Adding a newborn to the family when you have a toddler can be both marvelous and overwhelming. I remember sitting in awe of how sweet my almost two year old could be with his new brother, excited for the relationship they would share. At the same time, however, I was shocked at how big my toddler now seemed and even a bit sad.
I worried about what I had done to him; was this fair? Shouldn’t he still be the center of my attention? How would he cope with all the new challenges of having a sibling when he was still so little? And a host of other worries, but the exhaustion that comes with parenting two and then three very young children has allowed me to forget many of them.
I can safely say 10 years later those worries were needless. I love the bond my closely spaced kids share and the intensity of parenting in those early years doesn’t last forever.
5 Tips for Toddlers With New Siblings
Let your toddler hear you tell the baby that he or she has to wait while you are helping the toddler. So frequently they hear that they must wait while you attend the baby.
Get a baby doll small enough for your toddler to handle and help your toddler parent and explore their baby doll. There will be things your toddler wants to “help” with that are just beyond their ability or that you need to do yourself for sanity’s sake, and that’s ok. A doll can be the perfect redirection when your toddler wants to play or help with the baby in a way that makes you uncomfortable.
Stock your kitchen (or let someone else) with easy to grab snacks for the toddler. Having some pre-filled sippy cups and single servings foods such as granola bars, cheese sticks, crackers and the like will give you both some grace when you can’t get to making a meal in a timely fashion and you know that your toddler NEEDS to eat.
Go ahead watch a movie, if the only activity you can muster with your toddler is sitting on the couch together, don’t beat yourself up. Lean into the moment, watch a movie you can both enjoy. You can still make it a chance to connect by talking to your toddler about the movie and how much you enjoy their company.
Help your child burn off some of that toddler energy by teaching them some movement songs like The Hokey Pokey, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes,Itsy Bitsy spider, and Where is Thumbkin. Eventually you can rest on the couch with the baby and sing for them while they do the movements.
Remember, adding a new little one to your family is a big adjustment, it’s OK to meet your own needs when you finally set the baby down, whether you need a shower, a snack or 20 minutes to read a chapter of your book, what ever fills your cup. Sometimes you have to put your oxygen mask on first. You will be better able to help your toddler weather the slings and arrows of this new phase in life if you are not running on empty.
Helpful Books for Toddlers with New Siblings:
Little Miss, Big Sis – sweet story of a little girl becoming a big sister. The text is short, simple and rhyming, so it works well for young listeners.
The New Baby – Mercer Mayer’s familiarLittle Critter has a new baby sister and he gets to learn how he can help his mom and dad and what the baby will be like. Helps give kids realistic expectations of what it’s like to have a new baby in the family.
More resources for keeping your toddler busy when you have a new baby:
- Free 7 Day Toddler Activity Challenge – planned-for-you SIMPLE activities
- Indoor Energy Burning Toys for Active Kids
- 5 Tips for Toddler Play When You’ve Got Something Else To Do
- 5 Simple to set up Toddler Activities
What tips would you add for helping a toddler adjust to a new baby?