Managing a Toddler and a Newborn: Part One

This is Kim, Robin’s sister-in-law. I have three amazing daughters, one which was just born 4 days ago. In my 4.5 years of being a mom, I’ve read a fair amount about parenting and have gotten some really great (and some really terrible, uninvited, and/or borderline-criminal) advice along the way. I thought I’d share some of the highlights with you from time to time.

When my second daughter was born, my first was 22 months old. Like most moms adding another child to the family, I was concerned about how I would manage two little ones and how my first would react to a new baby joining our family. I sought out tons of advice and suggestions, and I’ve included the ones I found most helpful below. Now, as a caveat, I think these suggestions are great when the older sibling is a toddler. Some of them probably work no matter what the age, but obviously some will not apply if you have a preschooler or older, or if you’re having your kids super close together. So, try what makes sense to you, and disregard what won’t work - which, incidentally, is my approach to all parenting advice.

Before the baby is born:
Quick summary: Before the baby was born, we had two main objectives: We wanted to make sure that our first child 1) was aware she was getting a new sister and viewed it as a positive experience and 2) had already learned concepts like patience and independence.

Introducing the concept
We wanted our first child to understand that our lives were going to change, but to view this change positively. So, we made sure she was prepared, had some sense of exactly what would change, and knew that her role as big sister was important and appreciated. Here are some things we did:

* Once I started showing, we told my first about the baby coming. She didn’t really understand what we were talking about, but it was good to start getting the thought in her head and introduce her to the idea gradually.

* We talked about the new baby when it made sense, but not constantly. A toddler’s concept of time is different than ours, so spending so much time talking about something that’s not happening for months would most likely have bored, annoyed, and confused her. However, if we saw a baby at the park, I would say, “Your baby sister is going to be small like that!” or “When your baby sister comes, Grandma is going to come visit! Won’t that be fun?” We always kept the conversation positive.

* We got some positive books about being a big sibling and read them every now and then. Our two favorite titles: My New Baby and I’m a Big Sister (also comes in Brother). I really like the first book because it doesn’t have any words. You can make up your own story about what it’s like to have a new baby, and more importantly, you can let your child narrate and get a sense of how they’re approaching becoming a big sibling. I enjoy both books because they are POSITIVE about the experience and don’t assume that the older child will have feelings of jealousy or anger. If that ends up happening after the baby is born, deal with it then. Don’t put the idea in the kid’s head before it’s even a problem!

* We encouraged my first to be a part of the preparations for the new baby. We let her “try out” the bouncy chair and sit in the crib. She picked which books would stay in her room and which would go into the bookcase for the new baby. This will helped foster the idea that being a big sib is an important and fun job, and reassured her that she was still very much a valued member of our family.

Tomorrow’s post will be the continuation of Kim’s journey of managing her toddler and newborn.

Click here for Managing a Toddler and a Newborn: Part Two