13 answers

20 Month Old and New Baby...

My husband and I are expecting our second daughter in just shy of two months. At the time of her birth, our oldest will be 20 months old. Throughout this entire pregnancy there have been many changes in our lives, we relocated across the country (away from our families), new school for my daughter, I'm currently not working, new job/hours/responsibilities for my husband. The list seems endless. I've had a lot of anxiety about this pregnancy, which I've been told is quite normal, yet I'm still having a hard time coping with the inevitable changes that are just around the corner. I am a planner by nature and have found it difficult to plan for what's to come.

I'm looking for some reading material on introducing our daughter to her new sister. Most of what I've found focuses on preschool aged children. I need some direction on how to incorporate my toddler into this new dynamic. She LOVES babies, both dolls and humans :0). I have a young niece whom she adores. She's a big helper already, a great listener, she genuinely WANTS to be a help, and is quite independent. I don't want her to get lost in the shuffle. She's already in her own bedroom, in a twin bed, and has been for months. (trying to avoid feeling replaced!) She is currently showing an interest in potty training, but I'm afraid to embark on this milestone now for fear that she'll regress once the baby is born. Like I said, she's very independent and has always let us know when she's ready for the next step (as in the bed) and I don't want to discourage this.

I suppose this is just fear of the unknown. I hope. Any recommendations for materials for my daughter (she loves books) or for me would be greatly appreciated. Or if you have any recommendations that worked for you in the past, I'm all ears. I'm not afraid to ask for help when I need it...and right now, I need it!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Hi D.-
I have not read any of the other responses, sorry. I was super nervous/anxious when I had my 2nd baby. My 1st daughter was 26months when her baby sister was born. I had a gift waiting at the hospital from the baby to my older daughter (it was a big minnie mouse doll, who was her favorite at the time)...and then included her in everything. We also gave her some space too. We also kept her schedule as "normal" as possible, and also had mommy older daughter dates (and daddy older daughter dates) to give her some "alone" time with mommy and/or daddy.
Everything was great!
Good Luck to you!!!!

More Answers

Hi, my two exactly 20 months to the day apart. The whole pregnancy I told my son there was a baby in my belly and it was gonna be his new baby sister or brother. He would kiss my belly and love it the entire time. It was so cute. We actually had to do nothing special he just adapted great with his new sister. I mean there were hiccups along the way. Like he could be a bit rough and it was hard to explain to a toddler why he couldn't ram into the baby or mush her tightly. He was the best new big brother. Just trust in your first born she'll make you proud. And just remind her how much you love her every day. Good luck it is awesome to have them close together. My two are best friends at 1 1/2 and 3 years old.

1 mom found this helpful

Look at the library in the parenting section. You'll find books for you and for your toddler about this situation.

My daughter was 24 months when my baby was born. We talked about the baby coming, she helped me fold and put away the baby clothes. What worked best was we watched birthing videos on YouTube (which she LOVED to watch), and we'd look for the moment where the "baby comes out". She would get very excited and it seemed to really help her understand that the baby in mommy was going to come out and be an actual baby. Then, we had her at the birth - she was a little scared when I was pushing so my mom took her out of the room and brought her back in as soon as the baby was born. We were in a tub and she immediately peeled off her clothes and climbed in the tub with us. Her first words were "baby came out of mommy!". She was totally excited and now baby is six months and she has, from day one, realized that this was a permanent and wonderful change to our family. Biologically, families are designed to have multiple children and thus we're hard-wired, even as small children, to be accepting of this change. It's a transition and there may be some difficult moments, but overall it works out beautifully. Good luck!

Hi D.,
I'm also expecting our second baby in July and my boy will be 23 months...a little older than your girl but I too have the same fears as you! Two of my friends just had their 2nd babies and everything is going great for them -- they often reassure me that everything is easier than they though it would be. For instance, you've been through the whole newborn stage so you know what to expect and you'll be more cool and collected this time around. No doubt there will be some transition time for your toddler but I think if you try and keep them on their own schedule without introducing anything brand new (potty training) -- I think she will adjust better than you think!
I'm also in Naperville so if you need a friend send me a message!! As I said, I'm in the same boat as you and I'm hoping adding baby 2 to our lives is easier than I think it will be!
Take care!!

When my third was a newborn, my two older ones , 4 and 1 1/2, were gathered around her. The older one wanted the baby to look at the middle one, so she took her head and started to tuuuurn it.......I yelled NOOOOOO in time and it was fine. But don't let the older one crank her head to try to lift her up by the head :)

You've been through a lot, but siblings are one of nature's constants. It will be fine. Just keep loving your older one and include her, she'll do great. She's not having the same trepidations and fear of non planning you are, she's just along minute by minute for the ride. She'll like any book at that age! Just pick books you and she will enjoy. It's being together that counts.

