Bringing a new baby to the family is such a sweet exciting moment, except for the part that you just gave birth, you are up every two hours and your toddler may or may not freak out at the thought of sharing your attention for the foreseeable future. Tantrums, potty training regressions, sleep regressions and rejecting new baby are a few of the things that could happen - but they won't, because you're reading this article and we have great tips for you 😊. Let's dig in!
Preparation is key - start preparing your toddler for the new baby a few months prior
The best way to talk about the new baby is by reading books at bedtime. Here a few of our favorites - all available at Amazon and most likely at your local library:
- I am a big brother - by Caroline Jayne Church
- Big Sisters are the best - by Fran Manushkin
- I'm a big sister - by Joanna Cole
While it is important to read these books in advance, to prepare for the baby's arrival, it is even more important to continue reading them once the baby is home.
Use a baby doll and accessories to make it fun
Introducing a baby doll, with a small stroller, crib and accessories is a great way to get your toddler excited to care for their upcoming baby. The most adorable present we got our toddler was a baby carrier, which she used alongside me whenever we went out for walks.
You can use play to teach your toddler how to use a gentle touch, how babies are fragile, and how to best help you. Some easy tasks can give your toddler a purpose and help her bond with the new baby. Some ideas are: bringing you a burp cloth, handing you a baby wipe, choosing a book to read.
Build 1:1 time with each of your children
Life is busy and as much as you will be in true survival mode the first few months, try to dedicate at least 20 minutes of 1:1 time to each of your older children. Have them choose what they want to do with their special time with you and set up expectations - and if needed a timer- to make it work.
Praise good behavior and highlight the benefits of being the "big kid"
The key to correct negative behavior effectively is to focus on praising the positives, rather than using all your time punishing the bad. It can be counterintuitive at first, but try to make a point to highlight things like "you are such a great big brother, helping your baby sister burp", or "thank you for being so quiet while your baby brother takes a nap".
Another great tip is to bring attention to the great advantages of being the big kid, as your older child is probably thinking it is much better to be a baby, as you'd get much more attention...
For toilet training regressions, go back to your method: if you used stickers, or prizes and books, go back to them and gently get your little one back on track. No shame, no punishments, but praising every step of the way.
Tantrums are definitely an issue that can arise. Here are 3 articles with strategies to overcome them:
For a sleep regression, the best thing you can do is to go back to a productive bedtime routine as much as you can. Try to move dinner a bit earlier if it has been happening later than usual, and follow it by a bath, toothbrushing, bedtime stories, and a quick snuggle. Keep it as "normal" as before as you can... understanding the limitations than a small nursing infant presents. Using visuals, like a toddler sleep clock, can help your toddler understand when is bedtime, getting the pressure off you being the one saying "no".
Easier said than done - try to take care of yourself a little bit. A more rested, calmer parent definitely makes a huge difference in how your toddler is reacting to the big change of introducing a new baby to your family.
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