What is the best way to help your toddler prepare for a new sibling?
One of the many things that I worried about when I was pregnant with our second child was how our 2-year-old daughter, Zoe, would react to having a new baby in the house.
Actually, if I’m being honest, it was my NUMBER ONE concern.
Would she feel jealous? Left out? Completely traumatized by this new ginormous life change?
After our new baby boy was born our daughter was very affectionate and loving towards him. Now that he is 4 months old, she can’t stop giving him hugs and kisses at least 5 times a day. It melts my heart every time.
But this new fondness for her baby brother didn’t come without a few hiccups along the way.
Now looking back with my 20/20 vision I know she acted out a little. Not directly towards him, but in her own not-so-subtle “I’m throwing a tantrum but I just want a little more attention” way.
There was about a 4 week period where she was throwing significantly larger-then-normal temper tantrums after our newborn boy was born. In fact, they were darn-right gnarly at times. I remember thinking “where did my sweet child go?”
Since then she has adjusted quite well. But it has been a learning experience for all of us! We have learned so much about our first born since the arrival of our new baby.
10 Simple Ways To Help Your Toddler Prepare For A New Sibling
10 simple ways to help your toddler prepare for a new sibling:
#1. Talk about it with them frequently.
Don’t surprise your toddler by bringing in another tiny human behind their back. One of the best ways to help your toddler prepare for a new sibling is to start talking about it with them. Start the talking at least as soon as you tell family and friends about your pregnancy. Your toddler will need time to process this information about the upcoming change.
#2. Explain the role of big sister (or brother).
We reminded Zoe daily that she was going to have a lot of new responsibilities when “baby brother” arrived. It was important to us that Zoe see that she would have a very important role as big sister so that she didn’t think she was being left behind. For example, when she played with her puzzles we reminded her that she would need to teach her little brother how to play with puzzles also.
Also, explain that your toddler will need to “look out” for their new sibling, and how special the role of big brother or sister will be. They will enjoy hearing about how the baby will want to try and do everything they do!
#3. Give them their own “baby” to practice with.
When I was about 5 months pregnant my mom bought Zoe a baby doll. Our goal was to try and teach her how to be “gentle” with the baby. She actually took to it quite well and enjoyed playing with it. When ever we talked about the new baby coming we would say “where is Zoe’s baby?” She was able to have her own “baby” to practice with and she loved it. Now that her little brother is 4 months old, she still enjoys playing with her baby in her crib at night.
#4. Give your toddler books about becoming a big sister or brother.
We gave our daughter 2 new books about becoming a big sister and read them to her almost daily. She loved pointing to the Mom’s belly and saying “baby in there!” Having pictures to look at really helped her process the idea of having a younger sibling.
In addition, reading the big sister books gave us a regular reminder to continue talking about and including our toddler in conversations about the new baby.
#5. Give them a gift from the new baby.
Right after our son was born, we gave our toddler a new picnic set that was a “gift” from her little brother. When she played with it we talked to her about how she could have a picnic with her little brother soon. Our newborn also “gave” our daughter a new “I’m a big sister” shirt (in purple, her favorite color!). She felt like a million bucks.
This one was so important to us since there is a lot of attention put on a new baby. We didn’t want our daughter to feel left out of the excitement or hold resentment towards him. Our goal was to keep our attention equally on her as much as we could.
Here are 10 simple ways to help your toddler prepare for a new sibling!
#6. Talk about how much fun it will be.
My husband did a great job of talking to our two-year-old about how “fun” and “cool” being a big sister will be. He really embellished on the fact that he would learn so much from her and look up to her. Even now when we try and teach Zoe a new life lesson we talk about how she needs to be a good role model form her little brother. She just loves it!
#7. Praise your toddler for being the best big sister EVER.
For the last few months of my pregnancy my husband and I would ask our daughter “who is going to be the big best big sister ever?” Every time she would excitedly reply “Zoe!”
#8. Stay calm during meltdowns.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a mother it is that my child reacts to how I act. Melt downs are inevitable. It an unfortunate, but completely normal part of toddler hood. However, if I become upset then it only upsets my daughter worse.
I learned this lesson the hard way after taking several road trips with my toddler. Having an additional child in the home only makes things more stressful and easier to lose it when one kid is getting crazy.
#9. Give them a little extra attention and love.
During the last few weeks of my pregnancy I made sure to spend a little extra time in the evenings preparing for bed with my daughter. We would spend 15-20 minutes reading books and then turn the lights off for another 15 minutes of “snuggle time.” There is no better way to help prepare your toddler for a new sibling then by showering them with a lot of extra love.
