Helping Your Toddler Adjust to Your Newborn

Toddler Hugging his Newborn Baby Sister

My son was almost two years old and still in diapers when I gave birth to my daughter. I thought I had the routine down after two years of parenting. However, I quickly realized that my life was about to become a juggling act. One minute I was changing not one, but two diapers, dealing with the big emotions of my toddler, constantly nursing, all the while feeling exhausted and drained from the lack of sleep. Being outnumbered by two tiny humans who relied on me for every little thing they needed to be content and happy was challenging.

I was anxious about my son adjusting to having a little baby sister with whom he was competing for attention from everyone. I didn’t want him to feel left out, not loved, and not feel special anymore. 

How can I make my day-to-day life more manageable with two kids?

The answer came when I was gifted the support of a postpartum doula who came to my home a few days a week. Her help was a saving grace. I no longer felt alone in this new chapter of motherhood that I was in. She helped me adjust and gave me the confidence I needed to keep both kids happy, comforted, and entertained. My postpartum doula taught me a few tips, and some I found or came up with on my own. These ideas made a big difference in caring for my toddler and newborn at the same time.

Talk about the attention you’ll need to give your newborn baby. 

I explained to my son that when our baby comes out of my tummy, I will be holding her much of the time. I let him know that newborns sleep and nurse all day long and that she will be in my arms a lot. This article from Dr. Sears gives more info about foreshadowing your newborn’s arrival.

Involve your toddler in birth celebrations.

Let big brother or sister help with planning a birthday party, picking out a cake and decorations. A special gift was presented to my son from our baby. This helped him to feel like the newborn wasn’t the only special one that was receiving gifts and new things.

Create a space just for your toddler.

I set up a space for my son to play, filling it with his favorite toys. I found child-friendly shelves and bins that helped keep this area organized and tidy. Blocks, art supplies, puzzles, play food, along with a small table and chairs, made this area special just for him. It worked and really helped keep him entertained. 

Pack a busy bag to take with you when you leave the house.

Since I only have two hands, and one was holding a newborn, my doula suggested that I pack a busy bag to bring with us when we were on the go. This child-size backpack (easy for him to carry) was filled with simple toys, easy craft supplies, healthy snacks, and games that kept his hands busy and focused on having fun. I found Dollar Tree to be an inexpensive resource to stock up on these supplies. In addition, a stuffed animal, his favorite books, felt art supplies, crayons with paper, and a coloring book were essential.  

Break out that Halloween costume that was only used once.

While dusting the house, I gave my toddler a cloth and told him to help me clean while in character. This brought joy and laughter while doing the mundane. Sometimes I’d join him in character, making him feel like the superhero that he is. These simple moments are some of our most memorable. 

Wear your baby in a carrier.

Wearing my baby kept my hands-free so I could tackle my daily tasks and still give hugs to my toddler. With my daughter in the sling or wrap, I was able to go shopping, visit friends and more. The baby was close to me and I could keep up with the demands of my rambunctious two-year-old. 

Today, my kids are teenagers and best friends. Watching them grow up together has been a joyous time in my life. But, trust me, I’ve had many tough days and meltdowns, and while there were trying times, those days did not last forever. The silly and happy memories shine the brightest. 

By: Donna Foute

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About Christie Collbran

Christie believes in helping women recognize their own inner wisdom, strength and power. Having served as President of the Tampa Bay Birth Network for six years and with ten years serving families as a birth doula, she has a reputation for leadership, dedication and compassion. A childbirth educator, certified lactation counselor as well as a certified doula, she makes a point of ensuring mothers and their partners understand all their birthing options and what to expect on their journey.> keep reading