Welcoming a new baby into the family can really rock a toddler’s world! In the past, I have written several posts about how to prepare your toddler for a new sibling before the baby is born. Today, I’m sharing 8 ways to make the transition as smooth as possible after the baby has already arrived.
Each of these tips were extremely helpful for our family in the first few months adjusting to life as a family of four. I can’t say that it was a super easy transition going from one baby to two, but these 8 things certainly helped the transition go as smooth as possible. This post contains affiliate links.
1. Expectations – After baby comes it is normal for the toddler to regress back into some old habits that you thought were long gone. For us, it was tantrums. We had just gotten past a really intense tantrum stage a few months before baby was born. After she had been here a week or two Little Man was right back at it again, throwing fits like nobody’s business! I had heard from many other mamas that this is to be expected so I was mentally ready for it, which made it much less stressful when it happened.
2. Be Consistent – When your older child acts out, try to keep in mind that everything in the toddler’s little world has just changed. That can be scary for him/her and the child will be sure to test all the boundaries that have long been in place. They do this both for attention and to see if the boundaries have remained the same while everything else was changing. It’s key for mama to stay calm and stay consistent. I did my best to handle each outburst in the same way that I would have handled it in the past. This helped my boy realize that some things (like rules) are staying the same. It is hard to be consistent while also tending to the needs of a newborn but toughing it out, especially that first week, helped so much in the long run!
*If you are looking for ways to deal with tantrums specifically, check out this post I wrote about what helped us work through tantrums*
3. One on One time -This seems like a no-brainer but it is hard to remember to do it consistently. Every day I try to spend some time focusing completely on my older child while the baby is in her swing. Even just 10 or 15 minutes of 1 on 1 time does wonders for my son’s behavior! Most of the time, when he is really acting out I realize that it’s because I haven’t given him that alone time enough during the day. I do my best to fix that as soon as I can.
4. Involve the Toddler in whatever you are doing – My son loves “helping” with his sister. He does simple things like bringing her paci when she’s crying or singing songs to her. Oftentimes when I’m nursing we will read books together on the couch so that Little Man is not excluded.
5. Try not to get mad when the toddler’s “help” is not helpful – I can’t tell you how many times Little Man has decided to “help” by attempting to shove a pacifier in the peacefully sleeping baby’s mouth or decided to “share” something heavy with her by placing it on her head etc. etc. It’s so hard not to respond to him in anger but I don’t want him to be afraid to interact with his sister. Instead of reprimanding him harshly when he means well, I just try to steer him in another direction.
Example: He likes to brush her hair, but that’s (obviously) not the best activity for him. Instead of telling reprimanding him, I encourage him to tickle her feet or something similar. We make sure that interacting with baby is safe & fun for both of them and not something he gets in trouble for doing (except for those times when he’s intentionally trying to harm her).
6. Let the toddler still be a baby – Little Man still loves to be the baby. When he gets of the tub he asks to be swaddled and rocked like a baby. Every. Single. Time. I have chosen not to take that away from him, because he will always be my baby. I never want him to feel like Princess has replaced him in anyway. Even though he may not be able to put it into words, I feel like when he holds his arms up to me and asks to be the “baby” what he’s really asking is if I still love him the same way that I used to. He’s making sure my love has not changed. He’s my big boy, but he’s also my baby and he’s free to alternate between titles as much as he wants.
7. Be ready for simultaneous melt downs – It amazes me how often they have synchronized scream fests! In fact, if you come by my house at 5pm on any weeknight you will be able to witness it first hand! My only advice for this would be to make sure that you are emotionally prepared for this because it can be really draining. Keep in mind that kiddos fussing does not me that you are a bad mama! WE have all been there (or we will be at some point) so just remain calm and tend with whichever child’s need is more urgent, or most easily fixed.
Example: baby girl is screaming because she’s hungry and Little Man is fussing for a sliced apple – I usually get the apple first because then He will be calm while I feed his sister (which takes more time). Sometimes there are no easy fixes and I’m just left counting the minutes ’til Daddy comes home to help, but that’s not everyday. (side note: On crazy nights like those I always try to text hubby on his way home and warn him so he comes in prepared to help out!)
8. Invest in a sling or carrier for the baby – I had carriers when my son was a baby but I barely used them with him. Now, I wear the carrier multiple times a week, we can hardly survive without it! It’s hard to fit both kids in the shopping cart at the same time and so the carrier saves the day every time we go to the grocery store! It’s also helpful at the park so I don’t have to lug a stroller every time we go. My ERGO is my favorite, it is worth the money, but I know it’s not always an option to purchase one, so here’s a handy link where you can get a coupon code for a free baby sling (some other great, free baby gear there too)!
