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How to help a toddler cope with a newborn in the house

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Last week Haddie welcomed home her first little brother. Yes, if you don’t follow me on Instagram: we had a baby boy!!!!!!!

And then there was FOUR, plus one @schnitzelthedog. #ZevIzzy

A post shared by Matthew Slutsky (@islutsky) on

For the past 16 months Haddie has been the centre of our lives and attention,* and this was obviously a huge change for her. Being only 16 months old, she doesn’t have the words yet to express her emotions, and doesn’t fully understand us when we try to explain to her what is happening. But, she knows that there are big changes.

She has had her ups and downs, and occasionally throws the biggest tantrums that we’ve ever seen.

While she doesn’t know what to make of the baby, she still has her love for Scnitzel!

We knew that this would be hard for her, and during these changes we’ve tried a whole bunch of things to help her cope with the adjustments. We are only one week into our lives with our larger family, and I am certain that there are a lot more tricks that we will need to learn along the way. But, so far we’ve come up with a few pointers for anyone else expecting a baby when you’ve got a very young toddler at home!

Here’s what we’ve done – please feel free to share any tips in the comments:

  • We made sure that Haddie was home when we brought Zev home from the hospital.
  • Once the baby was born, and everyone was comfortable in the hospital, we brought Haddie down to the hospital to meet her new brother.
  • While we were at the hospital, I ran home to try to keep Haddie’s routine normal – I made sure that I was home for bathing and putting her to sleep.
  • We try to include Haddie in helping us with Zev as much as possible. As an example, if are changing him, we ask Haddie to bring us the diaper.
  • Haddie had a really hard time when she saw Zev eating his bottles. At first we were going to take him to a different room to feed him, but then we decided that it would be best she just got used to seeing it.
  • I took the first week off, and spent most of it with Haddie, ensuring that she had maximum attention. This has been a double edged sword, while it has worked well for ensure Haddie feels loved, it has backfired in that she now doesn’t like when I hold the new baby, and thinks that mom is a traitor to the family for caring for the new baby all the time.**
  • When people come to visit, we make sure they give Haddie all the attention, and only meet Zev when she is not looking.
If baby gets a bottle from Daddy, then Haddie needs a bottle too!

Someone recently said to us: imagine how your wife would feel if you came home one day with a new lady, and told your wife that she was going to be living at our house indefinitely. Ouch. Of course, your little one is going to have issues with a new baby coming into the house, but with time they will grow to love and cherish each other, and hopefully become best friends with time.

Notes:
* Sorry Schnitzel – I hate to admit it, but it is true. You were our first born, and ruled the nest for many years. When Haddie entered the world, you became number 2. Now you are sitting in the Number 3 spot in our lives.

** No joke – this can be a real emotional rollercoaster for moms. Beware!

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