Congratulations on the upcoming addition to your family! Introducing a new sibling can be both exciting and challenging for you and your toddler. If your current little one is not as thrilled about the idea of a new little brother or sister as you hoped, do not worry! They will soon grow out of these emotions and behaviors. In the meantime, to help them adjust, we have come up with tips for a smooth transition when having a second baby with a toddler in tow!


Once you feel confident and ready to announce the baby’s upcoming arrival to your little one, have a chat to explain what is going on and how things will change. Share with them that you have their new little brother or sister in your belly and the season the baby is expected to arrive. Warn your child that babies cry a lot and need a lot of attention to grow up big and strong. Explain the task ahead for you both, learning how to prepare for a second baby. Invite them to work together with you to understand the new baby’s crying, as they communicate without using words. Let them know that the baby needs to sleep a lot, even during the day. Offer to come up with a bunch of super fun ideas for quiet activities they can do while the new baby is sleeping.


After explaining the exciting new circumstances ahead, it is time to teach your little one the new concepts and skills they will need to know to help keep the baby safe and the house running smoothly. Start off by showing the sibling the things about the baby that will look and act a little different from them. Teach them that the baby does not eat at first, only drinking from breast or bottle. Let them know that the baby will need to be burped and take the opportunity for a fun demonstration using their favorite doll or stuffed animal. Then, use the toy to explain that babies’ necks are weak and take time to strengthen. Show your child how the head needs support and where the soft spots on the skull are. Continue to reinforce the necessity of gentle behaviors with the baby in order to keep the newborn safe.


This can be a whirlwind of new information for your little one! To help ease the adjustment, use photos and videos of your toddler to show them what they looked like as a newborn. Explain that just like them, the new baby will grow into a kid too, and can soon be a lifelong buddy! To help them visualize what is coming, if you can, visit a home with the baby of a friend or relative. If this is not an option, try offering picture books or reading to your child about how to prepare for a second baby.


While children under three will have a more difficult time understanding, at four or five children’s awareness might cause them to turn to bigger emotions instead. As children get older, it becomes more likely that they will experience jealousy, sibling rivalry, or resentment towards their new baby brother or sister. Ideally, you want your child to channel these emotions and learn to be excited about the new baby. Helping them start to handle these feelings ahead of time can be key to a smooth transition. Start by teaching the sibling how to wait for things before the baby arrives. Train them by making them wait for slightly longer intervals here and there to get attention or receive things they want. Prioritize and reward behaviors that show care for others and the ability to share.


Another important part of keeping your child’s negative feelings in check is to show them that they are still a priority. Having a second baby with a toddler requires planning ahead to avoid situations that might make your little one feel like they are being pushed out or displaced. For example, if the older sibling needs to move to a new room to create the nursery, plan ahead and make the transition early so they can get used to it. When it comes to milestones for your toddler, don’t rush it! Either complete the toddler toilet training before the baby’s birth or wait until a few months after the birth to start. Assess your child’s feelings about important moments to make sure they know that they are still equally as important.


As your child becomes more used to the idea of their new sibling, be sure to address the correct way to play. Be clear with your toddler that they need to be very careful when interacting with the newborn. No rough-housing! Instead, encourage them to get excited about talking in different voices, reading and singing to the baby, offering a finger to hold, and toys for the baby to look at. Show them what gentle play looks like by using a doll or stuffed animal for demonstration. Take special care to explain that they will need to be especially cautious and gentle with the baby’s head and face. 


As your child waits for the newborn to grow up and become their new playmate, let them know that in the meantime they can still play along with you! Have your child hold their favorite doll or stuffed animal just like you hold the baby. Let them join in on the fun! Always be sure to give enough attention, reward good behavior, and compliment your toddler to let them know how important they are and that they are doing a great job. It can help to schedule one-on-one time with your child to show them that they are still a priority. Whenever possible, let them help out so they can feel involved and important too.

At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, our passionate team of pediatricians is prepared to guide your family through the process of introducing a new member of the family to your toddler. We know that navigating how to prepare a sibling for a new baby can be tough! So please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions. We look forward to seeing your happy toddler and newborn whenever you’re ready!