Growing to a family of four has, overall, been easier than I was expecting. The main difference is that I am more confident as a mother. I’m not paranoid and stressed all the time the way I was when my first child was a baby and that has truly made a HUGE difference. The second thing that has helped immensely is the fact that my husband & I have already been through it together once. We know the stresses a new baby puts on marriage and we’ve learned how to communicate our needs to one another as we go through the adjustment stage again. We’ve learned to be patient, and also how to take intentional husband/wife time, even when we’re unable to go out on dates. These changes have made all the difference in the world!
BONUS GIFT: Download this free interview to do with the new big sibling. There’s one for new big brothers and one for new big sisters. It’s a fun activity and turns into an adorable keepsake. (Or see more about the big sibling interview here)
Consider getting a fun gift for the big sibling to help them celebrate the new baby.
Coloring shirts are one of the MOST fun ways to do this. 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!
You could also create a customized book for the new big brother and big sister.
Are you planning on giving big brother or big sister gifts to the older siblings when baby is born? What gift(s) will you give them? Here are our favorite meaningful ideas!
For even MORE tips about preparing your toddler to be a new sibling, and helping them transition once the baby arrives, check out my ebook on the topic! I know that every one is busy, so it’s a quick read that can be read in small snippets while the toddler is sleeping or while you feed the baby! Check out the book by clicking the image below.
Because of the overwhelming response on this post, I decided to write a book, that is more in depth on the topic, to help moms prepare themselves and their toddler for the new baby. I intentionally made it a super-quick read but really fun and encouraging at the same time! Click on the image below to see the product on amazon!
Please share in the comments if you have any tips to add! I’d love to hear your ideas and advice!
I found #3 to be so true for one of my sons, before and after our daughter arrived. He just likes to take periodic breaks to spend one-on-one time with me. It could just be sitting on the couch talking, pretending dolphins are splashing us, or anything he thinks is interesting at the time. And just those few minutes (it’s hardly ever longer than 15 minutes before he’s ready to go off and play again) made such a big difference in his attitude. I think it ties in with #6. He just wants to make sure the baby hasn’t taken his place in my life.
Thanks for this great post!
I couldn’t agree more! This is really great advice for someone with a growing family, whether it’s moving from 1-2 or more. Another good job for a toddler or older child is to let them “help” bathe the baby. For us, this simply means handing the child the wash cloth and letting her wash baby’s tummy. It makes her feel so big and helpful!
that’s such a great idea!!! thanks Gabrielle!
Kristen @ Smithspirations says
These are excellent tips. When our third was a baby, I didn’t realize how much I neglected to hold our second child until I noticed a friend carrying around her little girl who was the same age as our second child. After I noticed how much the little girl was still held, I made efforts to pick up our toddler when the baby was asleep. Our toddlers behavior improved tremendously, and I learned a very important lesson.
Motherhood causes us to constantly be learning doesn’t it? :)
Thank you for your post! I felt prepared before we had our little girl, I was aware there would be some bumps in the road to transition, but everything was smooth up until a couple of months ago when she became more mobile and our little boy realized she was a real human and was demanding more attention. I’ve been using all your tips and they really do work. It was a good reminder, however, to keep it up and continue one-on-one time.
Here’s something I am looking for a solution for, please anybody feel free to answer: our 3 year-old has decided to start hitting or pushing over his 8 month-old sister. He loves her, trust me, he loves her and loves to play with her, but he’ll either run through the house and slap her in the face or just push her when she’s sitting up. I’ve asked him what happend so not to jump to conclusions and punish him for an accident–which works because a few times it was an accident, but mostly he’ll tell me “because I wanted to push her”. We’ve tried the spanking and sending him to his room (which I don’t like because I feel it’s a confusing message), I’ve tried talking to him and letting him know it’s not nice, and I’ve tried taking her from him by saying “well, it seems like you don’t want your little sister so I’ll take her, maybe if you can be nice to her I’ll bring her back.” This last one is the only one that actually has good results, but it doesn’t always work because he’s still doing it. Any suggestions?
hey Amy! I sent you an email so I could write a longer response than I could here. Check your spam filters <3 I hope it helps!!!
Judith at WholeHearted Home says
This is excellent advice since you are current with toddlers and babies right now :-) I really appreciate that you take the time from your busy schedule with a toddler and newborn to share because this is such an encouragement to other young mothers. Sometimes it feels like you are the only one going through tantrums and meltdowns. Thanks for linking up over at WholeHearted Home.
Thanks so much Judith :)
Kate Kelly says
I am due with my second baby girl in a couple of months, I have found so many lists do ways to help baby #1 get prepared for a sibling, but this is the first one I have found with advice for the after birth adjustment. Thank you so much!!