#10. Practice gratitude.
This one never fails. Gratitude helps me handle difficult situations with more grace. At the end of the day I am so grateful to have two beautiful, healthy children. Even if it means months of newborn baby exhaustion, a messy house, and total craziness for a while! Since it was my second and last pregnancy, I knew I wasn’t going to get this experience ever again. So I wanted to enjoy it while it lasted!
Are you the parent of a toddler who is expecting a new baby soon? Are you doing anything to try an ease the transition for your toddler? I would love to hear so please leave a comment with your thoughts!
I am excited to announce that our baby boy arrived!
On January 8, 2018 at 10:59am Oliver made his way into the world weighing in at a sturdy 8 lbs. 1 oz.
He is chubby and extraordinarily cute, nursing like a champ and has the most adorable baby babble. I had forgotten how incredibly sweet baby sounds are. Oliver’s snuggles and baby noises are the best!
My (very brief) birth story:
We arrived at the hospital at 7:30 for our scheduled c-section. I was full term and 39 weeks. After getting checked in and set up we finally headed over to the surgical suite around 10 am.
I had a scheduled c-section (unlike my first, an emergency c-section at 33 weeks due to a placental abruption). It was a much more relaxed environment with fewer nurses and other staff in the room.
I was given a spinal block which numbs the entire lower half of the body from just below the diaphragm. It is the weirdest feeling to not be able to feel or move your entire lower half!
The doctors had a difficult time getting Oliver out. After the surgery I was told that he was wedged in at a difficult angle to grasp. After several minutes of effort to get him out they had to use suction just to get a grip on him.
Our baby boy arrived with a great set of lungs!
Our sweet boy finally arrived.
Oliver came out kicking and screaming, which is the most reassuring sound for a new baby to make. He was much bigger then the doctors had expected him to be. In fact, they told me that it was a good thing I was set up for a c-section because there was very little chance I would have been able to get him out on my own. They said I would have ended up having another emergency c-section anyway!
Oliver was exactly 2 times bigger then our daughter was when she was born so he felt like a huge baby! Looking at him I couldn’t believe that he had actually fit inside my stomach.
Fortunately, Oliver took very well to breastfeeding, which was a welcome relief (it had been difficult with our preemie). He seems to be able to self sooth with his fingers and has been relatively easy (knock on wood!) to care for thus far. As long as he is fed every 2-3 hours, changed frequently, gets his sleep and is held frequently he is a happy camper!
There were a few surgical complications that I was not anticipating.
I lost 2 liters of blood during the procedure. According to my doctors I had a few large vessels that they were trying to bypass but still ended up causing a large amount of bleeding. As a result I had even more post postpartum bleeding over the next 24 hours. This resulted in me needing to have a total 4 blood transfusions and multiple different anti-hemorrhage medications.
It was a bit scary and uncomfortable for another day and a half after my c-section. Luckily we were able to get the bleeding under control and I was able to be discharged on day 3 to go home. What a relief!
Zoe is doing great in her new role as big sister.
Our daughter can’t stop giving Oliver hugs and kisses every chance she gets. We do need to keep as eye on her though because she does try to squeeze him hard and force his pacifier into his mouth (out of love and her desire to help).
So far she has not expressed any jealousy towards sharing her time with a new tiny human (hopefully we can keep it this way!).
Zoe tries to help by letting me know when Oliver needs things like toys, a blanket, or his pacifier. It is so sweet and melts my heart every time.
My mom friends are so helpful.
Some very sweet friends brought over some of their old baby items that have really helped us out with Oliver. I am so glad they did because I never would have even known to get them myself. (FYI- the BEST invention ever is the Doc-A-Tot Grand. It has been a game changer!)
Life is good.
I am so relieved that our baby boy arrived safely and is a healthy baby boy. There is no greater gift then that!
My husband has been able to be home with us for the last week but he will be heading back to work tomorrow. It’s going to be a bit of a challenge caring for a very energetic two-year-old and a newborn for nine hours a day by myself.
I haven’t figured out how I’m going to manage that yet but lots of women do it so I’ll just have to figure it out day by day.
Wish me luck!
I had an appointment with my OB two weeks ago and everything appears to be progressing normally with my pregnancy (thank goodness!).
However, I did have one tiny little scare. When looking at the screen I noticed that our baby was measuring at about 26 weeks, which totally freaked me out since I was 28 weeks.
When I brought it up to my doctor she said “No, everything looks great and you are 26 weeks.” To which I responded: “but I’m 28 weeks!” She looked at my dates and said, “No hon you’re 26 weeks and right on target!”
