Having a Second Baby with a Toddler
When I first found out I was pregnant with our second baby, I was immediately overcome by guilt…even though we’d been trying. I was sure I was destroying my son’s life by making him a big brother so soon. Having a second baby with a toddler was a challenge, but these tips made it so much easier!
I immediately decided to try to do everything I could to enjoy the time I had left with my son as an only child and to prepare him as best I could to be a big brother.
Looking back, I realize I was being completely ridiculous.
My sons are now the absolute best of friends and I can’t imagine where they’d be without each other.
Now that we’ve added a third baby and are about to add a fourth, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about how to prepare toddlers for a new baby.
These are the things we start doing each time I’m pregnant.
#1 – Focus on Your Toddler, Not the New Baby
Let me explain.
When you find out you’re pregnant, immediately start framing everything about the baby in terms your toddler can understand AND be proud of.
Make a big deal out of the new baby, but phrase it in a way that you’re so excited your toddler is going to be a big brother or sister.
“We can’t wait for you to teach your new baby how to build blocks!”
“Do you think you could help mommy and daddy by showing the new baby around when he or she gets here?”
My main focus was to try to completely prevent our son from feeling jealous of the new baby.
As an only child, this was completely uncharted territory for me.
We framed everything like this that we possibly could.
When we talked about the baby to other people and our son was in earshot, we would say “Kolton is going to be a big brother!” rather than telling them that “Jamie is pregnant!”
Related: How to Stop Toddler Tantrums
#2 – Buy the Baby a Gift from Your Toddler
We started this with our son and have continued it with each pregnancy.
We took our son shopping for the new baby (we didn’t find out his gender) and he could pick out anything he wanted – within reason.
Buying this little toy for the new baby was enough to get our son so excited for his new sibling to arrive.
He literally couldn’t wait to give the baby the present.
#3 – Buy Your Toddler a Gift from the Baby
This is a tip I hadn’t really heard of before we started doing it.
We bought our son a small gift to congratulate him on becoming a big brother and his new baby brother came home from the birth center with a new gift too!
What better way to offset any jealousy AND find a way to keep your toddler distracted than a new toy?
This is the toy we bought our son and this is the one his new brother “bought” him.
Since I delivered at a birth center, we were able to come home within 12 hours.
IF I had delivered at the hospital, we would have kept the gift with the hospital bag and would have taken it with us.
Seriously, if you do nothing else, buy a couple of cute little gifts for them to give each other!
#4 – Remember Your Oldest is Still a Baby
Unless you have a pretty big age gap between kids, this probably applies to you.
This tip comes courtesy of a former coworker of mine and I’m so eternally grateful to her for telling me this.
She said she was so annoyed with her daughter while she was trying to adjust to caring for two kids during the day.
Her mom had to keep reminding her that her daughter was still a baby too and it was unrealistic to expect her to “know better.”
I must have repeated those words to myself a thousand times before my second son had his first doctor’s appointment.
Doesn’t my 17 month old know he needs to be quiet because the baby’s sleeping?
Doesn’t he see I can’t play with him right now because I’m breastfeeding?
No! He doesn’t!
This is absolutely key to your toddler adjusting easily to the new baby.
Realize they’re going through a huge adjustment too and do whatever it takes to take the brunt of the stress of the new baby so that neither of your babies have to.
You and your husband are the only two people who can give these babies an awesome first few days together. Use this time to bond as a family, while letting the stress roll off as much as possible.
These days will fly by, nothing else actually matters!
#5 – Have Your Toddler Help Get the House Ready for New Baby
While your body goes through all of the changes to create a new baby and your bump grows and grows, your house will go through tons of changes too!
Have your toddler help you out, even if it takes way longer than just doing it yourself.
Setting up the nursery?
Include your toddler!
Building a crib or changing table?
Ask your toddler to help!
Even the simplest tasks can help your toddler to feel less excluded in this whole process.
Try to think of everything through the eyes of your toddler.
We don’t want them to feel like this baby is just mommy and daddy’s. This baby belongs to all 3 of us, so let’s treat him or her that way.
#6 – Make a Big Deal Out of Telling Them!
When we told our 3 toddlers that baby #4 was on the way, we made a huge deal out of it and took them to Disney Springs to tell them.
I have a video of pure excitement out of our boys.
I’m definitely not suggesting you take a trip to Orlando to tell your toddler you’re having a new baby.
We happened to be there for my husband’s job so it worked out.
Even if you just bring home a couple of balloons and throw a little party in your living room – really make a big deal out of this pregnancy when you tell your toddler to set the stage for what a big deal this is!
#6 – Prepare Yourself Too!
This is the best way to prepare your child for a new baby.
While adding our second baby to our family was the best thing we could ever have done for our son, I don’t want to minimize how hard it was.
I always tell people that going from one baby to two was the hardest transition yet.
Our babies are perfect and I completely adore them, but the first few days at home with two kids by myself was the hardest time for me so far as a mom.
To give you some perspective – my first day home with our toddler and newborn, I actually called my husband at work and told him to quit his job and come home.
I told him I didn’t care how we paid the bills.
I was serious. It was so stressful that I didn’t care.
Looking back, of course I was being hormonal and irrational, but prepare yourself for the same things because your hormones will be out of whack too!
#7 – Read Books to Prepare Toddler for New Baby
A great way to prepare your toddler for a new baby is to read books about it together.
We did a TON of this with our first son.
We adore Daniel Tiger in our house and watched the new baby episode about a million times when I was pregnant with my second son.
This book is adorable and helps to get your toddler excited for the new baby while answering any questions they have that you might have overlooked.
A big one in our house was where will I go while mommy has the baby? Just taking some of the question out of the whole experience is a huge help to a tiny person getting ready to go through this huge life change!
Do you remember the Berenstain Bears? I actually had this book for some reason, but I can’t recommend it enough for parents expecting their second child to read to their toddler.
I’m pregnant with our 4th baby and we’re reading this one to our 3 toddlers almost every night.
What steps are you taking to prepare your toddler for a new baby? What are your biggest concerns? Start the conversation in the comments on Instagram and let’s get through it together!