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How to Prep Your Toddler for a New Baby Sibling
Bringing Home Baby
No matter how you choose to add to your family, the strategies we share in this post are for you. If you’re fostering, adopting, or any way a child comes into your life, simply adjust the scenarios and scripts to better reflect your circumstances. Also? Hi, you’re freaking amazing and we love you so much.
Bringing home a new baby is all fun, games, and new baby smell until your darling toddler walks over to baby sister, smacks her in the face and loudly says:
“I don’t like baby. Take baby back to hospital!
All done new baby, ALL DONE! ”
Oooooof! Talk about a gut-punch. Apparently, it’s not enough to bring a tiny human into the world. Nope—you also get to deal with a child who has obviously read some sort of brochure called, “How to Make Your Parents Feel Guilty in One Easy Step”.
Change challenges all of us, and that’s definitely true of toddlers. And change in the form of a sibling? This interloper you’re supposed to automatically love, even though it makes a lot of noise and suddenly gets allllllll the attention from mom and dad? (Or mom and mom, dad and dad, only mom, whatever YOUR beautiful family looks like.) Well, it’s no surprise your toddler is all “Thank you, next!” about the whole thing.
Struggling to adjust to a new sibling is normal, but it doesn’t have to be impossible—for you or your toddler.
You are a warrior parent, and with the right tools to help prep your toddler for life with a new baby, you *will* thrive - not just survive!
PREP your Toddler Before Baby Arrives
There are many ways to set up your toddler for new sibling success, and the best part is the full nine months you have to do it. Do not procrastinate, lovely parents. Remember: Your toddler’s brain likes to be in-the-know (something we talk about a lot in our course, Winning the Toddler Stage), so the more you prepare them, the less anxious they’ll feel when the baby shows up IRL.
Read All the Books
Reading books about becoming a big brother or sister is one of our favorite ways to PREP. (Check out your local public library or our Amazon store for suggestions on where to start). As you read together—over and over and over again—connect what you see in the book to what will happen IRL.
For example, if the book shows a mama with a baby in her belly, you can say:
“Look, she has a baby in her belly just like your mama does.”
When the big brother/sister in the book meets the baby for the first time, you can say:
“Oh, look. Daniel Tiger is going to the hospital to meet his little sister. You’re going to get to meet your little sister here at the house. Do you hear the baby crying? That’s loud!”
Keep Them in the Know
Remember how we said toddlers like to know all the deets? We weren’t kidding. They’re here for the 411 and then some, so break down experiences step-by-step. Talk about them often, and act out the various scenarios using toys and dolls:
Who will take care of them while you’re at the hospital Holding the baby for the first time What they’ll see and hear when the baby comes home Exactly how feeding baby, putting baby down will look Talk about allllll of it.
Repetition will make the unfamiliar—and boy is a new baby a whole lot of unfamiliar—more clear to them, and it’ll lower their anxiety about the unknown.
Introduce Your Toddler to Their New Baby Sibling
Seeing your toddler meet the new baby for the first time is sure to make your uterus lurch (in a good way), but the WAY your kiddos meet can make the difference between heart-melting and melting down.
Put the baby in a bassinet, swing, or carrier so your toddler isn’t introduced to their new sibling in your arms. Think about it: Up until this point, your toddler has had first dibs on your snuggles, so having the baby in a “neutral” zone helps your toddler feel less threatened by this new little person in their lives.
You can also foster pride in your toddler by having them exchange gifts with the new baby. Your toddler will love feeling important picking out a new gift for the baby and the gift itself becomes a unique point of connection between the two. Then, have “baby” gift something to the toddler.
Navigating Life with a Toddler and a Baby
Here’s where it gets really serious. The baby is no longer a TBD situation, but a living, breathing human living in your house.
Sh*t just got real—especially for your toddler.
But don’t worry, you wonderful, rock star, and (most likely verrrrry) exhausted parents. Our course, Winning the Toddler Stage, has a WHOLE section called New Baby. We teach you how to navigate anything that might come your way after the new baby arrives.
We know you want your toddler and the new baby the BEST relationship possible, so we’ve got you covered.
Get Winning the Toddler Stage
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