I’m so happy to be featuring a guest post this week by Meredith of Perfection Pending – a mom of three and recovering perfectionist who is sharing some practical tips for helping young kids adjust to a new baby. Perfect timing as I find myself with a toddler adjusting to a newborn brother! Read her post and share some comment love!
I distinctly remember when my older two kids (then almost 3 and 6) came to the hospital to meet their new baby brother. It was an exciting time for our little family. I watched in amazement as they quietly tiptoed up next to my hospital bed to get a peek at this baby that we had been talking about for months. Although my daughter desperately wanted a baby sister, she was obviously excited to get a 2nd brother.
As a mom, we’re always worried about how kids will adjust to having a new sibling around. It can be especially hard to divide your attention when the baby’s needs are so demanding all of the time. I can’t say that when I had either of my two boys that I made a conscious effort to do certain things to help them adjust. But, now that I have some hindsight, I realize that there were things that definitely helped them (and me) get used to the new family member quicker. And, I’m happy to report that 2 years after bringing my youngest home, we’re all pretty used to each other!
But, there are some things that I would recommend to families about to embark on the experience of bringing a new family member home. Whether it be your second child, or 5th, hopefully these tips can help your toddler, or younger kids, adjust to having a new baby around.
Ask for help.
This is the hardest thing to do, but I believe it’s the most important. If you take care of yourself by napping when possible, or asking for help from a neighbor or friend, you’re more likely to feel refreshed, and feel like you. When you feel less tired, you will be more able to help the older kids feel more loved. But, lets be honest, it’s hard to ask for help sometimes! But, even if it’s for 15 minutes so you can sit down with your oldest child and read them a story, then they will most likely feel loved, and be able to play independently afterward.
Get any big changes out of the way either way before the baby comes, or way after. I remember when I was pregnant with my 2nd, my daughter was 2 1/2. I wanted so badly for her to be potty trained and move out of her crib before the baby came. And, I’m happy to report, that we were successful with both of those things! But, with my 3rd, I tried to potty train my middle child right after the baby was born, and I didn’t have the patience for it, and neither did he! We waited until my youngest was 6 months old before we tried again, and then it was so much easier. A baby is a huge change in your toddler’s life, and he doesn’t need even more changes to go along with that!
Use your toddler as a helper. Your child needs time to bond with the baby if he is going to get over any bad feelings he might have. Ask your toddler to do simple things like bring you a diaper from the other room, or a burp cloth, or put the baby’s dirty clothes in the hamper. But, be careful not to use him too much! If he says he doesn’t want to, don’t push it, and wait until he volunteers to help again.
Praise, praise, praise! I remember when my baby was very young and I left him on the changing table (well before he could roll over) for a minute to go wash my hands. I came back and realized my toddler had grabbed the stool, and was standing up next to the baby “reading” him a book. It was such a sweet moment that I even took a picture! Make sure when you catch the toddler being sweet or kind to the new baby that you give him lots of praise! He will want to continue to do nice things for the baby if he feels proud of himself.
Schedule time with your toddler, but be patient with yourself. A newborn is so demanding of your time. You’re bound to feel like you are failing. But, try to remember that you only have two hands! If necessary, designate a time of day to be just focused on your toddler. Let the laundry sit there, and tell yourself the dishes can wait. If you schedule time to be with your toddler everyday, it will add to his routine, and make him feel loved during a time when there really isn’t a routine at all!
I’m no expert, but I’m happy to say that I can see that my kids, now 7, 5, and 2 truly love each other. There have been many times when they will say how happy that our youngest is in the family, or there will be spontaneous hugs between them that melt my heart. Sibling bonds can be tricky at first, but if you give your kids time to cultivate that love, and if you are patient with yourself in the process, the transition to having a new baby around will be so much easier! We’ve got the hugs to prove it.
Meredith is a mother of 3 that is all about trying to be “real” when it comes to motherhood after years of trying to fake perfection. But, it’s the hardest job she’s ever done! She loves writing to help other moms feel OK with exactly who they are. She has been featured several times on Blogher, and is published on Mamalode. She loves blogging about all the perfect and not so perfect moments on her blog, Perfection Pending.
Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.