Posts in Parenting
How To Prepare Your Toddler For Your New Baby

My middle child is a force to be reckoned with. At two years old, she is bold, vivacious, and incredibly vocal, masha'Allah. She brings me so much laughter with an equal amount of frustration and adoration. When I realized that I was pregnant with my third child, I immediately thought of her. While spirited she is also very sweet, sensitive, and thoughtful. I was very concerned with how she might cope as we welcomed a new baby. Over the months to come, I found ways to affirm her, and I’d love to share them with you.

I know that I am not alone in this experience.

Many parents feel worry for how their children will cope when a new baby hits the scene. The change in family dynamic may be particularly difficult for young children to navigate. Suddenly, they’re no longer the baby - though they may still be working their way through early toddlerhood. At the same time, like my daughter, they may not have reached “big kid” status, placing them somewhere in the middle of two very different experiences. You may be wondering how you can help your child to adjust as easily is possible - here are a few things worth giving a try…

Prepare Your Child

Once you’ve made the decision to share your pregnancy with your child, take the opportunities to prepare him or her as they arise. If your child enjoys reading, be sure to bring books about welcoming a new baby (and about being an older sibling!) into your storytime. Encourage your child to become familiar with the idea of having a baby around. Introducing and engaging your child with a baby doll is a very common and helpful method of discussing baby’s needs and how your child might participate in meeting them. By providing your child ample time to become acclimated to the idea of being an older sibling, you may ease the difficulty that this change might cause your child when baby is finally born. Sibling doulas are an excellent resource for this, as well, and are a priceless investment for many families!

Affirm Your Relationship

While you are expecting, much focus is placed on the new baby to come and many times existing children feel misplaced. To avoid this, it is important that you relate to your child how important he or she is to you during this time. Your child may enjoy hearing stories about when he or she was a baby, and how excited you were to meet them at last! Let your child know how much you enjoy and appreciate them with kind words and acknowledgements. My daughter was very receptive to my reminders that I would always be her mom, and that she would always be my special girl. Find words that your child values, and use them lovingly to affirm their place in your heart.

Spend Quality Time

I attribute much of my daughter’s success in acclimating to her new sister to this tip. During my pregnancy, I made a point of spending time exclusively with her. Together we would go shopping, play dress up, or sprinkle bits of pink princess glitter on her cheeks. Over the months, these small activities grew into daily habits - traditions even. Now, each morning my daughter comes to my room to watch me apply my make up. She dazzles at herself in her small hand mirror, and she sits patiently as I do her hair. Getting ready in the morning with me makes her feel good, and I look forward to it because it’s something that she and I do together each day. Find something that you and your child can look forward to doing together, and during that time place your focus on him or her.

Avoid Applying Pressure

Because you know what awaits you when baby arrives, you may be motivated to move change in your child’s life. For example, you may try to push potty training or move your child to sleeping in his or her own bed. If you’re able to move these changes prior to baby’s arrival, then great job! Be aware, however, that it is very common for children to experience regressions once baby has arrived. If you begin to notice attempts from your child to return to “baby-like” behavior or habits, know that it is common and not cause for concern. Keep in mind that impressing the need for your child to “grow up” may result in feelings of resentment towards the new baby if this behavior is met with discipline or shaming. Try using positive reinforcement when your child does “big kid” things, and ignoring when he or she behaves otherwise.

With the help of close friends, my pediatrician, my experience as a postpartum doula, and - of course - my intuition as her mother, I found that these things worked for my family, and I encourage you to give them a try. Of course, as with every pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period - every child is unique and requires his or her own amount of affirmation. While some children will adjust to their new roles after baby arrives very easily, others may require a bit more encouragement.

What’s most important is that  you foster feelings of security, belonging, and love in your child so that he or she can be as open to the changes to come as possible. It will get easier as time passes!

Be sure to check out our Sibling Support board on Pinterest to find additional ideas on how to engage with your child during this transition!

xo,  Chelsea

5 Things I Know About Diapering

Once you've had your baby, diapering is one of very first tasks that you can expect to take on (and then repeat multiple times a day likely for the following two-ish years). Simple enough it may seem, right? You may find yourself surprised. Particularly for first time parents - though as a mother of multiple children I will say now that this also applies to repeat parents - there is certainly a learning curve. Here I'll give you a quick run down of five tips for what I like to call event-free diapering because believe me, you want to skip on any "events" in this department. 

Step To the Side

Save yourself the embarrassment - and the dry cleaning fee - of saving your clothes from the super potent newborn poo stain. As you're planning the layout of your baby's nursery, be sure to position the changing table in a way that will allow for you to stand at your baby's side rather than at his bottom. Babies' bowel movements can be quite explosive, and you don't want to be in the way when nature calls. Ask me how I know...

Be Prepared With Back Up

When preparing to change your baby's diaper, be sure to place a clean new diaper underneath her bottom before beginning to remove the soiled one. It's not uncommon for babies to pee once their bottoms become exposed to the cool air. Avoid a larger mess by having a new diaper in place and ready to catch the mess before it comes. Added bonus? As soon as you remove the soiled diaper, you can easily lift the front of the new one to cover your baby's bottom while you reach for the diaper cream or toss the soiled bundle.

Know Your Escape Route

Blow outs happen. Babies seem to be experts at getting poo up their backs and over the tops of their diapers. How do you get your baby out of his soiled clothes without getting messy? Easy! Notice the top at the shoulders of your baby's onesie. This envelope-looking bit will open wide enough to allow for you to pull your baby's clothes down and off his body instead of pulling the clothing over his head. You're welcome.

Coconut Oil Is Your Friend

Particularly for newborns, it is a wonderful idea to rub a bit of coconut oil over your baby's bottom after changing her diaper. Baby's first poos are of a dark, sticky, tar-like consistency. This substance - called meconium - may be tough to cleanse, but with a touch of coconut oil you'll be able to remove it from your baby's bum in no time. Coconut oil is also a gentle moisturizer and an anti-fungal meaning it may also prevent your baby from developing yeast or diaper rashes. 

Soak It All Up

...and not in a gross way. Enjoy this time. Yes, you'll change many a diaper, but your baby will be a little different each time you do so. Changing your baby's diaper isn't a race. Take the time to notice the small details on your baby - the tiny feet, the new chunks on her legs, the birthmark on her belly, her smile or coo. Your baby will only be this small for so long, and this small exchange between the two of you is something that will one day be very dear to your heart. Revel in this gentle, quiet, and possibly messy moment. You'll miss it one day. I promise.

There you have it! Five quick tips about diapering that can apply to any parent or caregiver. No matter if you choose to use cloth or disposable diapers, may these tips make your diapering journey a bit more pleasant! Not a fan of changing #allthediapers? Postpartum doulas do that! We'll be happy to help when you need us - just give us a call. 

xo, Chelsea