10 Tips for Transitioning to 2 Kids
By Mindy, Contributing Writer
Although I was beyond happy and excited, I will admit that I was a bit anxious about adding a second child to our household. I had heard from countless people that the hardest transition was going from one child to two.
Despite my anxiety, I was still so thrilled when we welcomed our baby girl into the world a few short weeks ago. We were blessed to have an awesome home birth, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
However, it definitely is a big transition to go from just having a toddler at home to having a toddler and a newborn. Here are a few tips that have helped us and continue to help us as we make the transition to having two children.
Before the New Baby Arrives
1. Talk to your child a LOT about the new baby that’s in your belly.
The more you talk about your new baby, the more your child will be used to the idea of having a new baby around. If you have a name picked out for the baby, call him or her by name so that your child can relate better and understand that there is a real person inside of you.
Explain that one day soon the new baby in your belly is going to come out and be a part of your family. Give your child nothing but positive affirmations of their new baby sibling.
2. Read your child a lot of books about children getting a new baby sibling.
Children learn so much when you take the time to sit down and read with them. Reading books about new babies can help your older child become excited and help them to understand what it means to have a new baby brother or sister.
Here is a list of new baby books to give you some ideas:
3. Buy your child a shirt that says Big Brother (or Sister) to make them feel special.
There are so many cute “Big Brother” and “Big Sister” shirts available on Etsy and other places. Or if you’re feeling up to it, make one yourself!
Make a big deal out of it when you give the shirt to your child. Wrap it up or put it in a gift bag and tell them that you have a big surprise for them.
Your child will love to wear it, and it will make them feel like being an older sibling is such a special thing.
The Early Days After Baby is Born
4. Once baby arrives, make a special effort to give a little extra attention to the older sibling.
This can be tricky! But if you have a plan, it can be done.
I found a few very simple activities on Pinterest that I knew my son would enjoy. I gathered up anything that I would need for them before the baby was born. This allowed me to very easily pull off a few fun (and extra special) projects with my son after the baby arrived.
It doesn’t have to be anything fancy either! Your child would love it even if you just got a few new books from the library to read to them after the baby is born. Just something to confirm in their little minds that you are still their mommy and will still continue to love them and play with them as before.
5. Plan to have family members or close friends come over to entertain your child during the first few days.
I was very blessed to have my mom come and stay with us for almost a week after our daughter was born. I can’t tell you how much of a help that was to me.
Not only did she cook all of our meals for us, but she also played with and loved on our older son, giving him even more attention than he usually got at home with just me. This gave me the chance to mainly focus on the new baby without feeling guilty that my son wasn’t getting enough attention.
6. Don’t feel guilty for allowing your child to have more than normal TV time.
The first few days after birth can be so exhausting. Sometimes letting your older child watch a TV show or two can let you get some rest while your baby is napping.
I don’t normally like to allow my son to watch much TV, but he definitely watched more than he was used to right after our daughter was born. I would rest on the couch in the afternoon while he watched an episode or two or his favorite kids show. He still had plenty of creative play time during the day, but this gave us both a chance to just stop and rest while he stayed occupied.
The Following Weeks (and Months)
7. Try to keep your older child on their same familiar routine as much as possible.
Undoubtedly, your child’s routine may have to be changed up a little with the addition of a new baby to the household.
However, with routine (especially for children) comes comfort, so try not to let the very familiar parts of their day be changed too much once baby arrives. The daily routine may need to be adjusted to make it work for everybody, but keeping your older child on a routine will help them know what to expect every day and will bring them comfort and reassurance.
8. Include your older child in helping to care for the baby if they are interested.
I can see the pride in my son’s eyes when he is able to help me care for our baby. Simple things like getting a diaper for me, covering the baby up with a blanket, giving her a stuffed animal, and bringing me her lotion and other supplies make him feel like he is an important part of taking care of his baby sister.
This makes him feel so special, and I believe that it has helped him not become jealous. He feels like he is a part of this new adventure in our lives.
I make sure to always praise him for his help also.
“You’re such a good big brother! Thank you so much for your help! You’re baby sister loves you so much!”
9. Give yourself plenty of time before leaving the house by yourself with both children.
I remember when our oldest was born how much harder it was for me to do something simple like go to the grocery store. Suddenly, I had to pack a bag, put a baby in a car seat, load the car seat in the car, unload it when we got to the store, and all the while make sure that the baby was happy, clean, and fed. Whew! It was a lot easier when I could just hop in the car all by myself and go anywhere I wanted.
Well, the only thing harder than getting out of the house with a baby is getting out of the house with a toddler and a baby!
Be patient with yourself! When you are ready to take both children out, plan only a small, short trip to give yourself a trial run. See how that goes, and eventually you will be comfortable taking them anywhere!
10. Expect a new normal!
Things will not be the same as they were before.
I am a work from home mama. I have a design business as well as a blog. I enjoy doing both of these things very much, and I had a schedule that worked well before our new baby came. My son took great naps every afternoon, and I was able to get a lot of work done during that time.
Well, I foolishly thought that I could go on with my old schedule a few weeks after our new baby was born. Ha! I soon got a reality check when I tried to implement that same schedule again! Now when my son is napping, I am nursing, changing diapers, and rocking a sweet little baby girl. On top of that, I’m a bit exhausted from being up at night with the baby and trying to keep up with managing our family and house.
So, I have accepted the fact that I will need to find a new normal! I’m still working toward what that is going to look like, but I know that we will get eventually there. And although there are days that are tough, when I look at these two sweet babies of mine I know that it is oh so worth it!
What are your tips for transitioning to more children? Was the transition easier or harder than you expected?
I definitely feel like transitioning to two kids instead of three was harder. But, in the end it all works out!
