How to Survive Your Newborn With a Toddler
Imagine that your husband came home one day and said, “Hi honey, here’s my new wife! She is going to live with the two of us forever and I am going to be married to you both. No worries, I will still love you the same and I will still spend time with you, but now we will have to include her in all of our fun as well.”
Uhhhh… yeah, hell no.
Unfortunately, this is exactly how things seem the moment you bring your newborn baby home to your toddler. Excitement might set in at first, but then they realize that this new tiny human being is here to stay and is stealing your quality time away from mommy and daddy. Then the tantrums begin and all hell breaks loose.
I thought things would be easier when bringing home our daughter since Greyson did so well with her in the hospital. He loved on her, kissed her, hugged her, and even talked to her. But once we got home and we started having to.. well.. take care of a newborn, our son started acting out. No, not the typical “I-am-2-I-suck-at-this-age” tantrum, I mean REAL frustrating, meaningless outburts. If he sees me feeding my daughter, he will scream at me for boob and hit my Boppy pillow the baby is laying on if he does not get it right away. Then, there comes the punishment and you feel like such a dick. I cannot tell you how many times I have cried in the last few days from frustration, but then one day all of this changed… it got better.
Here are my tips to surviving life with a newborn while having a toddler and getting them to adjust:
Make time for your toddler. This one is HARD as well. I am just gonna say it. I thought it would be a lot easier than this, but boy was I wrong. Newborns require a lot of attention and needs and do not expect your toddler to understand this, ok?? Because no amount of verbal explanations will calm your toddler down when they are screaming to be held after seeing you hold your new baby. It is frustrating as hell, but you have to compromise. Pass over your newborn to your husband or put them down for just a bit, and hold your crazy, screaming toddler. Why? Because they need it too. As they get older and more knowledgable, then you can verbally explain why the baby needs your attention right then and there. But toddlers pay attention to your actions-not your words. If you find yourself spending less time with your toddler, take a break and go read them a book. Play cars or dolls with them for 15 minutes. Hold them and baby while watching a movie. You have got to make the time for them, too.
Allow your toddler to help with your newborn. I actually am so surprised that a lot of parents do not allow their other kids to help out with baby. My son is 2, but we have allowed him to hold his newborn sister (with our assistance), feed her (again, assisted), and even help change diapers-all because he WANTS to. If we say no, he gets mad. So, why not teach the good deed of helping while making your toddler feel included in this new family event? When the toddler is able to help, they automatically feel empowered and good about themselves. It really boosts their self esteem and minimizes the wedge between the two children and jealousy. Your kiddo may or may not be the best helper ever, but allow them to do little things and give them lots and lots of praise for it. Stroke their ego a bit. You will get a happy, helpful, independent toddler in return.
Find your new routine and adjust. Chances are that if you had a solid routine prior to giving birth to baby #2, that same routine is not gonna cut it-at least this time being. Everything you once knew about having just one kid has been thrown out of the window and now it is up to you to struggle to adapt to first adopt this new lifestyle and secondly adjust to it to create a new routine for your now newborn and toddler. Phew. Sounds like a lot of work right? It will all come in time; however, creating a new routine that works for your family is key here. If you used to put Baby 1 to bed at 8pm and Baby #2 cries for a feeding, that might have to wait a bit or you can ask your husband to help out. Trial and error will allow you to find this new amazing routine. Just don’t freak out if you are a control freak like I am. This just cannot be controlled. Once you get your newborn downpat with a feeding and napping schedule, work with your toddler.
Understand this is not easy on your toddler. After seeing my son do so well with his sister, I thought “ok, cool, he loves her and this is going to be a piece of cake.” WRONG. Though he loves her, it is very hard on him to see a newborn in mommy and daddy’s arms. When I breastfeed her, he wants boob right then and there and will scream at me until I whip my other boob out for him. If I don’t or if I tell him no, he lashes out by trying to hit or scream. I cannot tell you how many times I have cried in the last two days from frustration from this, but then I must remember that while this is hard on me, it is very hard on him too. So I try my best to make him feel included as well.
Life with a toddler and newborn is not easy, but know that this too shall pass. Your toddler WILL get used to baby and things WILL get better for you. The prime things you will need here are:
Do you have any tips or suggestions for helping toddler adjust to a new sibling? How old was your older child when you brought the new sibling home?