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Keeping Your Toddler Happy When New Baby Arrives

Keeping Your Toddler Happy When New Baby Arrives

The Sleep Store asked:

How do you keep your toddler feeling special when a new baby comes along? Your first child is used to being the centre of your world, & a new baby can really rock them! Dr Harvey Karp describes it as being like your husband bringing home a second wife!! Share your tips & experiences :-)



Our Facebook community replied:


Bought home newborn a week ago, all has been well till yesterday.... Any tips for dealing with 20month old would be great! :)

We've not yet had a problem with sibling jealousy...maybe we've just been lucky so far, or maybe it's the age differences (18 and 21 months for the first two gaps. This one will be 20), or maybe it is their personalities. We keep things as simple and normal as possible, and just take things as they come.

My son was 15.5 months when I had my daughter. I made sure I wasn't holding her when I came home, my Husband brought her in and I made a huge fuss of my son. My Husband had time off so every day one of us would take him to the park or beach to have some special time just for him. He also spent a few half days at his Nana's which he loves. We also kept to my sons routine as much as possible, breakfast, lunch, dinner, bath and bed all at the usual times so as not to confuse him. It went great, nowhere near as hard as I thought it might be.

I have a 2.5 year old and a four week old. (And a c-section). My midwife gave me some great advice - what ever behavior was not acceptable before the baby arrived, remains unacceptable. Be consistent with discipline and routine. She also said people often feel guilty for causing such a massive change in the toddlers life, but what greater gift can you give a child than a sibling? We had some awful days but every day is getting better.

Our son was 21 months when our daughter was born we had no problems at all. We included him in as much as possible through the pregnancy and then when she was born he was the first to meet her at the hospital (a few hours after that was), he was there when we left the hospital as a family and helped settle her into our home. My husband and I ensure we both had one on one time with him every day. They are now 3 and 16 months best of friends and we have yet had any jealousy. We allowed him to help out as much as possible if he wanted and never said no if he couldn't we just reworded it, we may have been very lucky as he does have a cruisy nature and very caring:)

My 4yr old is included in this preg. We follow his lead. But i have always told him he is special to me as we share the same bday.

I tried not to talk too much about the baby. Like " don't wake the baby" etc. and lots of talk to the baby about how lucky he was to have a cool big brother and how great it will be when you're bigger and can play with him etc. lots of cuddles with older child and include them. It's "our" baby!

Also show them pics of them as a baby.

2.5yo was awesome when his new brother came home. Only a little bit of jealousy. I made sure that whenever he wanted cuddles with the baby I let him and encouraged him to help at bath time and nappy time. He also loves to sing so when the baby cried we asked him to sing to him. Now when Riley cries (he 5.5mo) jasper runs up to him without being prompted and sings to him or gives him a toy to play with. He's the best big brother. We are so proud of him.

I have 2yrs 1 week between my two.. We just didn't make a big deal of the new baby, he got a present from her and some stuff to do up at the hospital. But we didn't fuss over baby till he was asleep.. When I breast feed I let him on my knee also, he helped with bath time etc.. And still got his usual mummy and daddy time. We did find he started waking in the night when she did and would come in so we put a mattress on the floor and let him sleep in with us also for a few weeks till he got used to his sister.. Things where back to normal around the 3 week mark and there was no jealousy at all.

lso he came to all the MW check ups and got to help listen to the heart beat etc and he got to have lots of cuddles with her once born

My son was just under 2yrs when we had my daughter. The baby got big brother a wee present when he came into visit us which he loved. We kept routines and disciplin the same also and i just always made a fuss about how much his new baby loved him and what a fantastic big brother he is!! :-) there were rough times but now they adore each other :-) its lovely!

We have 17 months between our two girls. We included DD1 into as much as we could with DD2 - talking about the baby before she was born, going to MW appts, scans etc, after she was born she helps fetch and carry nappies, food, toys etc and we have a book about being a big sister. She loves it when we get DD1 out of bed if DD2 comes too and they roll around together and make each other laugh. DD1 can still be rough with DD2 when she isn't getting enough attention but all in all not too bad

Just include toddler as much as possible with daily tasks, eg can u help me change nappy, shall we read stories together. When baby is sleeping do lots if fun games, read, laugh, play, cuddle. Stick to routine. Make a fuss with baby bout how lucky they are to have such a terrific big bro/sis. Etc. of course there could b days when there is some feelings of jealousy but just keep telling them u love them. When getting ready to feed bubs make sure u have a drink/snacks/books ready for toddler so if they ask u don't have to say in a min or when I've finished with baby. And if poss sit in middle of sofa so u have room either side for toddler to come and sit for cuddles etc..

I had my second son in June 2011 and my now 4 year old has been brilliant. We kept him involved the whole way through the pregnancy - he came with us to scans and midwife appointments and he was really excited. In hospital I wasn't holding the baby when he first visited so I could give him a cuddle straight away and talk to him but he was more interested in his brother than me! The baby also had a present waiting for Ben and Ben had been shopping for a present for the baby with my Mum. My husband had been saving his annual leave so he was off for a month and was able to stay and play with Ben at kindy a few days and could take him out if things got too much. All in all it was a great experience for us and the boys have a special relationship now.