We just made the transition from one to two 6 months ago, and I couldn’t agree more with this list! One more thing that has helped with our son is letting him “play baby”. It cut back on regression because it was turned into a game with an end time when we moved onto the next activity. He would pretend to cry and my husband and I would rock him or hold him the way we did our newborn.
Our older son also was in denial at first that we had a new baby in the house. He chose to play in another room, and when people would ask him if he had a baby brother he would plainly say “no”. We did not try to correct him, instead we allowed him to come to know his little brother on his own terms. That helped a lot and we didn’t experience the jealousy that I heard about from many others.
Ok… What about transitioning from one to THREE?!? Our unexpected double blessing has given us an added challenge. 😉 Great tips! We did most of this an found it helpful. Finding our new normal…
This might sound super silly but it worked for us…we did many of the things you suggested but it seemed the real turning point for our daughter when her brother came was to have him “talk” to her. We would talk to her and pretend it was him, kind of like a puppet, and she LOVES it! That was when she stopped seeing him as in the way and more as a person she could engage with. She’s three and understands were pretending, but she always asks If she can “talk” to her brother now and she’s very mindful of him and affectionate with him. He’s seven months now and it’s been a blast to see her engage with him this way. Hope this helps someone too 🙂
We do something like that. I sometimes interpret my youngest daughter’s cries for my older daughter. I say, “The baby is saying, ‘Where are you guys?’ She doesn’t know where we are because she can’t see us. We had better go over to her.” She loves it, and will interpret herself. I agree that it helps her to engage with the baby and see that the baby also has needs.
Also, I really agree with the comment about allowing the baby to cry for a minute while you attend to the toddler. Not always, but it is important.
I wish I’d read this before having my second a year ago! 🙂 Thanks for #6–I finally just had to give myself permission on that front and remember that it was only for a season. And, #8 is so true. We let my older daughter be as involved as possible in caring for baby brother and she still takes such pride in helping with him.
Going from one to two completed terrified me, but it was actually a lot easier than I expected (my husband will say the opposite, though!). However, I think that’s because I had had time to work through a lot of my own selfishness and feelings of entitlement to “me” time, sleep, etc. (good things! I just had a not-great perspective on them) that made going from zero to one so hard for me.
Excellent article! Having fun activities planned for special time is a gret idea I would not have thought of. One thing we are doing is making sure any changes that need to happen, happen well before the baby comes. We don’t want our toddler to associate the loss of these things to the baby. For example. I have always been the one to put her to bed after our family night-time routine. Since I plan to nurse, it is likely that daddy will have to take that job far more often than he has and we started making that change shortly after we found out I was pregnant. Rearranging rooms, toys, and schedules should be done before so that you can stick to your routine after the baby comes.
Thank you for this. We are expecting #2 next month and it will definitely be interesting to see how our daughter reacts with a new sibling. I love the idea of reading books to help with the transition and will definitely check them out.
Very timely post for me! We are expecting our second in another month and a half. We’ve found have baby e’s things out–her clothes, particularly–is a good “conversation” starter with our 21mo/old. He seems to have at least made the connection between the baby’s clothes and mommy’s tummy 🙂
Thank you so much for the super practical suggestions!
At times, I think it is good to purposely choose to do something which your toddler has asked of you before you pick up the crying baby….assuring him or her that the baby can wait a few minutes. This shows them they are still your high priority too and it will let them know baby isn’t the center all things. A mom of 8
Thanks so much for such good and easy ideas, may God bless you…
These tips are fantastic! I agree that the transition from one to two was really, really difficult for me. (And in a few months we’ll be transitioning from two to three.) The hardest part for me was coming to the realization that I just couldn’t take care of both of them at the same time when they were both demanding my attention. Something as simple as getting out of the car required me to pay attention to one while the other had to wait. Accepting that someone would just have to wait and that was the way it had to be made me feel a lot better.
I love you – and I just wanted to say that your new profile pic is awesome!
Wonderful tips! My two are just under 20 months and I actually polled all my mommy friends for tips before try were born. I got a lot of the same tips and they worked great! Some other great tips that worked for us: older brother picked out a special lovey blankie for sister (presented to her when she first came home and still a favorite today!) and big brother was presented with a special small toy ‘from baby sister’. This helped them both feel special. Also, every one of my mommy friends reminded me that there will be times when my toddler will need me and the baby will be crying and that it’s ok. (As long as baby’s needs are being met overall, of course.) That was the hardest transition for me, especially since I never had to worry about that with my older one. Another tip that worked well for us, was that whenever I nursed the baby, I had my toddler bring me books (or I gathered some beforehand) and I read to him. This way he never felt like he was being pushed to the side. All of these tips really helped! My son, now 4 1/2, and my daughter, almost 3, are best friends! I hope they always are! (:
Congratulations! Enjoy all the special moments! They grow up so fast!
Take it from me. I learned the hard way. When our 3rd child was born, we allowed our oldest(who was almost 8) to spend the night at the hospital with us. That left our 2nd child, Samuel, to be almost forced to spend the night with my parents(whom he loved but wasn’t use to being forced to spend the night with.) Maybe we didn’t discuss it enough beforehand to prepare him. He seemed to take it hard. Maybe he just knew there was nothing he could do about it. I don’t know that I gave much thought to how he might feel with his older sister being able to stay and us sending him home. When he got back to the hospital the next day, though, he was “king.” We are a very close family, and he was only 4 at the time. We are still learning! Kim
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Instead of putting a rocking chair in the new baby’s room, we put a love seat (it’s actually a double rocker/recliner – from Craigslist and super ugly, but you can’t tell under it’s new cover!)! This made it so much easier to cuddle and read stories while I nursed.