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10 Tips to help your toddler adjust to having a newborn join the family

Congratulations! Your family is growing in numbers and it’s such an exciting time! You may be feeling apprehensive and concerned about how your toddler will cope with their lives being dramatically turned around. It’s also a time when many of us question if we can really do this and how could we possibly love another like our first? Let me reassure you - you CAN totally do this and handle your expanding family and your toddler will adjust!

Here are 10 tips to help your toddler adjust to having a newborn enter the family;

1) Newborns are thankfully pretty adaptable and portable in the early days. They love to be 'worn' which allows your hands to be free for your toddler. Try to work your day around your toddler (getting out to the park, playgrounds etc) rather than working around the newborn. Just bare in mind dealing with an overtired newborn and a toddler ain't easy so keep following the 45-60 minute awake window for your newborn and ensure those naps happen, even in the pram or front pack! Newborns can be flexible and don't need a set routine and structure just yet like our toddlers do. Keeping your toddler's usual routine and structure will help them feel secure and create a sense of certainty in this time of change.

2) Use white noise for both your baby and your toddler. Toddlers are noisy and loud and it's unfair to expect them to be quiet during the day when baby is sleeping. Chances are your newborn is used to their noises in utero but using white noise for newborns is a helpful tool around sleep and will block out the external noises of your toddler suddenly yelling, crying or slamming a door!

3) Depending on your toddler's level of comprehension, explain to them gently if they did happen to hear baby overnight, it's ok, mummy or daddy will handle it. Teach your toddler to roll over and find their comforter or soft toy and snuggle that back to sleep in. You can role play this out with them during the day. Give them lots of praise for going back to sleep so well. Using white noise in your toddler's room to block out your newborn's cries can be useful.

4) Get out of the house with your toddler and baby - even though it can feel like a mission. Exposure to sunlight is great for both newborns and toddlers. It will help your newborn discern the difference between night and day, it's good for your own mental health and your toddler needs to be kept active. Not to mention, it can make the day go faster than if you were home all day!

5) Avoid making big changes in the first few months before or after the baby's arrival. This is definitely not the time to move them to a big bed, decide to ditch their dummy, or even potty train your toddler! Wait until everyone has adjusted to this big change.

6) Involve your toddler by asking them to be your special helper. Can they pick out the baby's pjs, or fetch the nappy and give the baby a kiss before nap time. Empower your toddler and they'll feel like such a big kid helping put their little sibling to bed!

7) Ensure your toddler gets some 1:1 time with you doing something the baby can't do. If we look at things from your toddler's perspective, this little new thing that's come out of nowhere now gets all the attention and cuddles with you! Your toddler may start to think "if I do baby things, maybe I'll get more attention". This is where we can see a regression form. Show your toddler all the fun things you can do together that baby CAN'T do. You can play at the park with mummy, go on the swings, and eat ice cream together. Keep up the 1:1 time with your toddler, even if it's small chunks of 10 minutes throughout the day, giving them your undivided attention at times fills their tank right up!

8) A special box you pull out for your toddler when feeding your baby can be super helpful. Special toys, or new, exciting activities for your toddler that are only pulled out when the baby is feeding or when you are putting the baby down for a nap. Keep these toys special and engaging for when you really need them and create some excitement around them. Pinterest has some amazing ideas under "busy box" or "busy bags for toddlers".

9) Take note of how you are communicating with your toddler. It's hard and often they are so frustrating! But their feeling of jealousy when your attention is split is understandable. Do your best to focus as much of your attention on your toddler during their bedtime or naps. If your baby starts fussing, try saying something to your baby within earshot of your toddler like, “I know you’re getting hungry baby, but right now I’m reading to your big brother or getting him lunch. When we’re finished here then I'll feed you." This lets your toddler know that they are not only important to you but they are the priority at the moment!

10) Don't be afraid to ask for help! People who love you will genuinely want to help. Ask a friend to take the baby for a walk so you can have 1:1 time with your toddler. Take all offers of help, be it meals or grocery runs or laundry folding etc. Sometimes it can help to have specific ideas that you can delegate. Divide and conquer!

Give yourself some grace! This is a hard but special adjustment for you all. There is room in your heart for loving both your toddler and siblings and there is no greater parent for them than YOU! If you are struggling with your toddler’s sleep, I’d love to hear from you.

If you are unsure of ideal routines for your little one, our ultimate guide of routines is available to purchase below.

If you want more guidance around this season and have any concerns or questions, then please get in contact with me as I’d love to coach you through this.

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