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!
Hi, I’m Sarah and its lovely to meet you. I am happy that you are joining me on my first blog post!
This is my maiden voyage out in the blog writing ocean. I have so many things I want to talk about, and I am craving a creative outlet by which to share my interests: motherhood, life as an RN, healthcare prevention, babies, kid safety, superfoods, my love of yoga and pretty much anything else related to healthcare. Not a very narrow niche. So, for now, I’m just going to start writing and see where my heart leads me.
A little about me:
Christmas circa 2016, Roseville, CA.
Way, way back in the day at Chico State I majored in Journalism and was a budding writer with a weekly column at our student newspaper, The Orion. Shortly after graduation, I decided that newspaper writing was not for me. So I completely changed my plans and entered the field of medical device sales.
I worked for nine crazy, intense years observing various surgeries and hustling medical equipment to operating rooms up and down the west coast. Weekly travel was the norm. I probably spent the equivalent of a few years living in hotel rooms during that period of my life.
Over time this left me massively burned out and desperate for a change. My resume, however, said that I was a salesperson and limited my opportunities.
I made a drastic career change-up from corporate sales exec to BSN student.
This was taken during my pediatric rotation at Kaiser West Los Angeles. I was such a newbie nurse!
A longing for greater clinical medical knowledge and the desire to be a better human lead me to go back to college and earn my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. To stay this was a challenge is an understatement. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life!
Leaving a high-paying job to go back to school for three years to come out with a lower-paying job is not the most financially wise choice. However, it did make me a lot happier in the long run. Following my passion for healthcare has been one of the greatest life changes I have ever made.
I began my new career as a registered nurse.
I began the RN residency program at UCLA Medical Center on the Neuroscience and Stroke unit shortly after graduation. A few years later, I passed Stroke Certified Registered Nurse Certification and began training other new graduates in my unit.
In 2015, I completed the Yoga Works Urban Zen Practitioner Program at UCLA. The program was designed to help nurses care for patients in a more holistic way by combining the benefits of eastern and western care. I got to learn more about some of my favorite things: yoga and in-bed yoga movements, guided meditation, essential oils, and Reiki. It was an incredible learning experience, and it ultimately changed how I give care to my patients.
In early 2017, I was accepted into an RN training program in the Emergency Room. It is intense, challenging, and exhausting, and I love it! Definitely not for the faint of heart. My skills have been pushed to the limit, and I can officially say I am fantastic at difficult IV starts. I guess that’s what happens when you start five or more IV’s in a day!
Being a nurse means that I never stop learning.
I dabbled in the medspa industry for about eight months as a side gig because I thought it was a career I was interested in. I became certified to use various lasers (IPL, hair removal) and also got certified to give injectables (Botox, Juvederm, ect..). It was fun for a while, but I ultimately decided to stay full time at the hospital because I am way more passionate about the clinical side of nursing.
There were “perks” to being in the medspa industry that I liked, like free injectables and free skincare products. Eventually, though, I realized that wasn’t a good enough reason to leave the hospital, and I didn’t love the work.
Healthcare and wellness have always been a passion of mine.
Nursing school helped me foster this passion and gave me a solid foundation for understanding health and the human body. I do my best to stay up to date on current healthcare and nutritional studies, and I try to be a good educational resource for my patients and family.
The stress of my first career lead me to search for ways to better care for myself. I started practicing yoga and meditation regularly, and it has remained a happy habit for over a decade. Now I incorporate it into my daily life and don’t know where I would be without it. There are a lot of things I practice at home to keep myself and my family healthy that I am excited to share on this blog.
My newest job title is Mommy (and I couldn’t be prouder!).
On Halloween morning in 2015, my husband and I welcomed our daughter, Zoe, into the world. She is a spunky, sweet, and smart little lady who has changed our lives for the better. I apologize in advance for the ridiculous amount of baby photos that I am sure I will post in the future. I can’t help it, I’m a proud Mama!
Zoe made her arrival seven weeks early due to a very rare and dangerous condition I got when I was 33 weeks pregnant called a placental abruption. In short, the placenta (lifeline from mom to baby) that was giving Zoe blood, oxygen, and nutrients suddenly disconnected from my uterus. This caused me to hemorrhage internally instead of delivering blood to where it should have been going- to Zoe!
Luckily right as it was happening, I was feeling terrible, and my husband had taken me to the hospital to get checked out. I was lucky to be there in the nick of time to have an emergency c-section. My doctors informed me that babies don’t usually survive placental abruptions, and we are forever grateful.
Zoe is our miracle baby, and we thank our lucky stars for her every single day. There is no better gift than the gift of a healthy baby!
My current gigs are:
Mom of two toddlers
Wife to an amazing husband
Freelance writer and blogger about preventative health, nutrition, self-wellness, life as an RN, family, motherly interests, and other topics I think are cool
Our very early days as new parents.
I have a few goals in this writing journey: explore the awesomeness and insanity of motherhood while trying to balance a career as a nurse, nurture a happy marriage, foster friendships, and continue to learn and share healthcare information—basically, all the lifestyle things I love.