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Prepping Your Toddler for Baby #2

Sarah Biegel

If you're reading this, you're either 1) pregnant with #2 (or 3, etc) 2) thinking about getting pregnant with #2 or 3) a family or friend is pregnant with #2.

Either way... Congrats!!!

It's such an exciting time, but it also lead me to really think hard and study up about how my first would react to such a huge life change.

I'm a researcher. I will listen to all the podcasts, google all the questions and ask all the moms for all the advice before acting on my own.

I just wanted to share a few takeaways from my own research that I feel really helped my daughter transition positively to her new baby sister. (But please keep in mind, it hasn't been all rainbows and butterflies over here. Toddlers sometimes can't process their emotions due to the lack of development in their brains so their emotions may seem really BIG all of a sudden - at least that was the case for us. And that's ok. Keep doing what you're doing.)

Read books about being a big brother or sister.

Can't recommend this enough, especially for kiddos that take to books really well. Every transition we've made (big girl bed, potty training etc) has been accompanied by a book. We were gifted this book, "Babies Don't Eat Pizza" and all my daughter talked about for weeks was how babies don't have teeth so they can't eat pizza. It made it kind of fun for her and was the perfect way for her to process the change at her age.

Have a gift specifically for big brother or sister once you arrive home from the hospital.

The second day home, my daughter was in love with her sister but was very emotional about things she typically wasn't. At that exact time, a knock on the door came with a package of cookies my Mom sent (thanks Mom!) that said "Congrats Big Sister!" They were specifically for her and it was so exciting for her to be able to open something and make her feel special.

Treat your toddler like they are baby #1.

I don't mean rock them and feed them with a bottle. But give them extra snuggles like you would a newborn. Get down on their level and play with them when you can. Tell them you love them over and over again. Make them feel loved and special. And when you notice them acting out, it's probably them feeling a little jealous or having some big feelings they can't process. That's when they need you the most.

Don't force it.

Don't force your toddler to hug or kiss the new baby. Honestly, don't push anything. Let them warm up to new baby on their own. This allows them to explore on their own without feeling obligated to do so. I also refrained from blaming anything on the new baby like, "I can't play with you because I have to feed baby." Instead, I'd say things like "I'd love to play with you as soon as I'm done feeding baby." And then I stuck to my word!

While my experience bringing baby #2 home was not all rainbows and butterflies, my daughter truly loves being a big sister and helps out when she wants to. Does she have moments of really big feelings and meltdowns? Yes. But I think we've avoided many more by prepping the way we did.

Sarah B.

Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, Sarah and her family currently reside in Florida while her husband pursues his NFL career. Her two daughters keep her and her husband on their toes at all times. Due to their many adventures and moves, Sarah has become a professional toddler wrangler and traveller. She enjoys baking recipes with her daughter that have been handed down to her from prior generations.

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Sarah Biegel