For many parents, working out how they’ll go from one baby to two is a daunting prospect, and a common worry is how their toddler will react to the new baby.
We’ve split our ten top tips for a smooth transition into five things to do before baby arrives/at the hospital, and five things to do when you’re all at home together to help you navigate your way through.
Before baby arrives/at the hospital
1. It’s never too early to start planning – Do as much of your preparation in advance as you can, there are going to be a lot of changes happening and the more you can get your little one used to in advance the less they will ‘blame’ on the new baby. This also gives you more time for trial and error, if things don’t go to plan now it’s easier to fix them while they can still be your main focus.
2. Routine is key – Once you have your new routine then do your utmost to stick to it when baby arrives, this will help reassure your toddler that not everything is changing, they will still have classes and playdates and bedtime stories etc.
3. Lay the foundation for a positive relationship between your babies – Don’t forget to include your toddler in your pregnancy journey too. Although they might have a limited understanding of what is coming, remind them that you are bringing them a baby brother or sister to play with who will love them very much and who they can help to look after, to help build a positive image of what is to come.
4. Make sure the first meeting is mostly about them – If your toddler is visiting you in hospital this can be an unnerving place to be so make sure whoever is with them is someone they trust. You could ask your toddler to bring a card or gift for their new sibling, to give them a specific job to focus on, and a present for them in the new babies’ crib will help get them off on the right foot. When they arrive, make sure you aren’t holding the baby and are able to concentrate on them and what fun they’ve been having since you saw them last.
5. Set your expectations in advance – Let your toddler have lots of gentle contact with the baby if they want but don’t be disappointed if they don’t show much interest, there’s a lot for them to process and there will be plenty of time for them to bond at home. Take plenty of photos and explain when you’ll be home if you weren’t at home for the birth or when you’ll be up again if you were.
1. Distract them before things heat up – If your toddler begins to show signs of jealousy, particularly when you’re in the middle of something where baby seems to have your full attention like feeding or changing, head them off with a story or game to keep them occupied.
2. Make time for your toddler – Some jealousy is to be expected, especially if this is your second child, your toddler has had your undivided attention for their whole life and is suddenly being asked to share the most important person in the world to them. If you can make some time for just you and your toddler to be alone together it will do you both some good.
3. Wear your new baby in a baby carrier – This has the double benefit of allowing you to cuddle your newborn close while keeping your hands free to play with or look after your toddler. The Ergobaby Embrace is specially designed to keep newborns close, combining the softness of a baby wrap with the ergonomic comfort of a more structured carrier. This also has the added benefit of your toddler seeing that the new baby can be included in their activities without overshadowing them.
4. Try and remain calm – It’s often easier said than done but try and be patient with your toddler, particularly if they are acting out or behave in a regressive way e.g. asking for a bottle, wanting to be cuddled etc., asking for nappies or wetting themselves if they are toilet trained, this phase will pass so try not to let it rattle you. And remember a good cuddle can do wonders.
5. Give your toddler a clear role – Encourage your toddler to join in with tasks such as bottle feeds or nappy changing etc. Many children enjoy copying their parents and being involved will help them establish their big brother or sister role. They can even join in with babywearing, the Ergobaby Doll Carrier allows little ones to keep their favourite toy close just as baby is doing in their own carrier. And besides, what’s cuter than a toddler cuddling their favourite friend close?