Adjusting to a new baby

Adjusting to a new baby is a difficult process for most toddlers.

Paying attention to your toddler's signals will help you know how they are feeling about a new baby.  Photo credit: Pixabay.
Paying attention to your toddler's signals will help you know how they are feeling about a new baby. Photo credit: Pixabay.

No matter how well you have prepared your toddler for the arrival of a new baby, it will take some time for them to adjust to the new baby.  Giving up time, belongings and attention is very frustrating and confusing for children.  They simply do not understand the concept of sharing and cannot imagine why this little person cries a lot and how they get so much attention. 

It is common in the first week or two for your toddler to be loving and helpful with the new baby, according to Michigan State University Extension.  However, they soon realize that this little one is here to stay and the novelty wears off.  When children have a strong attachment with their parents, they often seen themselves as the center of your world.  Your toddler may feel ignored, lonely, jealous or angry.  At their age they do not have the language or cognition skills to identify or appropriately deal with these feelings.  You may notice there is regression that may result in a return to babyish behaviors.  They may begin talking like a “baby,” want a bottle or have toileting mistakes.  They may also try to show just how big they are by modeling grown-up behaviors and become more independent.  Toddlers may also be aggressive toward a new baby, poking or hitting their new sibling.

Paying attention to your toddler’s signals will help you know how they are feeling.  They will depend on you to help them become comfortable and secure with all the changes in their life.  Some ways you can help your child include:

  • Ask visitors to make sure they pay attention to your toddler when they visit the new baby.  Also, if they are bringing a gift for the baby, ask if they could also pick up something small for your toddler. 
  • Be sure to set aside a few minutes of special, uninterrupted time alone for you and your toddler.
  • Talk to them about their feelings.  Help them identify what they are feeling, and that it’s okay to feel that way, but keep firm limits when it comes to inappropriate behavior.
  • Keep them on their normal routine.
  • Remind them often how much you love them.

Siblings need time to get to know and love one another.  Parents need to teach them that each person plays a special part in making their family work.

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