The transition from baby of the family to big sibling can be quite the ordeal for a toddler or preschooler. While there are plenty of ways that a preschooler can help with the new baby, sometimes they need a bit of extra support and intentional direction to ease them into their new role as big sibling.
1. Expect some crazy – Even the very best of transitions are difficult, especially for kiddos who have yet to experience any of life’s big changes. Keeping that in mind, expect a little bit of crazy. Life is hectic with little kids, the “more the merrier” as they say, but more kids also means a bit more chaos. Expect this and embrace it. It’s only a season of life and as the days and weeks go on both kids will adjust to their new normals and find comfort in them. Just hold on tight as every body adjusts!
2. Who is the baby? – I’m a firm believer in keeping the transitions to a minimum. This means no negative talk about the baby and not allowing people to say things to my toddler like “you won’t be mommy’s baby anymore” or “you have to be a big kid now”. All of my children will forever and always be my babies, I don’t want any thoughts entering my toddler’s mind of the new baby replacing him. When people would make these “jokes” I would always pull my son aside and comfort him that he is my baby too and my big boy. Reminding him that nothing was changing in our relationship just because there would be another baby around. Some days he would demand to be called the “big boy” while other times he needed the reassurance that he was still my baby. I tried to follow his lead and comfort him in whichever way he needed at the time, ensuring that he would hold no worries of being replaced by the newbie in our home.
3. One on One – Look for ways throughout your day to spend some one on one time with your older child. I noticed that my (almost) two year old would start acting up and tantrum-ing far more than usual whenever he hadn’t gotten any special time with me throughout the day. Even just ten minutes first thing in the morning or special mommy/toddler time while baby naps. These stolen moments in time do wonders for the behavior of your older child and help him realize that he is still important to you too! Kids translate playtime as love so making time for that in the midst of sleepless nights and restless days helps drastically!
4. Regression – That dreaded word in the world of toddler behavior. I’ll be honest though, this is normal. Expect some regression from your older child and a revisiting of tired habits you thought were long gone. Be it a return to tantrums or a need to re-potty train something will happen and this is totally normal. It doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong, it is merely a sign that your little one is adjusting. I wish I had some magic formula to make this part easy, but it’s really just something to be endured. To buckle-up and get through. Knowing it is coming sometimes helps and realizing that there is an end in sight. If you worked through it once with your kiddo, you can certainly do it one more time, because you are awesome like that!
5. You are great – Not a tip, just a reminder! You are an awesome mom. An infant simultaneously screaming with the big sibling doesn’t change that. Being cranky when your toddler wakes up at 6am after you’ve been up all night with the newborn...this doesn’t make you a bad mom either. Motherhood is going to be hard and it’s going to be awesome. This is true whether you are cuddling your first baby or your last in a long line of babies. You are loving your kids in the best ways you know how, and you will rock this whole motherhood thing. If today wasn’t easy, that’s totally okay. Try again tomorrow and remember that it does get easier. Newborns aren’t sleepless forever and toddlers turn into children with manners and the ability to do things for themselves. This season may be rough, but there is beauty there too, find it and hold on mama! You got this!
If you have recently welcomed a new baby into your family, or have a new little one on the way be sure to check out When Baby Becomes Big Sibling. It’s a book I wrote on the topic and it helps families to thrive through the transitions that come when adding a new baby to the family. From practical tips to real-life stories it is a book that you’ll want to have in your diaper bag or on your nightstand for encouragement throughout the day or during those middle-of-the-night feedings!
You can grab it in ebook format or paperback so it’s perfect regardless of your reading preference! Works great as a baby-shower gift for your friends who are expecting a new baby too!
If you are looking for ways to keep the big kid quiet while baby sleeps, check out these 16 nap time activities or read 8 more ways to help your toddler adjust to the new baby.