I was in almost the same boat as you except we didn't relocate across country - but we did move, change jobs, different schedules, care givers etc....and it all worked out great! My daughter was also very independant, and she adjusted marvelously - she loves to help, even now, and I don't think that she has ever felt slighted. Before the baby was born, we would play with dolls, and I would talk to her about "gentle" with the dolls, and we would "love the baby" and gently hug and rub the back of the doll. She did GREAT when we brought the baby home - I htink the hardest part was when I was in the hospital and the hospital didn't allow kids except betweent he hours of 4 - 6 - so I hardly got to see her while I was in the hospital. Now the two of them play together, and my older daughter is always doing funny little things to make the baby laugh. My sitter told me that when I took the baby to the Dr. the other day that my older baby was looking all over the house for her and calling her name! LOL - I also didn't ever make her be quiet when the baby was sleeping etc. I wanted her to still feel like things were "normal" - I didn't change her schedule, I worked the babies schedule around so that she wouldn't be negatively affected by the baby coming. You will figure it out and make it work! I was worried too, I think it is normal to be worried - you sound like a wonderful mother, so relax, all will work itself out!!

My two boys are about 20.5 mths apart. The only thing I did to prepare my son for his new brother coming was set out all the baby stuff about 2-3 months prior to my son arriving. The bassinet, swing, car seat, bouncer etc. I tried reading him books, but he more interested in his trains & cars and didn't really care about the baby books. I think this helped tremendously in him not wanting to be all up in the baby's stuff when he finally arrived. He also went through some regression prior to the baby being there, which was a lot easier to deal with just him, as opposed to with the baby home too! He wanted to sleep in the bassinet ( I let him to an extent), he pushed his baby in the swing all that good stuff. And then once his brother came it was no biggy!

As for books, we did find those that are geared towards being a "big brother/big sister" were more appeasing to him. There is also a series "Daddy's are for..Mommy's are for...Brothers are for etc". I can't remember the author but he really liked those books:)

Like your daughter my oldest LOVES LOVES LOVES babies. Even to this day he can't keep his hands off of them. I find it funny that whenever we are out at a park or whatever he's running up to the babies & those kids his brother's age, but has no concept that his brother is the exact same thing--a baby.

He had absolutely no resentment when his brother came home. In fact, I have the opposite problem, he wanted to hold cuddle, feed , just always wanting to be in his brothers face. I had such a hard time with this because I didn't want to punish him for showing affection and being genuinely loving to his brother....Unfortunately, his brother HATES it.

To this day this is my number one battle between the two of them. Oldest wants to give kisses, youngest wants him off. Everyone else says its so sweet and encourages it while I'm trying to work on 'personal' space.

Although its hard in those first 6 months I found myself to be at such an advantage having them this close together in age. I found the sibling jealousy/rivalry with bringing someone new home to be non existent. I sure hope you also find that to be true!

Congratulations!

Hi D.-
I have not read any of the other responses, sorry. I was super nervous/anxious when I had my 2nd baby. My 1st daughter was 26months when her baby sister was born. I had a gift waiting at the hospital from the baby to my older daughter (it was a big minnie mouse doll, who was her favorite at the time)...and then included her in everything. We also gave her some space too. We also kept her schedule as "normal" as possible, and also had mommy older daughter dates (and daddy older daughter dates) to give her some "alone" time with mommy and/or daddy.
Everything was great!
Good Luck to you!!!!

Hi D.,

My daughters are 15 months apart (17 months and 2 months right now). Its important to remember that kids are increadibly resilient and much better able to deal with change than adults are. I'm not saying that you (and she) won't have difficult days sometimes dealing with a new addition, but it might come more naturally than you think. I'm not sure you can really prepare a toddler for this kind of change. Although you can talk about it with them and practice with a baby doll, they don't truly understand the change that is going to take place. It sounds like you are a smart, thoughtful parent and as long as you are spending time with both of them, you are doing fine!

Don't worry! I bet things will go smoother than you think. You sound like me, I want to be prepared and I always prepare myself for the worst so that I'll be surprised when things go well! Your daughter also sounds a L. like mine, independent, knows what she wants. My daughter was also 20 months when my son was born. I didn't even begin to go there with the potty training thing. I had a potty seat and if she wanted to go on it, I encouraged her, but I basically didn't say too much about it. I knew that once the baby was born, I wouldn't be able to give my daughter as much attention on that end as she deserved and luckily, she wasn't truly ready anyway. She is now 3 and for the past month has been completely potty trained (diaper at night though).

I would just talk with my daughter about the baby in my belly and let her help us get the nursery together by letting her put clothes in the drawers and put diapers in bins, etc. We asked her opinion on names, just basically made her feel like she had a say in our her new brothers future! Once he was born, I let her help as much as possible and I always asked her if she wanted to help instead of expecting her to help. While I was nursing my son, I would tell her to go and get some books and I would read to her while I nursed.

My biggest challenge was getting her to stay quiet while I was trying to get my son down for naps and bedtime. She just wanted to be in the room with me but didn't know how to play quietly. Instead of getting irritated with her, I just gave up and let her play. My son either wasn't bothered by her or just got used to her noise (he was going to have to get used to the noise anyway!)

