The time has come for you to bring home your brand-new baby and introduce them to your toddler. One of the most immediate challenges you will meet is how to help your toddler adjust to the new baby.
Are you ready for it?
As soon as you walk through the door, it’s game time! This is a BIG moment so as much as it would be nice to let things “just flow” naturally, you should have some sort of plan or mindset ahead of time.
Any type of transition especially for toddlers should be done so in manageable ways whenever possible. If you are looking for ideas on how to prepare your toddler BEFORE the baby arrives, then you should check out my post on that topic here.
I will be walking you through the introduction, acclamation, and how to achieve the “new normal” with helping your toddler adjust to a newborn.
Let’s do this!
How to introduce toddler to a new baby
I got this tip from a pediatrician: have someone else hold the baby while you greet your older child.
When I was at the hospital (3 days) it broke my heart to be away from our son (this was during the heart of the pandemic, so he wasn’t allowed to visit).
So here I thought that my son was just going to coming running to my arms…..nope!
He skipped me altogether and went straight to his new little sister. He was so curious about this little baby. Mom…….who???
I was expecting a different reaction, but this was totally great too. My point is that you will never be able to truly predict how your older child will react.
By having someone else holding the baby during the initial greeting will help keep jealousy at bay for a bit. Then you will be able to give 100% of your focus to your toddler.
Give your older child TONS of affection
Speaking of focus and attention, your older baby will need probably more affection than they normally do.
Their entire existence previously was that THEY were the baby. Only they got all the hugs/kisses/playtime. Now this tiny little thing is stealing the spotlight a bit; and now your toddler is no longer the baby of the family anymore.
How dare they!? 🙂
Even if it seems like your toddler is rejecting you, just keep reassuring them of your love. This is confusing for them and have conflicting emotions (you probably do too!).
My little guy for a while wanted to be held and rocked liked a little baby again and that is totally okay. Honestly, I loved it because I knew sooner or later, he was going to go back to his independent ways.
If your older toddler is giving you the cold shoulder, give them the space to feel whatever emotions they are experiencing. When they are ready, “baby” your toddler to pieces!
Make regular one on one times with your oldest child
This tip was so beneficial for my son as it was for me too. Before having our daughter, I was also a stay-at-home mom for our son. So, for us it was me and him all day, every day.
I was so in love with our daughter but grieved having less one on one time with our son. Around that time was when my son and I started doing a music class together. It was so nice to have that time once a week to get some much needed “mommy and me” time.
We were fortunate enough to be able to do Kindermusik together and both got so much out of it. To check if a class is offered near you, click here (not sponsored).
Classes not an option for you? No problem! Your toddler just needs time with YOU, not the activity.
There were many times that I would nurse our daughter, and then my husband stayed at home with her while I ran errands with our son.
Something simple as the carwash or the grocery store or playing with your toddler while the baby naps work wonders.
Make a busy box/bag for your toddler during breast/bottle feeding
I make this suggestion because this is something I regret not having set up beforehand. So much so, I made a “busy bag” for my friend’s older child when she had another baby.
As you know by now, the early days consist of lots of feeding the baby. Your young toddler may not even understand what you’re doing. To them it might look like you are loving on the baby and leaving them out in the cold.
To help combat this, have some special toy or bag full of quiet activities to keep them occupied. But only bring it around during feedings. This distraction will help your child adjust to this new routine of what they can do during feedings.
But in the long run, your toddler will still want to be involved. Keep some books nearby and have them hold it while you read to them. Sing nursery rhymes together.
Sensory bins are a great option too. If you need help coming up with ideas, check out my post on children’s activities planner here.
I usually don’t recommend screen time but if you use it at all or more than you normally do, give yourself grace. You’re running on very little sleep, hormones are going nuts, and everyone’s adjusting. This is a very short season.
Final thoughts: when in doubt-snack it out!
Let your child be involved with caring for the baby as much as possible
Toddlers LOVE to be little helpers. Let’s be real-when you have a toddler and a newborn, you need all the help you can get!
Ask your older child to grab a burp cloth, a diaper, or a pacifier. The point is to involve them in whatever is age appropriate to do. By having them take part of care you are helping to build their relationship with each other.
If you constantly tell your toddler to go play or that they can’t touch the baby, they may grow to resent their new sibling. My guess is that if you’re reading this, you won’t be doing that but just wanted to throw it out there!
Don’t force your toddler to “like” the new baby
This can be tough-I mean, why wouldn’t you love a sweet adorable little baby? You just want all of your babies to get along!
Your toddler does love the baby……but maybe they just don’t like them right now. So what do you do?
As long as your toddler isn’t physically acting out on the baby, let it be. If you truly have serious concerns about how your toddler is adjusting, definitely reach out to their pediatrician for some pointers.
Otherwise, you have to accept their feelings where they are at right now. This is a HUGE transition, and they are trying to process their new normal. If you force your toddler to give affection, say “I love you” and other things to the baby, it can breed resentment even more.
I know some parents will have the baby “give” gifts to their older siblings. I didn’t even sweat it for my then 15-month-old. But perhaps if you have older children, they most likely will appreciate the gesture.
My older child who was over the moon for his little sister instantly still can get in jealous bouts at times.
This is normal!
Give your child the emotional space to express those feelings in a healthy way and it should work itself out in time. Just keep giving your toddler one on one attention and lots of affection whenever possible.
Helping your toddler adjust to a new baby has lots of ups and downs, but it is all worth it. As a parent you are also learning how to divide your attention to two tiny human beings and that’s a lot! Give yourself and your kids lots of patience and kindness.
You can do this!
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In the meantime, let me know what stage of life your family is in. Expecting? Newborns? School Aged? Grandkids? Comment below!