The world is abuzz with the birth of the newest member of Britain’s royal family, Prince "Name-Has-Yet -To-Be-Announced." We have seen the adorable big brother and big sister march into the hospital to visit their new sibling.
And we watched mother and child leave the hospital, 7 hours post –partum, Mum glowing like she just had a lovely cup of tea and some scones, not an 8 pound 7 ounce baby boy!
But what is home life like when a new baby is added to the family? How will your toddler react? And what happens to potty training?
Initially, most toddler siblings are cautiously curious about this new being that doesn’t do much but cry, poop and take up space in Mama’s arms. Some toddlers may want to poke, prod or hold the baby. Other toddlers may not show any interest.
Try not to to lend too much weight to any negative behaviors that your toddler exhibits towards the new baby. Their universe has shifted quite significantly and they will need time to adjust. Even though you have explained to them over and over that a baby is on the way, none of this is truly real until that baby is in the home.
By the same token you will need time to adjust too. If you had your new baby in the hospital this may be the longest time you have spent away from your toddler, who will suddenly seem like a GIANT next to your newborn.
You may worry that your toddler will hurt the baby, with their less than precise motions. Try to resist the urge to shoo your toddler away. Instead create ways for your toddler to help. Have them toss the diapers into the diaper pail, or rub the baby’s foot during diaper change. Have your toddler “read” their books to the baby and when possible, tend to your toddler before your baby. Leaving the baby in crib for an extra minute while you loudly say “Sorry baby, your big brother needs me!” is a huge boost to a toddler’s ego and will decrease their feelings of being cast out of the spotlight. We also found that planning an outing that the baby can't participate in, even if it's just a trip to the playground where baby is" just too small to swing on the swings," does wonders to highlight the benefits of being a big brother or sister.
And finally, about that potty training, if you have been listening to our advice, you did not embark on potty training in the last trimester of your pregnancy, therefore your child either mastered potty training long before the baby arrived or is still in diapers. If your toddler is still in diapers, then there is no need to even think about potty training until you have settled into your new normal i.e 4-6 months down the road. With so much activity around the new baby, and a little sleep deprivation for you, it can be very hard to focus on a potty training a toddler.
If your child was potty trained before the new baby arrived, do not be surprised if you see a sudden increase in accidents. First, it is common for there to be some regression in any new skill that a child learns. Second, older siblings sometimes feel uneasy with the shift in the family dynamic and in an attempt to reclaim their status as baby, may regress in many ways, like wanting to be carried, asking for a pacifier, and having potty accidents. If this happens, do not get upset. A simple "Oh oh, let's clean that up and next time try to get to the potty," is all you need to say. If the accidents become frequent, it really is OK to go back to a diaper for a short while, until your toddler regroups. We don't want them to start to feel embarrassed or ashamed of their toileting capabilities.
In conclusion, remember that you are just in a moment. It may seem like total and complete chaos when you add a child to your family, but this too shall pass, and you will get into a new rhythm of life. And for Prince William and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, that will include one more Prince to hold while waving from the palace balcony.