Welcoming a new sibling is a life-changing event for a toddler, and it usually comes with its fair share of adjustment issues. My toddler turned 2 just before her twin baby sisters joined our family, and while we did our best to prepare her for what was to come, I’m sure it was still the shock of her life.
A few simple things can make the adjustment easier for everyone:
Talk about the Baby
Toddlers need time to adjust to new ideas. The more you talk about the baby before birth (or babies, in our case), the more your toddler is able to wrap her head around the idea of new siblings joining the family. Talk about the every day stuff. Tell your toddler what it will be like once the baby arrives. “When the baby is born, her car seat will go right here in the car. We’ll have to make sure we remember to bring baby blankets and diapers with us.”
The more you talk about the baby, the more concrete the concept will become for your toddler. When our twins arrived, my toddler was so used to hearing about the way things would be that the changes felt normal to her.
Give your Toddler Plenty of Attention
No matter how excited your toddler is to become a big sister (or big brother), it’s going to get old fast if she never gets any one-on-one attention once the babies arrive. You may want to consider having your arms free when your toddler arrives to meet her new siblings, so you are free to hold her as she adjust to the idea of a sibling. We purchased a few small toys for my toddler to distract her during the first few chaotic days with new babies in the house and make it an exciting time for her.
Jealousy is Normal
My toddler was so excited to meet her new sisters. The last thing we expected was for her to walk in and hit one of our newborn babies in the face, but that’s exactly what she did. Don’t dwell on any negative interactions. Move past it, and teach your toddler what kind of touches are okay. Making a big deal out of negative behaviors just draws attention to it, and then it is more likely to be repeated.
Give your Toddler Some Responsibility
Toddlers love to feel useful. Give your toddler a few simple tasks to do to help take care of the baby. My toddler loves to fetch diapers, hold a crying baby’s hand and bring me bottles of water while I’m nursing. It makes her feel needed and helped her adjust to her new role as a big sister.
Transitions always take time. Don’t expect everything to go smoothly right from the start. Take things day by day, and know that your toddler will adjust and your entire family will get used to their new normal.
What tips do you have for helping a toddler adjust to a new sibling?
Editor’s Note: Congratulations to Rachel and her family on her newest little additions!