When my newborn son was just 2-weeks-old, his 2-year-old sister simultaneously brought home a nasty cold from daycare and discovered her little brother's stash of pacifiers. Cue a week-long marathon of me scurrying after the 2-year-old, trying to steal back the pacifiers and quickly sanitize them before sticking them back into my newborn son's mouth. I really should have put a little thought into how to keep a toddler from stealing a newborn's pacifier before I was knee-deep in crisis mode, but the good news is that everyone survived that week's germ-infested mess. Sure, I probably shaved a few years off my life, but with the amount of sleep I'm getting that was inevitable, anyway.
Little did I know, there are many strategies for keeping your toddler from stealing your newborn's pacifier, but the bottom line is as follows, according to BabyCenter: unless your toddler is sick and risks passing germs to the new baby, ignoring the "problem" might be your best bet. Or at least your least exhausting one.
Another tactic for keeping your toddler from stealing your newborn's pacifier is to offer your toddler what can only be described as a "nicer" options, according to Janet Lansbury, author of No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame and Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting. For instance, you can grab a new pack of shinier pacifiers at Target and offer those to your toddler when you notice them eyeing your newborn's. Your newborn won't know the difference, but your toddler might be tempted by a pacifier with an animal or a brightly covered pattern that somehow makes this particular pacifier "new" and exciting and, well, cooler than whatever their younger sibling is enjoying.
If your toddler is anything like mine, he or she hasn't used a pacifier in a while and, as a result, don't really keep pacifiers in their mouths for an extended period of time. So having another pacifier for your toddler to play with probably won't send them back to their newborn days. However, What To Expect does remind parents that toddler regression is a thing, and your oldest can regress to babyhood because they have conflicting feelings about growing up and becoming separate from you, feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by a developmental milestone, or is a reaction to a stressful situation like the arrival of a new sibling, starting preschool, or tension at home. If you're worried about your toddler regressing to the point that they require a pacifier, you can always tempt them with another item, like a new sippy cup or lovie.
It's important to keep in mind that for your toddler, having a new sibling can be an ongoing adjustment. He or she can feel jealous of the new sibling in waves during the first several months of the new baby's life. One parent's solution to the pacifier thievery, found on a Yahoo Parent forum, was to focus on helping the older child feel special and grown up (like taking them for a special outing), therefore lessening the need for drawing attention by stealing a sibling's pacifier.
There are other ways you can help mitigate the jealousy your older child might feel as your bring a new baby home, too. Parents recommends setting expectations accurately for your older child and explaining that his or her new sibling won't be a true playmate for a little while. Instead, explain what a newborn baby is all about, and include your older child in some of the more age-appropriate duties of taking care of the new sibling.
Parents also suggests not always ditching your toddler when your new baby needs something. When possible, show your older child that the baby doesn't always come first. If you can demonstrate that your new baby has to wait his or her turn, just like your older child does, he or she might be just a little more patient (or as patient as a toddler can be) while you change the baby's diaper or start that next feeding.
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