If your toddler is acting out and throwing major tantrums after the new baby comes home, I first of all want you to know that this is a normal part of helping your toddler adjust to the new baby.
It’s certainly not the most enjoyable time of parenting, but it’s not cause for alarm either, you aren’t doing anything wrong! The sheer number of times people find my blog everyday after searching something like “15 month old acting up after new baby comes home” or “older child throwing tantrums around new baby” should tell you that you are not alone in this struggle. It doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong, or that it will be this way forever.
In fact, if a tantrum throwing kiddo or a wailing newborn tears you away from this article and you’re unable to read it in it’s entirety just keep this in mind: If you see nothing else, let me assure you . . . You are not a terrible parent, and it will get better.
Bringing home a new baby really shakes up things for a toddler. It’s natural for him or her to regress into some old behaviors and begin acting completely out of character. It’s one of those not-so-fun stages of parenthood, but it is just a stage. While it will probably seem to last forever in the moment but it will pass before you know it!
Knowing it’s just a phase doesn’t necessarily make it easier, but it can give you hope that the rest of your life won’t be spent torn between two wailing children.
I know it’s one thing to say it will get better and it’s another to actually help you out a little and point you in the right direction, so I thought I’d include a couple of tried and true ideas that will help you and your older child get through the transition with your sanity still in tact.
Here are a few simple things that you can do to make a difference in your home today.
One on One Time – This is literally like waving a magic wand and turning your toddler into some one new. It’s astounding what 10-15 minutes of one on one playtime can do for a young child. Find ways to sneak it in during the day.
For us, I found that if I could get baby all nursed and her diaper changed and put her in her swing before my older child woke up in the morning it my toddler and me a few minutes of quality time together at the start of his day. There was a huge change in his behavior on days that I did this. We would go from having constant meltdowns in the morning (when we didn’t start his day just the two of us together) to a calm happy kiddo who was kind to his sister.
Every one’s schedule is different (and constantly changing now that there is another baby around!) but try to find ways to sneak in the extra face time with your older children. If he or she is acting out of character, try to find a way in the next thirty minutes to spend some time just with the older child. Eventually, you won’t have to go out of your way to do this as much, but it can make the difference between sanity and utter chaos in the first few months with a new baby.
Be consistent – I can’t stress this enough. In fact, I dedicated an entire chapter in my book about new siblings to consistency! I’m not one to tell you how you should be raising your children, but I can tell you that whatever was working before baby came, keep it up!!! It might not seem to be making a difference right away after the baby comes, but it eventually will start working again. Kids need that consistency in their lives, and they frequently act out, just to see if it’s still there, since everything else in their lives changed when the new baby arrived.
Find balance – With consistency and extra playtime, it’s important to find that balance that works for your family. Sometimes the older child might just need an extra hug, and sometimes he or she might need to be talked to about correct behavior around the newborn. Finding that balance between consistency and grace is not always the easiest thing when you are running on next-to-no sleep and have heard nothing but screaming for the past few weeks, but it can be found! Remember that kids are young, and still learning even when it seems like they should know better by now. Keep breathing, keep moving forward and I promise, it does get easier! You didn’t make a mistake by having another kiddo, they will learn and grow together as will you!
Remember that you are awesome – Your awesome-ness as a parent is not dependent upon the number of tantrums your child does or does not throw in a day. Tantrums are a completely normal part of childhood, and not a cause for alarm or guilt. Just keep going mom or dad. There are some days that you’ll be the awkward parent standing in the middle of the grocery store with two wailing children, and other days you’ll be the one with the perfectly behaved angel of a toddler and a sleeping infant that every one envies. Either way, you are a great parent and your kids will be just fine!
You can also ease the transition by getting your oldest a special new shirt they can COLOR. There’s one coloring shirt for big bro and one coloring shirt for big sis. They can color the shirts with washable markers to design them again and again OR use permanent markers to keep their original design forever! Kids LOVE decorating their own shirts and these are too cute!!!
These shirts are perfect for helping your older child announce your pregnancy too! They can do it in style with an adorable shirt they have designed themselves!
Looking for more ways to make your older child feel special? Try one of these sentimental gift ideas for the new big brother/big sister!
Elizabeth @ Real Inspired says
I’m just going through this with two year old. Lots of acting out and ignoring everything I said. He was fine with dad but took all his frustration out on me. Two months later, we are finally settling down to normal. Thanks for the extra encouragement!
So glad this encouraged you today! And yes, I get that too. Kiddos behave so nicely for daddy when he’s home but actu up for me ;) The joys of being the mom I suppose!
I have definitely learned this last time around with our three older kids. They always act their worst for mommy! The model child button turns on for dad and grandparents, but no fail, tears and attitude for mama. Oh well! ☺
Yes! Every. Single. Time.
I am due with my second child in August and really needed to read this! I shared it on my FB page as well!! :)
Thanks so much for your post, Paula. We have a one week old baby girl and two year old toddler girl. The toddler is having a hard time adjusting to the new baby and it’s mostly an issue at bed time and through the night. She gets histerical when my husband puts her to sleep in her crib, screaming and crying for about an hour (even with my hubby sitting by the crib). Then she also wakes up multiple times through the night screaming for mommy. I understand that some acting out is normal, but this does not feel normal. She seems so stressed out, possibly scared. Needless to say, it’s not easy on the parents either. I feel so bad that I cannot comfort her at night since all of my time is spent breasfeeding and cosleeping with the new baby.
I should also mention that we have had sleep issues before during the developmental stages (last one being at about 18 months). They were not nearly as bad though.
If you have any suggestions for us I would really appreciate it.
Hi I’m going through the same thing right now. Did your situation ever get better with the sleep ? If so how did u do it and how long did it take !?
i am sharing this to all my mama friends who just had #2 & pinning it to refer to later, great advice! I personally can’t wait for the chaos that is having 2 (or 3) babies running around!
I love these tips! Simple but encouraging! I’m especially a fan of #1 – quality 1 on 1 time! We are adjusting to life with a toddler and a 4 month old and it has definitely smoothed out as we are getting in a routine and adjusting to life as 4. I love the quote, my husband’s favorite word the last few weeks has been “chaos”. :)
Rachel Lee says
Thanks for sharing, Paula.
I had 3 kids and I have been through this. Such a hard time.
But finally, I succeeded. My kids get on very well with each other. :))
My two toddlers are harder than my new born at the moment. I want to cry after reading this. I have read 4 other websites and this one was the most encouraging. The other sites made me feel I was the problem. Thank you for writing this in a way that not only is sensitive to the child’s needs, but that the parent is struggling too. Can’t wait for this phase to improve.