Many new things pop up when you find out your going to have a baby. The list seems never-ending to get everything done before baby arrives.
Since we already had Libby, I was prepared to survive my first week with a newborn. Changing the family dynamic from one child to two, was new territory. Especially, when the first child was still a toddler.
When we were working on our “family planning,” I always wanted to have kids close in age. Kids playing together and becoming best friends. Preparing for a second baby when you have a toddler is exciting AND requires work. Emotions are a lot bigger and a lot less logical.
Preparing a Toddler Before Baby Arrives
Staying home with Libby, had me worried she would have a hard time adjusting to a new baby. For her whole life all of my time was dedicated to her.
I wanted to prepare early. We started talking about siblings and reading books about becoming a sister. To help her transition, we got her involved in the process of preparing for a new baby.
Heres a few ways to get your toddler prepared for a new baby:
1. Talking about becoming a Sister or Brother
First, we spent a lot of time talking about becoming a sister. I used our dogs as an example. Explaining how they are “sisters.”
When we watched Frozen, I would explain how they were sisters.
I would say look, “they’re sisters just like your going to be.” This helped with teaching the concept.
2. Reading Books
Reading books like, I’m a Big Sister, was another way she was introduced to the idea of becoming a big sister. Books are great for communicating a story. It’s an easy idea to help transition. Here are a few more ideas for sibling books.
3. Preparing the Baby’s Room
Preparing the baby’s room was another way we got Libby involved and excited for her little sister.
It was a tangible way for her to see a new baby was coming. As your getting your baby’s room ready, don’t forget blackout curtains. They help with getting your baby to sleep better. We got these gold and white blackout curtains for Lainey’s room and I love them.
4. Pick out a new toy
I took Libby shopping to pick out a new toy for her little sister. She was super excited and picked out a spinning wheel. It gave her a sense of responsibility and helped teach her to share and think of her sister.
5. Work out your routines and be consistent
This is one thing that Libby had the hardest time transitioning from. I was at fault. We had her consistently going to bed, with ease, in her own crib. Then I gave in. That can happen when your tired and pregnant.
As I went through the waves of pregnancy, I started getting away from her schedule. When I was tired, I would nap with her. At night I would snuggle with her in bed.
Before I knew it, she transitioned to our bed at night. Breaking the habit was ROUGH. Transitioning her back to her crib seemed to take twice as long to instill new habits.
If you want your child sleeping in their own bed, it’s better to start early. It took us close to three weeks, at 2.5 years old.
For us the transition was a MUST. The few nights she was in bed with us, she would wake every time I fed the baby.
She was exhausted and her behavior reflected it. It would be 12AM and not only would I be feeding a new newborn baby, but I would be consoling a crying toddler.
Related Post: Getting a Toddler to Sleep at Bedtime
Preparing your Toddler Once the Baby is Born
Once the baby is born the real training begins. Don’t expect perfection, even if you have been “preparing.”
Talking to other moms, it seems pretty common to see regressions, and behavior changes. Every kid is going to react differently.
For a toddler, when possible, it’s good to avoid big life changes that create too much instability.
Libby had started potty training on her own, was transitioning back into her crib, and about two weeks earlier we got rid of her pacifier. It was too much for her. Her behavior drastically changed.
1. Teaching to be gentle
Since we have dogs, Libby was familiar with being nice. This is good to practice with a new baby.
I would also recommend keeping hard toys away from the baby. Even though their intention may not be malicious, it’s not uncommon to try and get a little bop on the head, or boop in the nose.
With that being said, I had a zero tolerance rule with any hitting, throwing, or aggressive play with the baby. It would lead to an immediate timeout.
2. Toddler proofing the house
I joked a lot that Libby was a “free range baby.” Since it was just her and I, we would roam around the house, exploring, tinkering, cleaning.
While I had some baby proofing measures in place, like outlet plugs, we really had to take it to the next level.
Toddlers will take opportunities to “do what they want” when you are occupied, feeding and caring for the baby.
If you didn’t putting edging around sharp corners and fireplaces, it’s good to do it as soon as you can.
We also had to put baby gates up around the house. We got these Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Gates. They were pretty inexpensive and do the trick. It’s nice to have the swing open gates. That way you are not stepping over baby gates with a newborn in hand.
3. Teaching interactions with the baby
Introducing you new baby is a huge adjustment for your toddler. Before, he or she got all of your time, now they have to share you. We had to spend lots of time teaching Libby how to interact with the new baby.
I also made it appoint to include her in the process of “taking care of sister.” In the morning when she woke up, I would be sure she told Lainey “hi.” After a few a months of doing this she would come down stairs and say, “where’s Laina?”
We also got her to engage with the baby by seeing if she could make her smile, and then eventually laugh. Talk about little gestures that make your heart explode.
Toddlers are bound to feel some jealously. I would make it a point to “tell” newborn, Lainey, that “it was time for her nap and I was going to feed, play, etc, with Libby.”
Saying this out loud helps the toddler understand that they get mommy time and that the new baby doesn’t get it all.
4. Establishing a new routine
Both Libby and Lainey have a certain flow to the day. While I don’t follow concrete, set times (yet) there is definitely a particular order to the day. For our family, this was the only thing that works. Establishing a routine means set expectations, and comforts for other children.
Since I fed Lainey every two-three hours, like clockwork, I would integrate Libby’s schedule around these feeding times.
Hands down, feeding the baby was when Libby was at her most insecure and mischievous behavior.
This could lead to tantrums or behaviors that would require me to stop feeding so I could get up and intervene (taking eggs out of the fridge, pushing chairs to climb and reach things she wasn’t suppose to have, opening the child locks to play with the spices, etc.)
It eventually passes, or gets less frequent, but it can be frustrating to say the least. To help make bonding with the baby easier, implementing busy time activities was/is a life saver.
Busy time activities for your Toddler when you are feeding your Baby
Before I would start feeding Lainey, I would get her set up doing something fun, I knew she would engage for a while. She got a kitchen set for her birthday, so I would pull her velcro fruit out, or hide things she had to search for, or grab toys out of her toys bins from our rotation system.
Keeping a little stockpile of new toys or crafts is a good idea. The Youtube Kids app is another way to engage kids. It’s pretty kid (user) friendly and all the videos are for kids. Most kids LOVE these videos. They can be pretty addicting, so I think screen time moderation is important.
Are there any kid friendly apps or toys your toddler loves that keeps them busyLeave a comment below