You thought your toddler would be super excited about the arrival of a new brother or sister. At least that’s how it seemed before bringing the new baby home! But lo and behold, their behavior suddenly changes the day they become a big sibling.
Your calm and understanding toddler starts throwing tantrums leaving you confused and overwhelmed. Let me tell you that toddler tantrums after bringing a new baby home are completely normal.
I know what you’re thinking. Knowing this doesn’t help you deal with it. Well, lucky for you, in this article, I’m going to talk about everything you need to know to deal with toddler tantrums.
How Do the Tantrums look like?
Toddler tantrums after bringing a new baby home might mean:
- Your toddler is crying for hours
- Yell at you
- Tell you that they hate you
- Want their new brother or sister to be sent back to the hospital
- Start to fight bedtime, wakes up crying or screaming at midnight, and wants to be rocked to sleep
- Get angry around their new sibling and expresses it by throwing things, kicking, biting, or breath holding
- Regress to baby-like behavior and keep asking for your help- for example, your potty-trained toddler might need diaper changes just like the baby, can’t find anything on their own, or can’t sleep without holding your hands.
However, toddlers decide to express their feelings simply because they’re feeling jealous, vulnerable, and a little left out.
How to Deal with Toddler Tantrums after Your New Baby Arrives
Punishments and timeouts can only do so much to manage tantrums. Here are 13 tactics and tips for dealing with toddler tantrums effectively. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Give it Some Time
It might sound cliche, but your toddler just needs some time to cope with this significant change in their family life. Don’t expect them to fall in love with their new sibling at first sight. Instead, give them enough time to get familiar with the baby.
The bond will come with time. Insisting your toddler loves the baby might make them act out even more.
Involve your Toddler As Much As Possible
Let your toddler play an active role in their baby brother or sister’s life. Involve them in caring for the baby. It’ll make them feel like an important person who is big enough to care for the little one.
Give your toddler special jobs. For example, they can fetch the nappies when the baby sibling needs a diaper change. Or they can help you bathe and dry the baby. Ask your toddler what color they think the baby should wear that day.
Pick that color to show them how much you value their opinion. When the baby cries, tell them to help you read a story or sing to the baby. Your toddler will love to weigh in and keep the new baby entertained.
Use Positive Discipline Techniques
Positive discipline means teaching your toddler what behavior is acceptable (and what isn’t) in a kind yet firm way. For example, how do you do that with a young child, you ask? Start with setting clear limits and follow through with consequences.
If your toddler tries to hit the baby or throws toys at them, take it away and say, ‘I won’t let you hit the baby. You can’t do that.’ Then use some distraction techniques and redirect them to show them how they should gently touch the baby instead.
Be Proactive and Prepared
If your toddler throws tantrums every time you breastfeed the newborn, it might be a trigger for them. They might even ask for a feed too. Explain that breastmilk is made especially for babies, and older siblings can have a special snack at that time.
It can be helpful to have a box of special toys handy and create a playlist of their favorite music, rhymes, or children’s stories for that time. For example, let your older daughter/son know that the special box can only be opened when the baby is feeding.
If this doesn’t work, the other parent can take the toddler out for a walk, read them a book or play with them when the mom is busy feeding the baby. Being prepared can help you stop the tantrums before they start.
Acknowledge and Validate Their Feelings
It’s normal for a toddler to go through a range of emotions about the change in the family dynamic. They’re having a hard time with the idea of sharing their mommy and daddy. They need to know that even though there’s a new baby in the picture, you still love them too.
Knowing that you are acknowledging their feelings and not dismissing them can make a big difference. So, when they express negative feelings toward their little sister or brother, try to be empathetic.
Hug them and say things like, ‘I understand how hard it can be being a big brother/sister. It looks like you’re feeling sad now. Do you want me to read you a story while I feed the baby?’
Spend One-on-one Time with Your Toddler
It might be challenging to carve out alone time for your older child. But getting your undivided attention, even for only a few minutes, can make your toddler feel secure and special.
You can spend time looking at their baby pictures together. Or reading stories about siblings getting along to help them adjust to the baby. Do something fun that your toddler loved to do with you before they had new siblings in their life.
It’ll make a difference and help your toddler manage sibling jealousy better.
Praise Your Older Children For Good Behavior
Acknowledge and praise the tiniest good gesture your kids make. For example, if your older child is being nice to their baby sister/ brother or tries to be helpful, you could say something like:
‘Little Eddie is fortunate to have you as a big brother’ or ‘You’re such a helpful big brother/sister.’ Positive reinforcements will encourage your toddler to minimize negative behaviors and repeat the good ones.
Tell Them How Much You Love Them
Sit with them and tell them what a sweet little girl/ boy they are and how much you love them. When a second child is stealing the spotlight, hearing things like, ‘I love you so much, can help your oldest child feel loved and stop fighting for attention all the time.
Control Your Anger
No matter how justified or well-deserved, the scolding is, hold it off. Don’t scream, yell or act out when they’re throwing yet another tantrum. Instead, it’ll give them the negative attention they’re desperately seeking.
Remind yourself that your kids aren’t doing it to irritate you or make your life harder than it already is. Instead, they’re simply testing the boundaries, checking if you’re still there for them or if the new baby took everything away.
It’s just a phase. Stay as calm as possible because your toddler learns to manage their big feelings by observing how you do it.
Make Them Feel Like a Priority
Every once in a while, try to attend to your toddler’s needs first because your newborn won’t remember crying for a few extra seconds. But your toddler will remember not being your number one, and it’ll be a meltdown city all over again.
It’s a great idea to tell your newborn something like, ‘Hang on, little one. I need to help your big brother/sister first. It will remind the toddler how important they still are to you, and they’ll slowly start to feel like they don’t have to push the limits indefinitely.
Don’t Make Any Major Changes
Your toddler’s whole world turned upside down once you brought the new baby home. Try not to make big lifestyle changes and stick to their regular schedule. It might be hard in the early weeks to keep the regular playdates, bedtime, and mealtime.
But doing so can be extremely helpful for your toddler to have more security and stability in their life. Also, hold off on making big changes, like moving them to a toddler bed or starting toilet training.
Let Them Be Themselves
It’d be great if your toddler accepted their new role without making a fuss. But let them be if they don’t willingly want to be involved with the baby. So many children try to cope with big changes by ignoring them.
So, don’t pressure your kids to chip in when they aren’t ready. Ignoring their baby brother or sister doesn’t mean they’d never bond. Your toddler will come around soon enough.
Help Them Process Their Big Feelings
Let your baby girl or boy indulge in drawing, music, dancing, imaginative play with puppets, or messy play as a way to manage and express their emotions. Play ‘name the feeling’ to teach them to label their feelings.
Sometimes they need a hug, and other times, physical activities like running around the block (after being cooped up all day) can help them get rid of all the pent-up energy.
There will be days when you’ll feel like you’ve ruined your toddler’s life while welcoming your new baby. I promise you it’s just a phase, and it’s TEMPORARY!
Your toddler will bond with the baby, and they’ll become best of friends before you know it.