I’m so glad this was helpful to you Kate! good luck with your next baby! it’s definitely an adjustment period, but it’s wonderful too :)
One of the things that worked really well was using the boppy pillow to let our oldest “hold” her baby brother. They were 22 months apart, so she didn’t have the strength to hold him yet. Of course, trying to help your toddler hold a baby is super uncomfortable for a momma! I would sit her on the couch as far back as she could go, put the boppy on her lap, and then lay her brother on it but leaning against her. Her hands were free to touch his feet, rub his tummy, whatever. I still sat right beside her, but it made her feel like she was truly holding him and caring for him. They had some sweet bonding time like this <3
Corynn, I love that idea! My son will be only 18 mon when our daughter is born so even communication is an issue! Having the boppy as an associate for holding her would be perfect! Thanks for sharing!
This is very encouraging. My little man is two and my princess s two months old. For awhile there I thought I was doing something wrong! My only issue is that my son takes absolutely no I interest in his sister. I’ve tried everything to get him to ake some sort of interest, but no luck so far. Any ideas?
My Little Man was like that for the first few months as well. The baby couldn’t really do anything fun so he wasn’t interested. Now that she’s able to crawl around (she’s 9 months old) and interact with him some he has a lot more fun with her! I wouldn’t worry about it right now, the interaction will come with time : ) Also, I’ve found with my son, the more I push something on him the less he’s interested, so it may help if you just leave it be and let him decide when he wants to be interested in her. But again, I think it’s totally normal for him not to be interested yet.
Very smart thoughts here. It was extremely different when baby #2 was born because baby #1 was 6. She didn’t melt into tantrums or cause a problem when shopping. These are great reminders – thank you!!
Glad this was helpful for you : )
Hi! I came here through Pinterest, and have just been through this stage. My girl is three and a half and my boy a little over one years old. There are a few things we still do, big sister likes to sing lullabies, and we give her one on one time.
One thing I haven’t read here yet that we did was this: as our little boy was born, we made quite a fuss about our girl for becoming a big sister. We decorated her bedroom with garlands, we made a t-shirt saying ‘big sister’ that she got to wear o school and things like that. She loved that we made baby’s birth into a special event for her too.
Also, we had put balloons in our boy’s play pen so out cat wouldn’t claim it as hers. So on the day our boy was born, our girl got to take out all the balloons and she finally got to play with them. Again, making the occasion special for her, giving her her own part to play.
All in all I think things went pretty well for us, I hope our ideas are helpful!
those are such fantastic ideas!! I’m so glad you shared them! My son would have loved the balloon idea :) He’s balloon obsessed. If I make a part 2 of this post do you mind if I include your ideas?
I totally agree with the benifits of celebrating the big kid, it helped our daught so much when her brother was born and “gave” her a present. I had preped something special for her in our hospital bag so when she came to visit she knew she wasnt “second” in our minds, now we’re expecting number 3 and I have bags ready for both of them anx shes already asked about if this baby was going to give her a present of not! I got a laugh out of that told her we’ll see and knew she would be excited on the day rather then be sad or disappointed because iwasnt spending time with her. We also had the kiddos get something to give the baby so its like an exchange.
This was great, thank you so much! We’re expecting our second in a few months and I was wondering how we’d all handle it. This gives some very helpful ideas of what to expect and what to do. I especially liked the bit about letting the eldest still be your baby. I still call my little guy my baby and love to hold and cuddle him and I don’t want him to miss that when his brother is born.
I’m so glad this was helpful to you Karen! :)
Our oldest is definitely STILL our baby and the youngest was born almost a year ago now… Everyday he refers to himself as “the baby” and I just go with it. It’s working for our family and I think it makes him feel secure. They are both my babies and they always will be! ;)
Thanks for the advice! I’m expecting baby #2 this month and my little girl is still definitely a toddler. We’ve not had many people share tips for the transition, so I’m glad to read them here.
Stephanie Person says
Great points!! #8 was my favorite thing when I had my daughter. Since a 2 year old is demanding of your time it was easy to strap the baby in a sling and be “hands free!” God bless your kiddos! XOXO
This is amazing. I’m due any day, and we recently found out my son has developmental delay….talk about stressful. His tantrums make me crazy, and I did ABA therapy for kids with Autism for years. When it’s your own….ugggggh…could also be because I’m pregnant lol
I’ve been stressing even more wondering how i’m going to get him to deal with the new baby boy, thank God I found this on Pinterest! Amazing advice.
This already makes me feel relief knowing I can prepare for tantrums and know that he’s not getting upset just because of the developmental stuff and not stressing that I’m doing a horrible job. Thanks again for this blog. Amazing.
