BEFORE BABY ARRIVES
- Talk to the baby with your toddler. Throughout my pregnancy we talked to the baby with Evelyn to get her used to the idea that a baby was coming. She would say “goodnight” to the baby before bedtime and ask to kiss my tummy, as if she was kissing the baby directly. We encouraged this adorable interaction to begin her bond with her brother even before his arrival.
- Read sibling books to teach your toddler about being a brother or sister. Grandma bought Evie the “I’m a Big Sister” book for us to read to her at bedtime. It’s a really cute book that points out the differences between being a big sister versus a baby. She LOVES the part that says she can have ice cream, but the baby is too little. It really helped her learn all the things that makes her special by being the big sister.
- Reveal the nursery to your toddler.After I had setup the nursery, we went to Evie with excitement and asked her if she wanted to see her little brother’s new bedroom. She followed us and we revealed it to her, asking her if she thought her brother would like it and to tell us her favorite things about his room. She of course, loved the stuffed animals and figurines we had added to the decor (and we let her play with them). You can see Levi’s nursery reveal here.
- Have your toddler pick out a gift for the baby. We went shopping and Evelyn picked out a romper that had puppy ears and feet on it (puppies are her current obsession). We also made a project out of it and had fun wrapping it together. She loved gift wrapping so much that she went into her playroom and picked out a book that she wanted to wrap for her brother. She chose purple sparkly tissue paper to wrap it in, her favorite color to make it extra special.
(c/o PureCloth blankets)
AFTER BABY ARRIVES
- Have a gift from the baby at the hospital. Not only did Evelyn have a gift ready to give her brother, but we also had a gift to give to Evie at the hospital from the baby. We wanted to make her feel special too since we knew a lot of attention would be given to the baby during those first days.
- Let your toddler hold the baby. Evelyn asks to hold her brother at least once a day. I let her rather than saying no and hurting her feelings. I just make sure to hold him too while she’s doing it! The Boppy pillow also helps make sure the baby is supported.
- Baby your toddler when she needs it. Even though we are constantly telling Evie she’s such a big girl, sometimes she acts like a baby again to get the same attention as her brother. Rather than telling her she’s not a baby and making her upset,we play into it in a playful way. We hold and rock her and pretend she is a baby and it turns into a funny game that ends in laughter instead of a tantrum.
- Spend one on one time with your toddler.This is a bit harder to do when you have a nursing newborn, and I haven’t been able to do much of this one. But I do try to take advantage of the time when Levi’s sleeping to play with Evie or get her involved in cooking with me. I tell her it’s mommy and Evelyn time just to emphasize that she is special and important too. My husband also spends a lot of time with her since I’m usually nursing the baby.
- Have your toddler help you with the baby. We get Evie involved by having her hand us diapers or helping us give her baby brother a bath. It makes things take a little longer, but it’s worth building that bond between the two of them!
- Audibly tell your baby to wait their turn.You’ll find yourself constantly telling your toddler, “just a minute” or “hang on, I’m with the baby”. To make Evie feel like it’s not just her, we often tell the baby outloud, “you’re going to have to wait your turn Levi, I am helping your big sister first”. This just makes her feel soooo important! Obviously, it’s for her benefit since the baby doesn’t understand.
- Be patient. This will be hard. Even with all these tips and tricks, it’s still hard. Evelyn still acts out, and it’s okay. The other day, I asked her if she needed to go potty before I starting nursing Levi. She said, “no”. As soon as I sat down to nurse the baby, she screams, “Mommy, I’m going potty right now! I need you now!” Of course, this was just an antic to get attention and it can be VERY frustrating and overwhelming. I remind myself to be patient. I ask for help. I use the iPad and cartoons for a break a little more than I probably should. Just know you are not alone and that parents all over the world are experiencing the same thing!