Seriously? How is that even possible? That is one of the biggest differences between my first pregnancy and my second. I was an entire two weeks off on how far along I was. And I have been so busy with a toddler that I didn’t even know it.
First pregnancies are magical. Second pregnancy’s are cool too, just way busier.
Caring for this little one is a lot of fun. But I’m so much busier with a toddler these days that I lose track of time.
In my first pregnancy, I could tell you to the day exactly how far along I was. Weekly belly selfies were taken every Sunday to mark my progress. I knew exactly how big my baby was in terms of vegetable size, weight and length.
I practically studied fetal development on a daily basis. Weekly emails were delivered to my inbox telling me each and every detail of our baby’s milestones. I knew the exact time when she could open her eyes, suck her thumb, hear noises from outside the womb and every other possible developmental detail.
During my first pregnancy I practiced yoga at a studio several times a week, alternating between Vinyasa and prenatal. Then I would watch Netflicks and chill, sometimes marathon style. After all, why not? I was pregnant and I had the time.
Also, I also read every single baby book ever published (fyi, Baby Knows Best and Bringing Up Bebe where my favorites!).
My husband and I even started taking weekly Bradley Method classes. Which didn’t help me at all during my emergency c-section at 33 weeks. But hey, I ultimately still got my healthy baby girl, so who cares?
My second pregnancy has been cool too, sans all the extra me time that I had with my first. Toddler care taking has replaced pretty much all of those activities this time around. That is how I ended of forgetting how far along I was by two entire weeks!
Busyness aside, I love being a mom and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Baby Boy has reached eggplant size. Yum!
I’m trying to enjoy the joys of pregnancy while they are here. Despite the weird symptoms, there is something so amazing about being pregnant.
I have joined the third and final trimester, yahoo!
Our amazing veggie is now 14 1/2 inches and weighs in at 2 1/2 pounds. Right on track! Nice job, little dude.
Even though I haven’t met my mini-man yet, he has definitely been making an impact in my life. Many of the symptoms of my first pregnancy have returned. I’m suddenly clumsy. I’m fatigued. I have heartburn at least once a day. And I have the worst pregnancy brain (so embarrassing).
In addition, I have even welcomed a brand new pregnancy symptom that I didn’t have last time: lovely varicose veins, on my left leg only. They are SO delightful, I tell you. Once the temperatures finally dip below 90 in Los Angeles I’m going to have to resort to daily compression stockings – toe to waist – for the remainder of the third trimester. Pregnancy sure knows how to make a women feel sexy!
Zoe is going to have big sister responsibilities soon.
Zoe is going to have big sister responsibilities soon!
I love watching how my little girl is reacting to my belly bump with amazement. She now looks at it and says “baby” in the cutest, innocent voice. I don’t think she fully grasps that there is an actual human is in there… yet. But we are trying to verbalize it to her and are reading her a few children’s books about becoming a big sister.
Tonight she was able to say “baby boy” which pretty much melted my heart. She is going to be an excellent big sister! I can’t wait.
I have a few goals to reach before childbirth.
We are only five weeks away from the time when I had Zoe via emergency C-section. Although I am planning on having a full term baby, truth is that you can’t always plan ahead. Therefore, I have a few goals I am presently working on in advance:
#1. Have a healthy full term baby.
I will be relieved to finally pass the 33 week mark. My doctor says the chances of having another placental abruption are extremely low, which is reassuring.
#2. Continue working as ER nurse until it makes sense to stop.
With the help of my nifty 30mm graduated compression stockings, I am going to continue working as an emergency room nurse until I am either:
a) too big, or
b) too exhausted, whichever comes first.
As a per diem registered nurse I am not granted disability or maternity leave benefits. I can take up to 6 months time without losing my position, but I receive zero compensation before or after childbirth. Once I’m out, I’m out for a while. So I’m trying to hang in until it makes sense for me to stay home.
#3. Figure out how to have a 2 year old and newborn share a bedroom without constantly waking one another up.
This one has been a real zinger for me as I can’t figure out how I’m going to make this work. The newborn will stay in our room for several months but then what?
If anyone has any tips on goal #3, I am all ears. Any expertise in this area is appreciated.
At the end of the day I am so thankful for a healthy, happy family.
Life is busy and tiring, but it’s all good. Pregnancy is a gift. Having children really is a miracle. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for a wonderful life and good health for my family and friends. That is the only thing that matters.
Thanks for reading.
Sarah, Mother Nurse Love