How to prepare your toddler for a new baby sibling
If you’ve read our story before, you probably learned that David was a bit of an oopsie baby. We found out we were pregnant with him about 6 months after Josh and I got married. However, after he came into our lives, we couldn’t imagine them without our little buddy.
And that’s really what he was to me: my little buddy. David and I did everything and went everywhere together. He was such an easy baby/toddler that doing things with him never felt too overwhelming and, despite the occasional, unavoidable meltdown, I felt like he and I were always pretty in sync.
Then, when David was almost 2, we decided to give it a go and try to have another baby. We were pretty convinced we’d get pregnant within 5 minutes of trying since we got pregnant with David so easily. Because of that, I remember having a conversation with Josh about when we should start trying and when it would make most sense to have another baby. While we were talking, I remember David playing contentedly while we talked and I remember thinking, “I can’t imagine only having one child, but at the same time, this is so perfect.”
I felt like we had a really good handle on the whole parenting routine. I felt like we were turning a corner with David where he was starting to become more independent and even helpful during the day. I also remember worrying about losing my special relationship with my little buddy knowing that, if we had another, my time would be divided between him and a sibling. But at the same time, I didn’t want him to be an only child and, like I said, I couldn’t imagine just having one.
So Josh and I agreed to start trying soon and a few months later we found out we were pregnant with Ev girl!
Besides feeling some anxiety over losing my special relationship with David, I was also worried about him feeling displaced once our daughter got here. Overall, when she got here, he reacted super well! He always said that he loved her and always wanted to hold her. That being said, we did notice a little regression in his behavior (whining more and saying “No” more) which could also just be attributed to the fact that he was a typical 2-year-old.
Here are some of the things we did to prepare David for Evy’s arrival:
1 | We talked about the baby in mommy’s tummy- a lot
We made sure David knew what’s up and that I hadn’t just overdone it with the french fries and cookies (although that was probably also true). We have him regular updates about the baby and let him know that it was “growing growing!”
2 | We made sure to talk about the hospital
Josh and I didn’t usually spend much time away from David at all so we made sure to prepare him for the fact that mommy was going to be at the hospital getting taken care of by the doctors for a few days when the baby came. “Just to make sure mommy and the baby are ok.” We made sure to always talk about it with a happy voice and in a positive way- like it was a trip to get excited about.
3 | We talked about what life would be like for David as a big brother
Randomly in conversation, Josh and I would insert things like, “It’s great how you play with your blocks like that, David. Maybe when the baby comes, you can teach her how to play with blocks.” To which he would casually respond, “Yeah.” I remember Josh also having short talks with David, saying things like, “Now, David, you know when the baby comes you’re going to have to be a big boy and help mommy by not whining” or something along those lines. We didn’t want to put too much pressure on him, but we did feel as though we could give him a small sense of responsibility without stressing him out.
4 | We got him excited for when family would come visit
Josh and I were always upfront about why family was coming (“Nana and Papa are going to come visit when baby Evy is born!”) but we made sure to get him excited about it. We also were open with our families and asked them to please remember David and give attention to him even with the excitement of a new baby.”
5 | Help them to “nest” with you
There’s a lot of prep that comes with having a baby, even if it’s not your first! Get your toddler excited about the presents that come in the mail or the shopping trips you have to make while preparing for little one. Let them even help you pick out some things for the new baby so they can feel involved in the process and get excited later when they see the baby using what they picked out. (I’d recommend steering them towards picking PampersPure diapers since they have 0% chlorine bleaching, fragrance or parabens and are made with cotton and soft, plant-based fibers, and other thoughtfully sourced materials – allll while doing the job they’re supposed to do! Not to mention the new prints are freaking adorable! Pampers Aqua Pure Wipes also pair perfectly because they’re made with 99% water and are free of alcohol, parabens, dyes and fragrance. Best of all, you can effortlessly grab them at Walmart while stocking up or they can easily be purchased online with free shipping after spending $35. Why not give them a go and try Pampers Pure on your baby?
How we helped our toddler after baby arrived:
1 | We gave our oldest a gift
Before Evy was born, I read (I forget where) about a family who had purchased a small gift for their toddler ahead of time and packed it in their hospital bag. After their baby was born and after the oldest had a chance to meet the baby, the family told their toddler that the baby had a gift for him. This immediately made the toddler feel a little more special and like the baby cared about him making the relationship a more positive one, in his mind, right off the bat.
2 | Even in the hospital, we gave David attention
As much as we possibly could, we brought David along the journey with us. We talked to him about what we were doing and asked him questions. When the baby would do something silly, we joked about it with David. He thought Evy was hilarious with all her grunts and weird bodily noises. We also let him hold her almost whenever he wanted. Although we really stressed how gentle he had to be and why, we didn’t want him to feel like Evy was untouchable.
3 | We took the time to explain and break down everything
I understand that not all toddlers are like this, but David has always been extremely sensitive and inquisitive. That being said, he usually tried to make sense of something if we tried to help him make sense of it. Why couldn’t he play like a crazy person right next to the baby? Because he might fall into her and that would hurt. Why couldn’t mommy play at the moment? Because she was feeding the baby and had to sit to do that. Sometimes these answers helped, sometimes David reacted like any 2 year old would, but I believe that more often than not, he understood what was going on when we took the time to explain and break it down rather than simply saying, “David, stop that!”
4 | We reminded him of the things he could do as a bigger brother that the baby couldn’t do yet
It’s easy for a toddler to feel jealous of a baby sibling given all the attention and the exclusivity to mommy they get. We made sure to remind him how great it was to be big. Big boys and girls could play at the park and go down the slide. They could have cake pops when mommy got her coffee at the coffee shop. Being a big brother was awesome!
5 | We made sure to watch our language
I’m not talking about 4 letter words here (although we watch those, too). All day long, toddlers hear a lot of “No’s”. As moms and dads we have to spend a lot of time protecting your baby from a toddler that doesn’t fully understand how fragile they are. Sometimes it can come across as though the toddler is the “bad” child and the baby is the “good” child since the toddler seemingly gets all the reprimands and the baby gets all the excuses. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times when we had to tell David, “She doesn’t know, David, she’s just a baby.” But other times (even if it didn’t mean a thing to Evy), I would gently pretend to reprimand her if she did something like hit David. I would say something along the lines of “Evy, don’t hit your brother like that, that hurts, David.” And then I would kiss it better for David. That usually seemed like enough justice for David (so far, at least).
Introducing a new baby into your life can be a nerve-wracking thing, with or without an older sibling to worry about. I think the biggest thing Josh and I always had to remember was to treat them as equally as possible while making both siblings feel special and loved.
Got your own tips to share? Leave them in the comments below!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Pampers Pure at Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.