feel left out so I always made sure to include him in whatever I was doing.
For example, if I was changing the baby, I would ask him to help me by bringing me a diaper and then taking the dirty diaper to the trash for me. When I was feeding the baby, I would swaddle a teddy bear and give him a bottle to feed his baby as well.
He loved doing whatever I was doing with the baby and by giving him some responsibility, he felt included and like he had a role in the babies life.
Try to maintain their schedule
Most toddlers are on some sort of schedule but when a new baby arrives, sticking to the original schedule can be really hard.
Children feel safe when they know what to expect. A new baby is already so much to take in so suddenly drastically changing the day to day routine can really throw them off track.
I made it a point to not interrupt my toddlers existing schedule as much as possible. We still kept our morning, noon and bedtime routines the same. I didn’t change his nap schedule and we still made sure to spend lots of time reading books and doing our usual bedtime routine.
Newborns take a lot of our time as mothers and sometimes toddlers get impatient and bored rather quickly. When I knew I had things to do that would take longer like breastfeeding, pumping, putting the baby down for a nap, etc, I would be sure to have distractions ready for my toddler son.
Sometimes I would let him watch a show, other times I would have a snack ready for him. Having toys and games prepared really helps keep them busy so they aren’t pulling and tugging on your while you are trying to tend to the baby.
One on One time with your toddler
This is probably one of the most important one of all in my opinion. Before the baby arrived, your toddler was the center of your world and he or she had constant one on one time with you. Suddenly he or she has to share this time with someone else and I think that can be a really hard and emotional thing for a toddler to grasp.
I made sure to always spend uninterrupted one on one time with my toddler every single day. When the baby was napping, many times I had piles of chores to do but I would get on the floor and play cars or hide and seek with him.
We would read books and sing songs before bed and when I had more time, we would go on lunch dates, just the two of us.
Teach them to love
Whenever Charlie would act out towards the baby (this usually happened if he was jealous), I would stop and have a conversation with him about how he needs to love his sister and protect her, not hurt her. I explained that God gave him a sibling so that he could have a friend forever.
Children are so smart and he started to understand that he needs to love and protect her, and not hurt her.
It’s been over a year since Claire joined our family and the two of them are now inseparable. Charlie doesn’t want to go anywhere without Claire and the love they have for each other is the most precious thing to watch.
The adjustment from one to two small children can be challenging but once everyone adjusts, it is such a beautiful thing to see two siblings interact.