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Our Blog: November 20, 2012

New Baby? Tips To Help Your Toddler Adjust

how to introduce a new baby to big kid

Bringing home your first baby is spectacularly exciting, wonderful – and more than a little demanding. But baby No. 2 is a bigger challenge altogether, because your toddler is still a baby, too!

Helping your toddler – who has suddenly become the Big Kid – get used to this big new change will help everyone grow into their new roles.

How To Help Your Big Kid Adjust

Prepare. Read books about new babies, show your Big Kid how small the baby will be, and explain that she won’t be able to talk, crawl or play for a long time. Give a short description of how Baby will be fed, especially if you’re nursing.

Focus on your Big Kid.  Give him extra attention once the baby’s born, and make sure his schedule stays predictable. Have Baby “give” the Big Kid a cool little gift when she comes home.

Expect neediness — and regression in skills, like self-dressing or potty training. With a little extra TLC, this should fade with time.

Expect aggression. Toddler resentment of the baby is normal. Role-model how to use words instead of hands. And never – EVER – leave a toddler alone with a baby.

Commiserate. Show your Big Kid you understand his hurt feelings – about all the attention the baby gets, about the noise she makes, and the disruption at home.  More talking = less hitting.

Go on Big Kid dates. Nothing fancy – a weekly trip to the grocery store with Mom – without the baby — goes a long way. Arrange for special time with Dad, grandparents, cousins and friends, too.

Make a Big Kid’s Baby Book. This helps your Big Kid relate to the baby. Print a selection of photos from your Big Kid’s early days up until the present. Have him help cut, paste, and decorate.  Laminate it, and I promise he’ll look at it all the time!

Show your Big Kid how to shine. Make him your helper. Have him show the baby all the incredible things he can do – like walking, talking, jumping, helping, and eating “real” food. Help him be a hero in the baby’s eyes.

What tips have you found helpful when introducing your toddler to a new baby, sibling or cousin?

About the Author

Dr. Heather Wittenberg

Dr. Wittenberg is a psychologist specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers — and parents. She offers no-hype, practical parenting advice on her blog BabyShrink — rooted in science, and road tested in her own home as the mother of four young children. She has helped thousands of parents over the years and knows that the most common problems with young children — sleep, feeding, potty training and behavior — can be the most difficult ones to solve.