There are so many challenges in raising toddlers but if you’re expecting another baby soon, you need to prepare your oldest to become a sibling. Toddlers need a lot of attention and they might notice how much the new baby needs you. It’s a great idea to start teaching them to be a bit more independent before the new arrival.
I was really worried when pregnant with my second baby that my toddler would be difficult or resent her new sister when she was born. Luckily, my toddler absolutely adores her baby sister and won’t stop showering her with kisses and affection!
Below I’ve outlined my top tips for preparing your toddler, so you can hopefully have as great an outcome as I did! Then I rounded up some awesome tips from other mum bloggers to really give you everything you need to prepare your toddler for the most important job in the world.
Before the birth
Before the baby comes, there are a number of ways you can let your toddler know about what will happen and keep them excited to meet the new baby.
Read stories about babies to them
Now and then read your toddler stories about babies. Let them know that they were once a baby as well. You can show them pictures of what they looked like when they were babies. Let them know there is a small baby coming and they will have the responsibility of looking out for them.
Let them know your family is growing
Involve your kids in helping you prepare for the coming of the new baby. When you’re preparing the nursery, let them choose what colours they think the baby will love.
Let them touch your belly to feel baby kicking
This will be a really mind blowing moment for them. Even though they might not get it at first, you can explain to them that the kick and bump is their new sibling growing inside you until they are strong enough to be outside themselves.
After the birth
There is so much going on after birth that you might not have the energy to give as much attention to your toddler as you would like. You could ask for help from other family members to make sure your toddler doesn’t feel left out.
It’s hard when you’re sleep deprived but even just 10 minutes of quality time with mum could make a huge difference to your toddler.
Gifts for the toddler as well
When your family and friends come to visit you at the hospital or at home after the baby is born, ask them to bring a small gift for your toddler as well. This will make them feel that they are still worthy of attention and there is no competition between them and the new baby.
Let them see and hold the baby
Don’t keep the baby away from them or be too overprotective. Show them how to hold the baby and keep congratulating them on being an older sibling. Let them help you out when dressing the baby and taking care of the baby.
Maintain a normal routine with your toddlers
Try as much as possible to maintain a normal routine with your toddler. It’s not easy but try to keep their sleeping hours the same and give them as much of the attention you used to as possible. Keep reassuring them that you love them just the same way.
Mummy blogger’s top tips!
Set Aside Time Every Day
Make sure to set aside time every day that is just for your first child. Try to avoid holding the baby during this time. Put the baby in a swing or give her to your partner. Don’t forget to put away your phone, too.
Depending on your first child’s age, you can read books, play a game, colour together, or do some other favourite activity.
Commit to 15 minutes a day of 1:1, focused activity – that’s it. Fifteen minutes is small enough to not feel overwhelming for you, and enough time for your older child to feel loved and important to you.
Contributed by June from The Experienced Mama
In preparing for a second baby, it’s essential to realize that the first baby will need time to adjust and will likely have a lot of big feelings, regardless of their age.
At some point, both siblings will even begin to rival, at various ages and for the littlest things. Sibling rivalry is real, and the best way to prepare for it is to be knowledgeable. There are several great books out there including Siblings Without Rivalry and Beyond Sibling Rivalry.
It would also be a great idea to read Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids to get an overall idea of how to prepare as a parent to this huge upcoming change.
Contributed by Diana from The Elusive Family- Worldwide Family Travel and Adventure
One of the biggest things that I always recommend for someone who is about to bring a second child into their family is to stock the freezer!
When you’re feeling an extra burst of energy, make a casserole or a freezable crockpot meal and throw it in to use for a later meal. You can even freeze dinner leftovers for single-serve options! Admittedly, I didn’t do this – or at least, not enough – and I regretted it every day!
Your firstborn needs to eat healthy, nutritious meals, as well as the rest of the family, and every new mama needs all the sustenance they can get! Planning ahead of time and stocking your freezer with easy to heat up options is a lifesaver. Your sanity will thank you for doing this!