I am so glad you cam by today Annie :)
You are Not doing a terrible job!!! I’m sure that you are doing fantastic! I’m glad this list helped you! :)
This blog was… how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped
Kim McNaughton says
I just found out I am expecting baby number 5! My youngest is 2.5 so this was good to read to be reminded what this will be like :-)
ジャケット 最高級 says
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ジャケット 最高級 says
There’s definately a lot to find out about this topic. I really like all of the points you’ve made.
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Betsy @ BPhotoArt.com says
Oh, these are great tips. I’m glad to have read your post, this and your other one on preparing kids to be big siblings will be so helpful :)
Oh yes, number 5 and number 7 – I remember it well!
I would just add what I wrote on your “getting ready for baby” post that I found it really helpful if the older one was allowed to hold the baby whenever they wanted to (and some days it was A LOT) they sat on the sofa with cushions on both sides and I popped the baby on their lap, usually only for a minute or two. We have loads of photos of this which is nice to have and it really seemed to help them connect.
Oh yes, and also check your baby for toys/flowers/bits of grass whenever you pick them up, my daughter was always leaving “presents” for her brother on his tummy whilst he slept!
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These are great tips that will come in handy in a few months. :) I am headed to check out your post on tantrums right now because my son has been hitting those hardcore lately! Ugh!
Some wonderful tips for a hard transition. Definitely that one-on-one time with your toddler so they know they are still your baby, too!
You can’t imagine how happy and relieved I’m after reading your post! I have a 3 years old, and waiting for a new baby in 2 weeks. My husband is freak out because my toddler is a “tantrum queen” since 2 weeks ago, I’m sharing this info whith him. Thanks!!!!!
Thank you so much for this! I am 20 weeks pregnant with baby #2, and although I’ve had family and friends’ advice, I really needed to read something like this!!
Couldn’t love this post anymore!! I am pregnant with my daughter and my son will be a year and a half when she is born. This had given me a lot of relief with my anxiety about the days when I will have 2. I plan on getting your book and seeing what other ways I can transition. Thanks!!
Reading this now has me ready, I am pregnant with #2 right now and my toddler will be almost 3 by the time he is born. Lately, I’ve been anxious and worried how I am going to do it, I’m so glad you took the time to write this for mother’s like myself because it has reminded me that I can do it! Thank you again! :-)
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I just read through this and your 5 Ways to Prepare Your Toddler to Be An Older Sibling. That was some great advice! I saved them both so I can refer to them repeatedly and remember them. I’m currently 5 months pregnant with our second, and I’ve been reading up on how to prepare our toddler son for his brother’s arrival. Your advice was new stuff that I had not read before. Thanks for sharing!
Bex Martin says
Wonderful advice, I just brought home our second baby. My little boy (2.5yrs) loves her and enjoys having cuddles with her, and he n I have cuddles on the couch when I feed baby, and when weather is nice we play in his sandpit. But I still have a hollow feeling in my stomach and constantly crying as I’m worried he will think I’m neglecting him or dont love him anymore as baby needs so much attention at the moment.
It has been long since your post. I got a lot but still need some.
My 3 y old son follows a girl who is 17y old.
Now am expecting another. I try to prepare the litle one but he doesnt want babies. I try with friends babies telling him if he would like to take baby home he says no, do you want mama to have one? He says no.
I took him to the clinic when i did my sonner so that he can see and make a video e refussed to stay in. Wou what now? He does not want a baby!!!
Grammatical errors are so commonplace.
Great post! Thank you so much for your helpful tips. My older son used to struggle with the idea of having a little brother, someone who would share the attention of his parents. However, he has been acting a lot better lately after using your tips on the issue.
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Bobbie Flaborea says
On March 30, 2013 you replied via email ideas of what to try if older sibling , 2 1/2 , hits sibling about 7 months… On purpose… The mom tried talking, spankng, sent to crib/ room..all above mom didn’t feel good about….. Then saying I’ll take baby away as you don’t want her… The last worked best but not totally…..
OUR STORY IS ALMOST IDENTICAL….it’s hard to spend enough TIME with older child! Any ideas? THANK You ‘!!
Thanks for sharing! This advice is helpful for going through the stage. It’ a big transition for toddlers!
Ashley Hoober says
One on one time became so important for my kids and I when my youngest was born. It was a good excuse for me to spend quality time with my older kids, as well as having a break from changing diapers haha
Bella Marin says
I had twins! And it was a HUGE adjustment for the family, especially my oldest !
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Getting to adjust your younger one with the newborn is a challenging task for mothers. It’s tough for the elder one too no matter how much he or she is prepared for it. Once they accept it in a practical manner, it is not less than a joyride for them.
So, in any case, mothers are expected to deal with patience and be careful that they don’t hurt their elder ones.
Great thank you for sharing the amazing article,