For many families with a toddler, bringing home a second baby is not the easiest of transitions. In many ways, the toddler still feels like the baby, and is not quite ready to give up that throne to someone else. There is a whole spectrum of reactions that an older sibling might have when being introduced to the new baby. Some are practical, having to do with figuring out where their new place is in the family hierarchy, while others can simply be described as creepy things toddlers do when they meet their sibling for the first time.
Looking back on how hard those early days were, I'm amazed we got through it all. I am even more in awe of the beautiful bond and close relationship my two boys have now. I could never have imagined how two children that seemed so far apart from each other in learning stages and ages, could be able to have so much fun together and love being with one another now.
The thing is, though, the beginning is so incredibly hard. Then again, I think giving your child a sibling is the greatest gift they don't know they were capable of getting. However, until the day they realize what a joy it is to have a sibling, your toddler might experiment with a few of these creepy behaviors first:
They Go For The Eyes First
My 2-year-old son was obsessed with his baby brother's eyes right after he was born. I have no idea why, but I have heard this is a thing. Even when he was visiting us in the hospital, he loved pointing to the baby's eyes and practically shoving his fingers into them while saying "eyes," like he had discovered eyes on a human being for the very first time.
When we got home, I had to keep on constant high alert any time my toddler was on floor-level.
They Ask What Their New Sibling Brought Them As A Present
Anytime my son is told he has done a good job at something new, he expects a present. So when we told him how proud we were of him having become a big brother, his response was basically, "That's nice, what did this new baby get for me?" What did he think, that there was like, a toy store inside my womb? Or a clown who shapes balloons into Dachshunds hanging out near the exit of my vaginal canal?
OK, fine, he had no idea where babies come from, nor the fact that my baby came out of my belly via c-section. Still, his logic was straight-up creepy.
They Openly Wonder When Their Sibling Will Be "Going Away"
After the initial novelty of the new baby coming home has worn off, a sibling may begin to wonder, as my son did, "OK, so when is he gonna go back to his parents?"
I hadn't considered that my son would think that our new baby's residency in our home was only temporary. Eye-poking aside, my toddler was generally pleasant and welcoming to his baby brother. But when he asked me when this new baby was going to be leaving us, I realized that his generosity stemmed from a belief that the baby was not taking up any permanent space in our family. Boy, was he surprised when we told him the truth. That's when his attitude made a complete 180.
They Try To Nurse Again (Even Though They'd Weaned A Long Time Ago)
Once my toddler realized that the baby was not just a houseguest, he started to really go off the rails. One day I was nursing my baby, and my toddler leaned in and said, "My turn," demanding to nurse, too. I didn't know what to do. We had long been done with nursing. In the moment I acquiesced and said to myself, "Let's not make this weird," and told him to go ahead. He ended up not following through. He had merely been testing me to see if I would be willing to do the same things for him as I was doing for the baby. Well? See? I showed him.
They Surprise You In The Dark In The Middle Of The Night
My toddler had been sleeping through the night until his brother came home from the hospital. Then, he heard that there was a 2 a.m., and 4 a.m., and 6 a.m. party going on, and wanted to join in the fun. But you know what's not fun, like, objectively? When I was on the couch in the pitch dark, nursing my baby and passing out at the same time, only to be startled awake by a "presence" in the room and seeing a slim, short shadow silently hovering in front of me. As a horror-movie fan, I was convinced each time it was the sad ghost of some little boy in our apartment, and not the more obvious answer (i.e. my own child).
They Deliberately Whack The Baby
Why must they attack and torture the baby? Why? I'd be washing a bottle, or grabbing a swaddle, and my baby who had been quiet mere seconds ago would erupt into a tortured wail. "What just happened?" I'd ask. There would be my toddler, standing there red-handed, holding one of his more unwieldy toys that lights up and plays music. I came in and the look on his face was like, "I was just showing the baby this froggy."
I would know better.
They Seem To Undergo A Complete Personality Shift
I swear my toddler was not a sociopath before his brother was born. He had his issues, sure, but he was not the kind of kid that would haunt your nightmares like those quiet ones you see in horror movies that all the characters say is "just a nice, misunderstood boy," then halfway through he starts chopping his parents up into tiny little pieces.
For a brief period after we had our second child, my first-born would rage against bedtime every night, screaming and banging against his door after we had tried to put him to bed for over two hours. He refused almost everything we tried to feed him. He said no to everything. In a word, he seemed like a monster.
They Ask For A "Different Baby"
Then, there was this brief period when my toddler didn't seem so unhappy about having a baby around, it was just that he didn't like this particular baby. "Can we get a different one?" he'd ask, on more than one occasion. I tried to imagine what that might look like, where a woman could just exchange the baby she'd given birth to for a different one.
"Oh, yeah, this thing I'd created and carried for over nine months isn't working for me. I'll take one with female parts instead, and preferably blonde hair. Thanks."