The only time I got worried about my daughter adjusting was when she came into the hospital to see me. I made sure that I put my son into the bassinet so that I could immediately hug her and show her her new brother. Well, when my husband brought her into the room, she stopped at the door, stared at me for a second, burst into tears and ran away!! I guess she wasn't expecting to see me or something, I don't know. My husband ran after her and walked around the hospital for about 20 minutes until she was ready to come in. When she did come back I just let her get acclimated first and let her come to me. I spent some time with her and then asked her if she wanted to see her brother and things were fine from there. She did incredibly well at home with daddy, I'm a SAHM so I thought there might be a problem there since she was used to being with me so much. I am lucky in that my daughter is one of the most easy going kids I have ever known. She adjusts so well to everything and I admire that quality in her so much. I hope she keeps that forever. The bottom line it, just let your daughter be her own person and don't push her. Ask for her help and let her come to you.

Oh, one more big thing!! Work very hard to get the kids to nap at the same time!!!! I know for the first few months that is impossible, but once your baby is older and on a more predictible schedule you will cherish that time so much. My son is now 19 months and my daughter is 3 and every day, I have 2-3 hours ALL TO MYSELF!!! WOOO-HOOO!!!!!

Congratulations to you and don't stress, you have enough to worry about! Sorry this is so long!!!! : )

I just gave birth to a baby 2 weeks ago. She is 22 months apart from her big brother. Your daughter sounds like she has the same characteristics as my son as far as being independent and wanting to be a help.

I wouldn't worry too much because regression is normal. My son sometimes wants to be changed because he sees his baby sister getting changed. He also sometimes cries because he sees his little sister being picked up when she cries.

My husband took a couple weeks off and it was very helpful because he was able to spend time exclusively with my older son while I took care of the newborn and recovered. I think taking him out during the day has helped a lot.

2 months is a while to be potty trained. I say go for it if she really wants to and you are up for it, but be prepared for her to go back to diapers as most books might say.

Some other things people suggested were wrapping a couple of shoe boxes and putting old toys or tissue paper in them while I feed, so it looks like a new present. Also reading to the older child while you feed may help. Try to give constant praise to your older child when she helps or is behaving well. I think that helps because he notices I'm paying attention to him.

Hi, D., I'll try not to repeat too much of what has already been said.

Here's what we did...

We spent a lot of time talking about 'our' baby. The new baby was the family's baby. We wanted our son to understand that he was part of something bigger...not that the world should/would revolve around him always. Don't get me wrong, he's very important to us!

When my sister had her 2nd child, they spent a lot of time saying things like, "We can't do this because it will hurt your sister," and "Wouldn't you like to do ____ for your sister?" and "You need to give up your paci to your new sister," etc. This was NOT effective at all...The poor child was so resentful of his little sister by the time she got here that the transition was not good at all. I'm not saying that you can't do some of this...you'll naturally say some of these things, but be aware of how statements like these can affect your oldest child.

I had a small present ready at the hospital to give to my oldest child "from the baby." My 3 year old still talks about the bathtub cars that my 1 year old gave him. It helped to make him feel special at a time when everyone was focused on the new baby.

One last thing about the potty training. If your daughter is showing an interest in potty training now, then DO IT! Sometimes the biggest challenge in potty training is getting the child to buy in to it. You've got 2 months to get a good start on things. If you're busy now, then imagine how much time you'll have to train with 2 kiddos. We trained about 3 months before our 2nd child was born, and had no problems with him regressing. I was SO glad to have that done, because those first months with any new baby are exhausting!

Hope this helps...you'll do great!

I do not see anything in your letter that describes a problem with your current daughter, nor her adaptation to another one on the way. I think the problem lies entirely with your anticipation of problems. Was the pregnancy unexpected, that explains it. If not, then you should just try to understand that everything is going the way it is supposed to. If your daughter backslides with potty training, sleeping in her own bed, then that is perfectly natural. One sure way of avoiding some of these problems is to be a good example with the baby. Don't bring the baby into your bed to sleep, this shows your daughter that everyone has their own bed "including baby". When changing the new baby, include your daughter in the process, "honey could you get mommy a clean diaper?". At the same time, explaining what a big girl she is, and how proud of her you are that she is no longer a baby, with these smelly yucky diapers. Be light and humorous, and she will feel proud to be the big sister.

Just try to relax and enjoy this time, ups and downs and all. You only have one chance to do it well, or as well as possible. No parent has all the answers, and it's best to follow your own instincts, and parent with love, all the rest will follow as it is supposed to. There's no book out there that can teach you how do it.

Cave people didn't have books, and look how we've evolved! Sometimes we let our perfectionism get in the way of doing what we instinctively know is right. Fear of the unknown, is the perfect setting for experiencing some of the most fun, delightful, exciting little things, "that we will always remember".

You know how the sidekick sets up the scenario for the comedien, and the joke is much more hilarious? That's our job, set up the scenario for our little ones to be themselves. How boring, if we tried to control all their natural talents and abilities. ENJOY!!!

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