Bringing home a new baby can bring out so many different emotions – excitement, joy, nervousness, exhaustion, anxiety, etc. All of these feelings are completely NORMAL and while you may be feeling some of these things, there’s a good chance if you have other children, they are feeling many of these same emotions as well. Transitioning to being a big brother or sister is a big deal and some siblings handle it better or worse than others and that is OK. Keep reading below for my tips to make this adjustment as smooth as possible.
My toddler adjusting to the new baby
After bringing our second daughter, Margot, home from the hospital, Delaney (who just turned 3) was so excited to be a big sister. She was so helpful, patient and kind to Margot. Then fast forward 2 weeks later when all of the visitors left, the excitement went away and the “this is forever” feeling started to settle in.
I always thought the difficult part about having 2 children would be the exhaustion from the constant feedings and nighttime wakings but in my personal experience- it was the toddler emotions that had me an emotional mess and not sure how I was going to make it through. I was always comparing my older child to how some of my friends’ kids were adjusting to their older siblings and I just couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong?
That was my first mistake- never compare your children to anyone else’s children because they are all so individual and unique in the way they feel, act, process change, etc. If this is something you’re going through right now or preparing to go through sometime in the near future here are my best tips/advice for helping your older sibling transition after bringing the new baby home.
5 Tips for bringing home a new baby to older siblings:
1. Make time for the older sibling
Even if it’s just 10 minutes per day. This seems like such a short amount of time but it can make a huge difference in the way your toddler feels. Put your phone away, turn off the tv and eliminate all other distractions. Try to do this while the baby is napping or when someone else is available to watch them so you can have your full attention with your older child. Sit on the floor and simply play, read books, sing songs or just snuggle with your toddler.
Another great idea is to include your older child in simple errands you need to run outside of the house such as dropping off mail to the mail box or picking up groceries. I found that those 10 minutes or quick errands I would set aside for her for us to do together would make her feel so special and help reduce the amount of tantrums, outburst, or cries for attention.
2. Have your older child help with simple tasks
If your child is old enough, have them help with simple tasks to make them feel included, needed and helpful. This helps keep them busy but also makes them feel like they play an important role in caring for the baby. Simple tasks can include bringing you a diaper or wipes, singing to the baby, helping with tummy time, brushing the baby’s hair, helping with a sponge bath, or giving the baby a pacifier.
3. Make sure your older child knows that they are still a priority to you
Help your older child know that they are still a priority to you, even though the baby does require a lot of attention right now. Remember what a major adjustment this is! A great way of doing this is to make sure you’re not always putting the baby first before them. For example, saying things like “OK baby I will have to put you down for a second because your big sister needs me to get her a snack” or “hold on baby, I need to finish reading this book to your brother and then I’ll be right over to get you”.
4. Let them overhear you saying good things about them
This helps boost their confidence and lets them know how much you love them and how great you think they are! For example, if you’re on the phone with a friend/grandparent/relative, say things like “Delaney has been such a great helper today, she helped me change the baby’s diaper and she played with her toys so nicely while I was feeding the baby” Another example is commenting on how much fun you have with them: “Delaney and I had a dance party today while the baby was sleeping and it was SO much fun! I can’t wait to have our special alone time again with her tomorrow”
5. Give you, your partner and your older child some grace.
This is uncharted territory for all of you and there’s no right or wrong way to navigate this new time in your life. Having a new baby is a big change for all of you so do what feels right and is best for your family. If that means letting your child watch more tv than normal, play on the ipad longer, or eat popsicles for breakfast THEN DO IT!
Sometimes this stage of life is all about survival mode so if those things are what makes you, your toddler and family happy and makes things a little bit easier on you, then you should not feel guilty about it. This is such a short period of time in your child’s life and it can be tricky to navigate and adjust to having a new baby at home. Just know you are doing the best that you can and I promise as time goes on you will find a new rhythm and dynamic that is perfect for your family.
Cute present ideas for older siblings when bringing home baby:
- Ergobaby doll carrier – have your little one practice carrying his/her doll/stuffed animal when you’re carrying your new baby in a carrier
- Instapic camera – have older sibling take their own photos of your new baby!
- Matching cuddle + kind dolls – these cuddle + kind dolls come in a big and little size so your older sibling and the baby can have matching ones (made for boys too!) **for every doll purchased, 10 meals are provided to children in need.
- Matching jammies – we love these little sleepie jammies because they’re super soft, come in so many colors/prints and have a zipper! They have sizes for newborns through kids!
- I’m a big sister/I’m a big brother book – this little gift set comes with a stuffed animal and book for big sisters and brothers!
**Tip: Throwing a little “birthday party” for the new baby is also a fun idea. Have a cake ready and balloons so your older sibling can sing happy birthday to the new baby when you get home from the hospital!
Other helpful blog posts:
- How to prepare your toddler for bringing home your second baby
- 5 easy DIY projects to do with your toddler
- Kate’s 5 S’s of sleep – tips for successful infant sleep
- What I saved, tossed and stocked up on for baby #3
- Room sharing tips for babies and toddlers
**This post is educational and not meant to take the place of your provider. Bumblebaby makes a small commission on some of the items listed above.