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How to Include Your Toddler in Caring for the New Baby

Baby is here! Congratulations on your new arrival. This is an exciting time with lots of big changes for the whole family…especially your toddler. Right now, they’re starting to express their feelings, engage with people around them, and exercise their independence.1 This stage of development can make introducing a new sibling both fun and challenging.

A great way to help your little one adjust to this new phase of family life is to get them involved in caring for the new baby. Not only can this help smooth the transition to the new family dynamics, but it also helps to foster a wonderful sense of responsibility and nurturing behavior.

9 Practical Tips for Getting Your Toddler Involved with the New Baby

  1. Encourage Gentle Touch and Interaction
  2. Toddlers are naturally curious and may want to touch, hug, or hold their new sibling. Encourage gentle touch and interaction by showing them how to stroke the baby’s arm or cheek. Always supervise these moments to ensure the baby’s safety and guide your toddler in appropriate ways to engage. Explain the importance of being gentle and using soft touches to keep the baby comfortable and happy.

  3. Help Dress Baby
  4. Getting the baby dressed can be a fun task to do together with your toddler. Let them choose a onesie or grab the diaper and wipes. Lay out the baby’s clothes and encourage your toddler to help by handing the items to you while you dress the baby. If they’re up for it, you can even let them help fasten snaps or put on socks. This not only helps instill a sense of responsibility, but everyday routines like these that encourage small muscle movements can also enhance their fine motor skills and coordination.2

  5. Mealtime Support
  6. Mealtimes can be a great opportunity for your toddler to get in on the action. Depending on their age and ability, your toddler can help with simple tasks like fetching a burp cloth, getting a snack for you from the kitchen, or simply sitting close to you while you feed. You can also engage your toddler by asking them to help hold the bottle or encouraging them to talk or sing to baby while you feed. This helps them feel included and valued as an important member of the family.

  7. Play with Baby
  8. Tap into your toddler’s natural sense of fun as you encourage them to play and interact with baby in age-appropriate ways. Supervised playtime may include things like making funny faces, singing silly songs, telling stories, or playing peek-a-boo. As the baby grows, encourage your toddler to bring toys or engage in parallel play alongside the baby. This type of interaction gives them freedom to use their imagination, express their desires, and learn important social interactions.3

  9. Bath Time Bonding
  10. Bath time can be a delightful, shared experience between siblings. Involve your toddler by asking them to help you gather the necessary bath items, like a towel, washcloth, or baby soap. They can also help by handing you items during the bath, washing the baby’s feet, or singing a bath-time song to keep baby entertained. It’s a great opportunity to bond with the baby in a fun and nurturing way.

  11. Bedtime & Naptime Routines
  12. Getting your toddler involved in helping baby sleep or nap can be a valuable experience. Let them choose a blanket or stuffed animal for baby or softly sing a lullaby. They can also help create a calm and quiet environment by closing curtains or gently turning on a white noise machine.

  13. Encourage Your Toddler to Express Emotions
  14. The new addition of a baby into the family can evoke a range of emotions in a toddler. Encourage them to express their feelings by creating a safe and open environment for communication. Validate their emotions, provide reassurance, and listen attentively. Encourage healthy and age-appropriate coping mechanisms and physical outlets for their big feelings.4

  15. Don’t Push It
  16. Each child is unique and may have different levels of interest and readiness when it comes to helping with a new baby. While there are benefits to getting them involved, it’s equally important to respect their autonomy and not force them to participate if they’re not ready or willing. Let your toddler lead the way and show interest at their own pace. Remember, nurturing their bond is a journey that unfolds gradually, and respecting their boundaries and preferences is good for their emotional well-being.

  17. Celebrate Milestones and Achievements
  18. Acknowledge and celebrate your toddler’s efforts and achievements in caring for the baby. Praise and recognize their contributions, no matter how small. Whether it’s successfully retrieving a diaper or comforting baby with a gentle touch, make sure to show appreciation for their help. This positive reinforcement not only motivates them to continue being involved but can also boost their self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.

    Getting your toddler involved in taking care of the new baby can be a rewarding experience for the entire family. Remember to tailor the tasks to their developmental capabilities and always prioritize their safety and well-being. With patience, love, and guidance, you can create a harmonious and nurturing environment for both your toddler and new baby.


  1. MI Kids Matter – Social & Emotional Development Milestones for Toddlers (1-3 Years)
  2. NAPA Center – 35 Fine Motor Activities
  3. Healthline – 5 Ways Toddlers Benefit from Parallel Play
  4. Zero to Three – 24–36 Months: Social-Emotional Development
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