How To Prepare Your Toddler For A New Baby
Little Yawn Collective - Apr 28, 2022
Congratulations! It is so exciting to welcome another little one to the nest. You probably feel a little more confident this time around now that you have experienced pregnancy, birth, and the early days of an infant.
You know what to expect and probably already have a good bit of all the baby needs on hand from your most recent pregnancy.
One area you may be new to is how to prepare your toddler for a new baby. Welcoming a new child is a big event for parents.
Welcoming a new sibling can be the biggest life-changing event in your toddler’s life. They will no longer be the only baby in the house and have your undivided attention. With preparations, your toddler will be thrilled at the promotion to big brother or big sister.
Depending on how old your child is will determine when in your pregnancy you can tell your toddler the good news. Very young children will likely not fully grasp that you are pregnant until your belly starts to grow.
Your older toddler may wonder why mom doesn’t want to go outside as much or if she is feeling a little more tired than usual. Older toddlers can be told that they will become a big brother or big sister pretty early in the pregnancy. They will recognize that mum is experiencing some changes, and being involved and in the know can help this process be a little easier.
There are many child-directed books that help to explain what it means to have a younger sibling. These books can be helpful to explain how the new baby will mainly sleep and eat for the first few months and won’t be quite ready for playtime.
If you have any friends or other family members with infants, arranging for a visit can be a great time to show your toddler how small the new baby is. This will help you and your toddler practice the positive ways they can interact with the new baby.
As mom’s belly gets bigger, talk about how your toddler was once in mom’s belly too. Your toddler will likely have many questions, and you can answer them in the way that you feel is best. You can also allow your toddler to feel mom’s belly when the baby is kicking, they will be sure to love feeling their sibling moving around.
As you get your home ready for another arrival of a little bundle, involve your toddler as much as possible. Talk with them about how you will need to set up a space for the new baby and give them simple jobs. They can stack diapers in baskets or put toys on a shelf.
If you were reusing anything from when your toddler was a baby, make it a point to tell your toddler that these items were once theirs and now the new baby is going to use them.
Encourage your toddler to draw or color pictures that can be hung in the new baby’s nursery. Your toddler will feel involved and that their contribution is valued and important – which it is!
Practice Makes Perfect
While pregnant, give your little one a baby doll that they can use as a stand-in for their little brother or sister. Show your baby how to hold gently, how to rock, and how you will change the baby doll’s diaper.
In the days leading up to your baby’s birth, you can show your toddler pictures of when you first had them and what they looked like as a newborn. You can tell your toddler stories of what they were like as a baby.
When it’s time for your new baby’s arrival, prepare your little one by explaining that you will be gone for a few days but will be back with their new little brother or sister. Luckily, you can easily video chat with your firstborn with today's technology.
The First Meet & Greet
The big day has arrived. If possible, allow your little one to be the first visitor at the hospital. As much as other family members may want to see this first meeting between siblings, it may be best to give big brother or sister some space so they can experience this moment privately.
Although you have prepped and prepped, your toddler may feel many big emotions and may not be sure how to process them when they come face to face with their younger sibling.
A nice way to keep things positive is to plan for a small gift exchange between the pair. Have a gift prepared for your older child “from” your younger child and a gift that your older child picked out for the new baby.
If your child is old enough, let them hold their new sibling and take all the photos! It will be a sweet moment that everyone can look back on.
New Baby’s Homecoming
Another sweet way for your older child to get involved after your baby is born is to ask them to pick out the baby’s coming home outfit. Your child will feel involved and will likely be excited at seeing the baby come home in the clothes they picked out.
When your baby comes home, have extra patience for your toddler. Now the new baby is coming into “their” territory, and your toddler may change their feelings about the new baby now that they are here.
Your toddler may want to be super involved and help with diaper changes and feedings, or they may avoid the new baby for the first couple of days at home.
Schedule one-on-one time with your toddler while the baby is sleeping or in the care of another person. Do some of your toddler’s favorite things, like going to the park or getting ice cream.
Spending this time with your toddler can help reinforce that although they have a new sibling, there is still time for love and attention.
Encourage A Big Helper
With your new baby taking up a large part of your attention, your toddler can be a big helper and show off their “sibling duties.” You can ask your toddler to get the baby a blanket or help out during bath time. Your toddler will feel important and involved in the care of the baby, and you’ll be able to praise them for what a great big brother or big sister they are.
If you are bottle-feeding, and your child is old enough, you can offer them to hold the baby’s bottle. If you are breastfeeding, your toddler can fetch burp cloth or a pillow. Involving your toddler in as much as possible is a great way to ensure that your children are bonding, and you can praise and positive reinforcement to your toddler.
Be The Biggest Cheerleader
Being your toddler’s biggest cheerleader will give them the ego boost they need to continue to want to be a helper and the best older sibling. Brag about your toddler within earshot, so your toddler can feel that praise and know that you are proud of them.
When visitors come to see your newest addition, you may want to have a few gifts hidden away if the visitors come bearing gifts for your baby. You can bring out the small tokens for your toddler so that they do not feel left out or jealous when they do not receive a new gift.
You can also use a visitor as an opportunity to ask your toddler to help out with any baby needs. This will keep your toddler involved.
Be sure to involve them in the conversation if your visitor begins asking about the baby, also adding in about how your toddler has done such a great job at making sure the new baby was tucked in or how your toddler helped pick out their clothes for today.
What If My Toddler Starts to Act Out?
If your toddler starts to exhibit behaviors they haven’t previously, it may be their way of adjusting to having to share your attention with the new baby. This is completely normal for toddlers. They see the baby getting attention for certain behaviors and may try to mimic them in their own way to get the same amount of attention.
They may want to drink out of a bottle again, or show some regression if you were in the middle of potty training. This is normal, and praise from you when your toddler acts more grown-up will help positively reinforce the behaviors you want them to exhibit.
If your toddler has been very involved with their new sibling, you can involve them in your new baby’s nighttime routine by allowing them to help you rock the baby and give a sweet goodnight cuddle. Your toddler gets the joy of helping out, and then they feel special because they can have your undivided attention.
One area where your toddler can count on some quality time is right before bedtime. Your little buddy will love spending time with you and know that they have a little one-on-one time before they go to sleep.
Toddler Bedtime Routine
When it comes to your toddler, their bedtime routine may be a little different than with your newest addition. Of course, some things may need to change depending on the new baby’s schedule, but try to keep the same schedule as possible.
You can help your toddler wind down for the day with a relaxing bath. Little Yawn Collective’s Soothing Shampoo & Body Wash with Calendula is just the thing to add to your little one’s bath to get them squeaky clean, and relaxed.
After their bath and before comfy pajamas, moisturize your toddler’s skin with our Nourishing Body Lotion with Oat & Shea Butter. This dreamy lotion is gently on your little one’s skin and is infused with our signature NaturalSnooze fragrance. Feature scents like lavender, bergamot, and cedarwood to help create an environment that allows your little one to fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night.
After pajamas, cuddle up with your little one and a bedtime story. Your toddler will love spending this time with you as you read to them. Before one last goodnight hug, spritz the Relaxing Pillow & Linen Spray on your toddler’s pillow to lull them into dreamland.
As your newborn gets a little older, you can also incorporate Little Yawn Collective’s products into their bedtime routine. We offer melatonin-free sleep solutions that help you and your children rest easy.
Bringing a new baby into the home is a life-changing event for your little one. They will no longer be the baby of the house or have your undivided attention. However, they have gained a new role as a big brother or big sister and a lifelong friend.
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