Managing Behaviors from Your Toddler When a New Baby Joins the Family

Help for Managing Behaviors from Your Toddler When a New Baby Joins the Family

Having a second baby can be a tricky time to navigate with your toddler. You may find that they start to act out. This can be for a variety of reasons but below are 5 tips for helping avoid some challenging behaviors and keeping the peace!

1. Treat your children equally: You will be cooing over your baby throughout each day but make an effort to praise and dote on your toddler as well. If they are exhibiting negative behavior, recognize that this is their effort to communicate their hurt or frustration.

2. Carve out special time for your older child – Spend one-to-one time with the older child, this is especially important for mom and older child, without the baby in the same room. Far too many new families organize for dad to take care of the toddler or preschooler, taking them to nursery or the park, while mom stays home with the baby, but the opposite needs to happen. Mom needs to do things alone with the older child while dad has baby on a regular basis. For breastfed babies, feed and run – most breastfed babies can cope without a feed for half an hour. Schedule this time into your day and focus on playing. Play is how children communicate and connect.

3. Let your older child have an outlet – Let others take your child out to a park, arrange play dates and wherever possible, continue their routine of extracurricular activities, and/or daycare/school.

4. Avoid big boy/big girl talk – If your house is focused on a little one, being big doesn’t seem very appealing. Have you ever wondered why new siblings may start to speak in baby talk, want to use a pacifier, or ask to breastfeed or bottle feed again? It’s because being little seems so much more interesting! Try as hard as you can to not talk about them ‘being big’. Saying “you’re still my baby” is so much better.

5. Create consistency around your older child’s routines in the lead up to baby and after – Keep things the same as much as possible for at least three months before the baby arrives and three months after. You don’t want to be starting anything new with your older child that they may somehow attribute to the baby. For instance, don’t move them out of their room, or your bed, to make way for the new arrival. Similarly, don’t potty train between 6 months of pregnancy until your newborn is 3 months old. (I made this mistake and it did NOT end well!) Don’t start or change nursery either if possible. Consistency and predictability spells security in your child’s world.

Introducing Your Older Child to Baby

1. Have them come to hospital

2. Have another loved one hold the baby or have the baby in the nursery when your toddler arrives so that mom can give plenty of kisses, hugs and one-on-one love and you can meet the baby together.

3. Ask them if they would like to “hold” the baby or give the baby a kiss. Make it positive and praise them. Don’t force it if they don’t want to. Tell them that the baby already loves them.

4. Some children refuse to see the baby; they should not be forced. Do not be concerned this will not affect his future interaction with the newborn. Have the older child give the baby a special gift and give the older child a gift from you to let them know that you still have a special relationship.

5. If possible, involve your child when it is time to take the baby home, this will give him a sense of belonging and importance.


Jessica is the Founder of The Parent Collective (TPC), which offers a new approach to prenatal classes which helps couples establish friendships among couples who live local to one another and are due at the same time all while skipping the judgments and agendas of other classes. Inspired by the NCT of the UK, TPC is an alternative to other childbirth education classes which lend themselves to a more intensive, one-and-done model and we hope that couples taking a TPC series will cultivate a social network through weekly participation, forge a robust prenatal/parental support system and of course, gather playmates for the little ones on the way. To learn more visit: www.theparentcollective.com