Contributed by Kristyn from A Human In Training
Let Your Kids Help Out
Let your kid help out in taking care of your newborn so he or she feels included and learns responsibility as the big brother or sister. For example, let your kid get all the supplies ready when you need to change the newborn’s diaper
If you feel comfortable with it, you can even let your kid change the newborn’s diaper. When breastfeeding, your kid can help fetch the nursing pillow and maybe even get water and food for you.
My son’s favourite job was helping his little sister bathe. He loved using the washcloth to gently wipe down his sister and splashing the water and making her laugh. Getting your kid involved when taking care of the newborn will make your child feel special as he or she starts to bond with his or her younger sibling.
Contributed by Betty from Mombrite
When your family expands, it is completely natural for your older child to feel anxious about their position in the family, with a lot of fears around no longer being your number one priority. One way that can help ease some of their potential jealousy is by gifting your older child a present from their new baby sibling. This helps build a connection between the two straight away.
The sibling gift can be something small relating to their new position as a big brother or big sister, or simply something you know they will love. While much older siblings are likely aware the gift did not really come from the new baby, it will still give them a confidence boost during a time they may be feeling uneasy.
Contributed by Holly from Simplify Create Inspire
Special Toys Box
From my experience, one of my top tips for your second baby is to have a box of special toys for your first child that you can bring out when you breastfeed your new baby. This special box of toys will keep your first child happy and occupied whilst you breastfeed your baby, rather than your first child trying to compete for your attention whilst you are feeding baby number two.
This special box of toys worked a treat for me in occupying my two and a half year old twins when I was breastfeeding baby three. The twins even used to ask me when I was feeding the baby again so they could gain access to this special toy box.
Contributed by Ingrid from Fabulous and Fun Life
I often tell friends that the change from one kid to two doesn’t feel like double, but exponential!
To all the challenges you had before, add even less sleep and another little person’s needs grabbing your attention all the time. But then imagine what it must feel like for your first kid. Their entire world – the only way of existing they’ve known so far – has been turned upside down. Who is this intruder?!
That’s why I think it’s key to make sure they’re loved and valued just like before, and what better way to do that than by spending quality, one-on-one time with them – every single day. You can snuggle up on the couch and read or just wander about your backyard, even if it’s for 15 minutes. For even more impact, try a daily “special time”, which parenting expert Laura Markham calls a “vitamin” for happy kids.
Contributed by Olivia from Happy in the Hollow
My daughter was born just after my son’s 1st birthday. It helped that I’d developed a love for babywearing even before my second baby was born because tandem wearing (wearing two babies at once) helped me live my life. Or survive it. That’s much more accurate.
Newborns need to be worn on the front so that you can keep an eye on their position and breathing. So my one year old would always go on the back and my newborn on the front. In reality, I hardly went anywhere for a good 6+ months, so my tandem wearing happened more frequently when they were older. I was also able to do it for years because I wore them almost daily and had developed the fitness for it.
Since I always used soft structured carriers, I’d put on the waistbands of each carrier first. Typically, I would have to put the back child first because I couldn’t safely put him up with the baby strapped in the front (it’s also considered the best practice to put the back child on first, so you don’t harm the front baby). I usually lifted him “superman” style, which is grabbing him by the armpits and swinging him on my back and then strapping him in. Then, I would add the baby. Once he got older, I could put my front child on first and he’d climb on my back. This also helped when he wanted to get down and play.
Tandem babywearing was also such a great way for both kids to feel and be close to me when they needed it. It was a way I used to help them fall asleep (and it hasn’t prevented them from falling asleep on their own now that they are older). Babywearing made my life with babies and toddlers so much easier!
Contributed by Natalie from Blissmersion
Looking for any way possible to make your life easier once the next baby arrives? Check my articles on great appliances to save you time, like my stick vacuum reviews or even the best blender to make pureed baby food. If you’re worried about toilet training with a newborn around, we’ve got tips for that too!