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 aHUGE 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!