It’s so exciting to bring a new baby home when you have another child waiting to meet him. But managing a newborn and a toddler is challenging for a new mama. Your toddler may feel jealous, displaced or lonely to see you loving on another child — feelings that may cause them to act out. Know that there are a few helpful adjustments you can make moving from one-on-one to zone parenting. And you can do it all successfully. Here are a few tips for bringing your new baby home from From One Child to Two: What to Expect, How to Cope and How to Enjoy Your Growing Family by Judy Dunn.
Managing a Newborn and a Toddler
Include Your Toddler
While you may be consumed by your pregnancy and preparing for your new baby’s arrival, remember to include your toddler. Feelings of being left out can arise quickly if Mama is preoccupied.
As you wait for the arrival of your infant, spend quality time with your young child, assuring her that she is your baby, too. Include your Little in the naming of the new baby, decorating your nursery, storing diapers and allowing your Little to talk to your belly, read stories together and more.
Answer Questions Thoroughly
As you get closer to your delivery and your belly grows very large, your Little will start wondering what to expect. They may have lots of questions. Be sure to explain how everything will go to your child if they ask questions and especially if they don’t. Explain who will take care of them while you’re at the hospital and who will get their dinner and read them bedtime stories, how long you’ll be gone, etc.
Introducing the Siblings
Allow your older child to come to the hospital to meet their new sibling. Have someone else hold the baby when your child comes in so you can give your toddler affection and then help with the introductions. Have a small gift like a “I’m a Big Sister” t-shirt to give to your older child or even a new, soft baby doll so your child has a baby like Mama’s.
Like in the hospital, the technique of asking someone else to hold the newborn when you arrive is a good one. You want to be available to get down on your little one’s level and give them a good hug and a some one-on-one time before tending to your newborn. Once you’re satisfied that your Little feels seen and heard, move on to your newborn.
Of course, understand that this is a big transition for your older child, so don’t try to do anything like potty training during this time or they won’t get the attention they need. In fact, avoid doing anything new to disrupt your older child’s life except for bringing the newborn into their world at this time.
When you have to provide so much extended time breastfeeding a newborn, your time will really be divided. Explain the process of breastfeeding. You can involve your toddler in getting your pillow or assisting with changing the diaper and trying to schedule some interesting activity for them during your breastfeeding times.
It is normal for a usurped older sibling to start regressing to gain attention. Thumb sucking, toilet accidents or nightmares may occur. Remember these are all temporary. Be empathetic but firm about rules. Keep telling your older child about the “big-child advantage.” They are older, so they can eat ice-cream, play in the park, etc.
Having another child is not about dividing the firstborn’s allotted love. It is about giving them more. Make no compromise on having time alone with your older child. It could be buying groceries, taking them to their favorite restaurant or watching a movie together. Make sure the baby is nowhere around during these precious moments. Encourage your child to share their feelings with you all the while.
Clearly stated, when someone offers help such as a playdate for your Little — say yes!