Preparing Your Toddler For A New Sibling

Balancing the needs of two tots is a whole new challenge.  Try these tips to ease your toddler’s transition through this big life change.

Toddler welcoming new baby

When I found out I was pregnant with our second baby, I was beyond excited, but also a little scared.  A little bit scared of the sleep deprivation, but mostly of how a new baby would change my relationship with my two-year-old.

A few months in, we still face some challenges with helping our toddler adjust, but these strategies have been so helpful in making our day-to-day routine run smoothly. Here are 8 tips to help your toddler adjust to a new sibling.


1. Practice safety rules, before baby is born


This is one I learned the hard way.

If your baby isn’t born yet, try thinking about any rules you’d like in place to ensure your baby’s safety around your exuberant toddler, and implement them ahead of time.

This might include:

  • No running inside the house,
  • Not wearing shoes inside
  • Packing away small toys and objects on a high shelf when they’re not being used

If your new tiny tot has already arrived, sit down with your toddler and ask him to help you brainstorm some rules to keep everyone safe.  Write them down and let him help decorate the new list before posting it somewhere visible.


2. Provide easy-access snacks


Almost every time I feed our baby, my toddler begins exclaiming he’s starving.  

Have a spot in the kitchen on a low shelf or even in the refrigerator if your toddler can open it, with a snack he can serve himself.

This might simply be a small container of cereal or some sliced fruit.

It doesn’t need to be a full gourmet snack with all of the food groups, just enough to get your toddler through until you can help him.


3. Practice dressing


The more your toddler can help with getting himself dressed, the easier it will be to get out of the house.

Showing your toddler how to put on his own shoes and socks is particularly helpful, so that he can do this while you are getting the baby ready.

Practice at low stress times and make sure your child has shoes that are easy to put on i.e. No shoe laces! 


4. Encourage independent toileting


If your older child is potty trained, make sure he can do the whole process with as little help as possible for the inevitable times when he needs to go and you cannot help him.

Equip his bathroom with a sturdy step stool, clean underwear, a small laundry basket for any wet clothes, and an easy-to-use soap dispenser to wash hands.


5. Find a routine for feeding baby


Newborns need to eat so often, it’s helpful to have a routine for what your toddler does during this time.  

You might try a basket of books or toys that only comes out when you feed the baby or you might try feeding her in your older tot’s room so that he can play nearby and still feel included.

Experiment and find a routine that works for you.


6. Let your older child help


There are so many little ways your toddler can help care for the baby, if he wants to. The most important thing is to make him feel needed and included. 

  • Ask him to bring you a diaper
  • Let him choose the baby’s outfit for the day
  • Show him how to help burp the baby
  • Invite him to sing baby a bedtime song with you.


7. Ask the baby to wait, too


You will likely find yourself asking your toddler to wait more than ever before.

Try asking your baby to wait too to draw your toddler’s attention to the fact that it’s a two-way street. 

Your baby may need to wait to eat while you make your toddler’s lunch. She may need to wait for you to hold her while you help your toddler with a bandaid.  

It’s a constant balancing act, and asking your baby to wait out loud can help your toddler see that.


8. Provide one-on-one time during baby’s nap


When we first brought home our baby girl, I made the mistake of trying to get things done during her morning naps.

While it drives me a little bit crazy to have dishes in the sink or laundry that needs to be folded, I now almost always use this time to play with my toddler.

I know that this has been a challenging time for him and I want to make sure we still have time to really connect every day.

We usually spend this time outside and I find that he combination of running around to get some energy out and connecting one-on-one make for a much better day, even if the house is a little bit messier.



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