The First Three Months with a Toddler and Newborn

The First Three Months with a Toddler and Newborn

The transition to becoming a mother of two was a wonderful, chaotic, and emotional one. The first six weeks were a huge adjustment for all of us–especially for Paul. Paul has ADORED Chiara since the very first time he met her. He loves to hold her hand while they are nursing together; he loves to snuggle with her; he loves to play with her; and he loves to make her smile and laugh. At this point, all Chiara has to do is see Paul for her to smile and laugh. Their relationship is already so beautiful and so strong; and it is nurtured every day to ensure that their bond continues to grow stronger. Even though he has expressed so much love for her from the absolute beginning; the transition to becoming a big brother had a huge impact on my Paul Bear…

I found the first six weeks to be the most difficult. It was very apparent that Paul felt insecure. In a stage where he was now pushing for his independence and autonomy; he was now also struggling with feelings of insecurity. On top of bringing home a new baby, we were also preparing to do a big move out of state. These transitions caused Paul to behave in ways that tested everything that I had studied and practiced thus far in terms of early childhood development and behavior modification…

Paul’s insecurity caused him to nurse more frequently than a newborn–and trying to get him to take breaks resulted in tantrums and melt downs. He also started seeking negative attention since it was a definitive way to get us focused solely on him– and he started to bite, frequently. The way we were handling biting and hitting before Chiara was born was to place him on time out for one minute and then talk with him about the incident–the method worked as a space to provide a teachable moment to talk with him about why he was placed on time out; the words he could use instead of biting or hitting; a time to teach him emotional regulation; as well as a time to teach empathy. However, these behaviors occurred so frequently after Chiara came home that this method no longer provided us with a space for the teachable moments that it once did–and instead strengthened Paul’s insecurity. It was when his happy affect had seemed to diminish that we knew that we needed to take a different approach…

The first steps that we took was to stop putting him on time outs; heavily reinforce his positive behavior; and put all negative behavior on extinction– essentially, we did not provide any reaction to the behaviors that we were trying to eliminate. This caused his biting behavior to occur even more frequently because he was trying extra hard to elicit a response from us– but it was still placed on extinction. The goal was to set him up solely for success.

For nursing, I started using countdowns, which helped him to prepare for the fact that he was going to have to take a break from nursing; and I also provide reasons for the necessity for the the breaks to occur. Implementing this helped almost instantaneously. 

After we moved, we continued to implement these new techniques. In addition, I decided that it was time to encourage him to sleep without nursing for naps. I knew that this would be difficult at first, as prior to Chiara being born, nap time was the only time that he did nurse. To encourage this, we started to–and still do– nurse before we read stories before nap and he nurses again after nap. It took a few days for him to accept this, but he has been successfully napping for up to two hours a day going on two months now. It is an understatement when I say Paul’s favorite thing to do is to nurse; but he has become so much more patient and flexible about it. We have not had any nursing related tantrums in weeks and I do not foresee any occurring now that we have a system.

To eliminate biting took more adjustments and modifications as this behavior turned from an attention seeking behavior to an impulsive behavior. After settling into our new apartment, the frequency of his biting just naturally decreased. While the behavior of biting was occurring less frequently, it was still not eliminated. I decided to reintroduce his Ringley teether, and I made sure to have him bite on it during the times that his biting behavior was to most likely occur; which was when he was tired. Since biting is most likely to occur when he is tired, the two hours leading up to his nap time and the two hours leading up to his bed time are extremely structured. Between providing him an outlet to bite and ensuring a structured nap time and bed time routine, Paul’s inappropriate biting behavior has been seemingly eliminated.

At three months into parenting a toddler and newborn, things have become SO. MUCH. EASIER. As parents, we are constantly learning through trial and error and much reflection to achieve the ultimate goal of being the best parents that we could be to foster our child’s individual needs. We faced so many obstacles in the weeks following Chiara’s arrival, and after much effort, we’ve finally reached a state of equilibrium. This experience and overcoming these obstacles has brought our family so much closer together. In this exact moment, we are all in bliss. 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: