Are you expecting a baby and wondering how your toddler will react to splitting Mom and Dad’s time? Here’s a quick guide on how to bring home baby to a toddler so your family can live happily.
Worrying over something like this is a legit concern,. However, after you’ve gone through it and realize how easy this process is, then you’ll never worry about it again even if you experience another pregnancy. My first two are just fifteen months apart, then fourteen months later another one came into the mix. We had absolutely no problem what-so-ever with sibling rivalry or sad kids.
You Can Love More Than One Child.
The first thing you need to know is that you absolutely have it in you to love more than one child. I never realized this was a top concern for some parents, because I never questioned my parents’ love for me and my siblings. Yes we teased about who was the favorite, but we never felt less loved.
It was brought to my attention while in the hospital after our second child was born and a relative straight up asked me how I was going to love the new baby as much as the first one. I’ll admit, it made me angry because I felt someone was trying to steal my joy, but little by little I heard some of my friends questioning the same.
I won’t begin to teach this skill, because it isn’t a skill, and it will most likely come naturally. If it doesn’t then let me know and I’ll be glad to help!
Teach Your Toddler Patience
So now, after you’ve realized your love is greater than you knew, we need to show our toddler. How does your toddler know you love them the same as the new baby? Aren’t you holding that baby more? Is that baby coming first because of his/her needs? Yes, and that’s okay.
You are teaching you toddler delayed gratification, or patience. There is an art to this, and so don’t think I’m going to suggest shoving your toddler aside. That’s an absolute NO! Instead, you’ll encourage your toddler to be apart of what you’re doing.
Let’s give an example…
Little Johnny wants you to come play trucks with him while you’re in the middle of feeding the baby. At this time, in the very beginning of baby’s presence, I suggest not saying the word, “No”. Kids tend to react to N”o”, before they hear why you’re saying “No”. Instead, encourage your toddler to notice what you’re doing, tell them how you can’t wait to be finished to go play!
Words to Use In Place of “No”
- Yes, in a little bit, I will do that.
- We will have to wait a few more minutes.
- We can have a snack after we’re done playing.
It’s important to encourage your toddler to notice what you’re doing, and let them be apart of it when they can. Often, when I’m feeding the baby, I’ll allow my toddler to sit in my lap. If I’m using the bottle, the he/she can help me hold it. You can ask your toddler to bring your baby a burp cloth, or a diaper, or a toy.
Talking to your toddler about what is going on is a great learning experience for him/her. When changing a diaper talk out loud about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. “Oh no! Baby Suzie’s diaper is messy. She doesn’t want that on her bottom, let’s wipe it off. Did we get it all? Okay, it’s time to put on a fresh diaper. What color is the diaper? She’s already now! We did a great job, we’re a good team.”
Basically, you’re creating quality time with your toddler while you’re handling the newborn chores.
Let Your Toddler Play With the New Baby
This is very important because your kiddo needs to see this new baby as a potential playmate. I know you worry about germs and your toddler being too rough with the baby, but set those worries aside for a time. If your toddler is coughing, sniffling, or worse, then of course be worried about germs. If not, we like to encourage the big kid to play with baby’s feet! You need to teach your child to be soft and know how to play with an infant so small.
That means not yelling and overreacting when your toddler squeezes baby too tightly. Why? Because you risk your toddler seeing your reaction to that as your reaction to him/her touching the baby. Block your toddler from hurting the baby, and tell them calmly why he/she shouldn’t do that again. Then have your toddler try again by physically taking their hand and being soft with the baby.
If your newborn has cried because of your toddler’s actions, then stick to teaching your toddler first, but quickly, before scooping up the baby.
Make the Baby Play with Your Toddler
Sound silly? Maybe a little, but when there’s an opportunity, like if you’re all snuggled together, take baby’s hand and “tickle/get” your toddler. Sometimes, usually when baby is older than a month, I will pretend our baby is chasing the toddler by running (I mean be safe) around the room with the baby facing outward. We even make the baby look like he/she is singing and dancing along to a song.
The point is to make positive interactions between you, your toddler, and the baby. You’re all playing together, and when that happens there’s no doubt in your kiddo’s mind that life will be okay
Put the Baby Down
All the above advice is well and good, but will not be as effective if you don’t put the baby down and go play with your toddler. Your toddler still needs some time with you without everyone else around. Sometimes you just need 10-20 minutes, but I’ll bet you have more time than that. I do this now with each kid we have, because even though our newborn isn’t here yet, they’re all still looking for me to SEE them and only them!
Give your child uninterrupted time with you. If the baby begins to wail, then tend to him/her and then start your 10-20 minutes all over again. If your baby is just talking or getting a tad fussy, my opinion is to let him/her be for just a moment longer. It will mean a lot to your big kid if they know the baby is calling for you but you’re still paying attention to them. Just as your toddler has to wait occasionally even though he/she wants you.
Put On Your Happy Face
These times of adjustment can be very difficult, and I’ve sadly taken my overwhelming and anxious mood to a place I never want to go again. Often, I even lashed out at my toddler for being a toddler (still struggle with that by the way). Do your best to smile and be happy through the chaos. This is the best time to “fake it until you make it” and there’s a reason. Your toddler may see you’ve changed since this newborn came into the family and toddler’s can become very protective of their Mom’s and Dad’s. He/She will blame that baby for any new lifestyle change including Mom being a jerk.
So fake smile, until it becomes real, because life is stupendous. Bringing home baby isn’t a piece of cake, but with the right perspective you can learn to enjoy even the hardships.