While pregnant we never talked about 'new baby' as if she was any kind of replacement, instead we focussed on little sister and big brother, or baby girl and how great it would be to share our family and things with her. He came to all scans to see her. My 3yo 'helped' carry her in from the car and from day 1 has been amazing. Keep them involved, he helps settle her by singing also, gets nappies and has given her a bottle. He gets cuddles whenever he asks, his discipline is consistent and he gets one on one time with each parent but does understand that Mummy time will be after baby's feed etc. If he wants attention while I have my hands full he can bring a book and 'read' it to us. We talk a lot about him as a baby and have also made it ok for him to tell us if he is feeling unhappy or unsettled by things - eg we talk about how he feels when she cries etc and why she does it. The only sign he is ever jealous is when I refer to her as my angel or my baby, when he'll say "I'm your angel/baby too eh Mum", which of course he is.

My mother told me something VERY important - the baby won't remember you putting it down to deal with a toddler problem even if the baby gets upset, but the toddler will absolutely remember if you don't deal with the behaviour problem as it happens ... if you let behaviour stuff go because you are breastfeeding then pretty soon you will have behaviour problems every time you are breast feeding. They work it out very quickly if you are consistent - I have 4 children and this is how I coped - short term pain = long term gain.

we take photos of special times with toddler. he shares breastfeeds with baby and the family bed. He loved going to Kindy when baby was little too.

My midwife gave me the best piece of advice in that if you have an upset baby and an upset toddler always attend to the toddler first, as in that moment they will remember what happens. It is not going to hurt your baby to cry for an extra 30 seconds. Also include your toddler in feed times where you can - I kept a stash of books hidden in the couch and some juice boxes and wee snacks hidden in a pocket of my feeding pillow, as this always seems to be when the toddler wants fed or watered!

My boys are now two and four. I always told Mr 4 that he was going to get a little brother to play with. We would talk of all the things that they would be able to do together. When I would breastfeed I would have my son sitting beside me, reading a book, or some other activity. I tried to keep him involved in everything, like grabbing the nappy when his baby brother needed a change. Pulling up the blanket and giving his brother a kiss when he went to bed. We would also have our special time together. I didn't notice any jealously of his little brother at all. They are the best of friends. I love the way they are together. Mr 4 still covers Mr 2 with a blanket when he goes to bed and gives him a kiss :)

My daughter was 20months when my second daughter was born. I was so worried she would be jealous but so far so good. I think the biggest thing is keeping your child busy. Iif you let them get bored I think it makes things harder. I breast feed as well and thought that would be hard, but I just let my toddler cuddle up next to me if she wants to while I feed so she doesn't feel left out. I never underestimated how much she could understand. I talked alot about the baby while I was pregnant and told her there would be a baby coming home soon and explained her role as a big sister to her. I include her as much as possible ith nappy changes so she feels like she is my little helper. It is magical to witness the love they have for each other

I have a 9 week old and a 3 yr old - the big boy turned 3 10 days after baby was born, and I made sure that we had a 'party' for him.. was fairly low key with only a few kids, but he had a great time. My husband was off work for two weeks, and big boy does one day a week with my mum, so he gets some alone time without baby! I agree with making a deal about what a great big brother he is and how lucky the baby is. But we've been VERY lucky in that he adores his baby brother. We've had the odd wakeup in the night, but absolutely deal with it in the same way. Also, I've never tried to make him have anything to do with the baby until he's shown interest.. then he's the best helper on the planet. Iím stoked with our age gap as my eldest is fairly independant these days, and has had me put him off for a few minutes a lot already!

Thanks so much for the great advice everyone! Great timing with baby number 2 due in 3 weeks - my big boy will have just turned 2. Lots of fantastic practical tips here - thanks!

I've always done a present from the new baby to the bigger kids,...and years later they remember who gave what! When baby no 4 came, he gave the bigger ones a Hot Wheels racing car track & most times they play with it they remind Eddie that he gave it to them!!! I also agree with the posts above about telling your baby how lucky they are to have such a wonderful big brother etc...too often people tell the older sibling how fab is to to have a baby, how lucky they are to have a baby...when that may be the last thing the older sibling feels like!!

Thanks so much guys, my lil man will be 19 1/2 months when this lil one comes, some really really great advice! THANKS!

My 3 years old son is STILL super jealous of my 9 month old son! We have tried everything, i guess he may or may not grow out of it?!

We gave my 2 year old a present from the baby "wiggles duvet" when they 1st met in hospital which he loved! We also had a special box of new toys that I borrowed from friends that only came out when it was feeding time, and that worked a treat at keeping him entertained. The 2 year old also liked helping, fetching nappies etc and we took him out for special one on one time now and then, e.g for a fluffy at a cafe.

My son was 15 months old when my daughter arrived. We hung a big canvas photo of him when he was a baby in his room, so that we could talk about what a cute baby he was too. We also had "Big Brother Day" a day or two after I came home, where we celebrated his new status. He got a parking garage that he played with constantly.

we kept to his routine and dint make a big fuss of wasn't all about the new baby and what she needed anymore than what he needed. acceptable behaviour didn't change either - normalcy was so important. we emphasized him loving his sister. what i did do was make the little things a bit more special - like sitting together on teh deck for morning tea every day etc etc. just taking the every day stuff and making it about us. we made strong rules about feeding and him not being allowed on her playmat right from the start - that way there was a place a could leave her and go quickly do something and be fairly certain i wouldn't come back to a squashed baby :)

We have a 5 week old and a 2.5 year old and we did all of the above. Gave him a present from his little bro and tell him all the time what an awesome big brother he is and how much his brother loves him. He's a real mummies boy too so i extremely worried how he would like sharing me but I just make sure I still do lots of things with just the 2 of us. Like take him for a bike ride, and to his friends birthday party with daddy watches the bub. So far not many problems at all, he loves him and is very protective!