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Bringing home a new baby? Get your toddler ready for a new baby with strategies that can help him adjust to them.
This experience can be a little nerve-wracking, but you can always make it a tad bit easier for everyone in the family.
Our firstborn was 18 months old when we had his little sister. As our first, he was used to the undivided attention we shower him. He was the center of our universe — quite literally.
Then suddenly, a new baby came along, and everything changed.
I wouldn’t even dare to pretend that it went smoothly for us.
“Hugs can do great amounts of good, especially for children.”
~Diana, Princess of Wales
- 1. Start Fostering the Connection Before the Baby Is Even Born
- 2. Make the Baby’s “Birth” Day Special for Your Toddler
- 3. Give Your Toddler a Helping Role
- 4. Keep Your Toddler’s Routine as Normal as Possible
- 5. Set Aside One-On-One Time with Your Toddler
- Final Thoughts about Getting Your Toddler Ready for a New Baby
- Do you have any tips or tricks on how to get your toddler ready for a new baby?
Yes, your toddler will likely feel excited and curious about his new sibling, but he will also have some apprehension.
Because he can’t fully express these feelings yet (or may not realize the entirety of his emotions), his behavior may change, and he may even show signs of jealousy toward the new baby.
As parents of toddlers, we all know that flexibility is not their strong suit, and sharing is still a learning process for them.
Despite it, I know one thing for sure. You are most thrilled to meet your new little bundle of joy and can’t wait to wrap your arms around him!
It will be harder for your toddler at first. Jealousy will even be an issue as well. Don’t worry! This is entirely normal and with your tender loving care, he will learn to accept everything. He may even fully take on the older brother role enthusiastically before long!
With that said, there are active steps you can carry out to help ease the transition a bit. I did all of these things myself, and they definitely helped!
Here are five of the best things you can do to help your toddler adjust to a new brother or sister.
1. Start Fostering the Connection Before the Baby Is Even Born
From day one, you must share all information with your toddler about his baby sibling and how important his new role as big brother will be.
As your belly grows, set intentional time each day for him to bond with the new baby.
Promote bond between siblings even before baby arrives through doing these things:
- Let your toddler feel your tummy.
- Let him talk to the baby.
- Let him sing a song to the baby.
- Frame the ultrasound picture for your toddler to keep in his room.
- Take him to the store to buy his baby sibling’s gears.
- Have him help pick out baby outfits.
- Let him help decorate the nursery.
The main goal of these exercises is to help your toddler understand that the new baby is a part of the family. These small contributions will help him feel like he already has an essential role in the new baby’s life.
Help your toddler celebrate the joys of becoming a big sibling! These adorable board books will prepare them for a new baby and an expanding family.
2. Make the Baby’s “Birth” Day Special for Your Toddler
When it’s time for the new baby’s birth, your toddler will really start to feel the change in his life. Suddenly, mommy’s at the hospital and the baby isn’t in her belly anymore.
As family and friends gather around to show their excitement about your new addition, make sure that you dedicate quality time to ensuring that your toddler feels the excitement as well.
Make certain your toddler feels that you completely value his presence in the hospital as he welcomes the new baby.
Take memorable pictures of them together during this time. Plan to put one in a special frame for his room when you return home.
Think about giving your toddler a gift on his baby sibling’s day of birth as well. Tell him that the present is from the new baby and stress that you are so proud of him for becoming a big brother. Let him feel that it is a celebration.
You can even give him a few more special gifts when you get home as rewards or little tokens so when he sees the new baby getting something from all the visitors, he won’t feel so left in the background amongst all the attention his new sibling receives during their first few days in the world.
Here are a few gift ideas for your little kid:
- stuffed animals
- picture books
- new clothes
- new shoes
Related article about toddlers and babies: Fever in Babies and Toddlers Explained
3. Give Your Toddler a Helping Role
Even though your toddler is small, they can still “help” you with the new baby. Have them bring you a fresh diaper while you nurse the newborn or help hold the bottle while you feed.
As the baby starts to grow in those first few weeks, your toddler can help him or her with tummy time, pick out books or toys for the baby, sing the baby to sleep, or even help you with bathing the baby like washing baby’s legs with a soft cloth.
This shows your toddler that he is a valuable part of the family and that his contributions to the new baby’s routine are important.
Ensure that you always use words of encouragement and approval when they help out. For example, if your toddler brings a fresh diaper, you can say something like, “Thank you so much! I just couldn’t get up to get that myself. Now your baby sister can have a clean diaper.”
Toddlers thrive on positive reinforcement. The more you give them, the happier they will be with sharing their space with the new baby.
4. Keep Your Toddler’s Routine as Normal as Possible
Toddlers also tend to be creatures of habit, and any disruption in their life can cause tantrums or meltdowns.
A new baby is unquestionably a massive disruption in a toddler’s life. But if you try to keep his routine as normal as possible, you show him that the things you did with him before the baby came are still as important.
For instance, if your toddler has a regular bedtime routine, keep it that way as closely as possible. There will be times when the new baby starts to cry in the middle of your bedtime story or needs to be fed just as you sing your toddler to sleep, but if you can work to minimize the disruption, your toddler will thank you immensely.
I always tried to have my husband tend to the baby when I read to my older child before bedtime. This time was a special moment for us, and I knew that keeping it undisturbed showed him that the baby didn’t take preference over our special time together.
There will be days when this perfect idea of keeping your routine won’t work out. That’s totally okay!
Trust me, even your toddler will realize on their own the effort you’re making and will be grateful for it. Toddlers tend to give us much more grace than we realize they’re capable of giving.
5. Set Aside One-On-One Time with Your Toddler
This step aligns a bit with keeping your toddler’s routines, but also takes it a step further. Many moms seem overwhelmed when they try to set aside time to do this because the demands of having a newborn never seem to take a break.
However, it doesn’t have to be as hard as we often make it.
We don’t have to plan some big elaborate day out with our toddlers to show them our undivided attention. All they really care about is the uninterrupted time we give them.
Take advantage of the baby’s nap time. Instead of doing household chores, sit down with your toddler and give him some quality time. Build blocks, read picture books, or just cuddle each other.
You will see a big difference in your toddler’s overall attitude and that can make you feel all warm inside.
Certainly, it’s nice to have someone else watch the baby for a little bit so you can take your older child out for ice cream or to the park. Just know that it doesn’t always have to be the norm. Your toddler will adapt to however you choose to make the time and appreciate every second of it.
Remember, quality time is all they need and that’s the most important thing.
Related article about toddlers: How to Handle Toddler Tantrums: 5+ Tips to Restore the Peace
Final Thoughts about Getting Your Toddler Ready for a New Baby
It’s never easy to help a toddler adjust to life with a new baby. After all, from their perspective, it’s a complete change to their world.
However, if you dedicate some time to help smooth out the process, you’ll notice a favorable development. Those little creatures you love so much will soon love each other twice as much as you love them.
Hopefully, these transition ideas will help you feel better. The first few months after you bring your new baby home will be tougher than you think.
Do you have any tips or tricks on how to get your toddler ready for a new baby?
If so, drop them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you! And don’t forget to share this with your friends, Mama!