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A tip to help prevent toddler meltdowns when baby #2 comes along

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The most common age a toddler becomes a sibling is around two or three, which also happens to coincide with some major developmental changes, such as learning to manage really big feelings.

So it’s not uncommon for things to fall off the rails a bit if baby number two arrives around this time. 

But it doesn’t have to a time of emotional turmoil and upsets. 

Dr Golly is a Melbourne-based paediatrician and father of three who specialises in unsettled babies and poor sleep. He says “cross parenting” is a method parents can use to completely prevent massive behaviour deterioration in a toddler when a new sibling arrives.


Speaking to Today, Dr Golly says: “Cross parenting is shaking up an assumed approach when the second or third baby arrives. 

“There’s this very common or almost guaranteed scenario that when the baby turns 3 months, the toddler has a massive behaviour deterioration. We see it all the time. 

“Cross parenting is a method to completely prevent that deterioration simply by having dads [or partners] more involved. And switching the rational assumption that it’s the breastfeeding mother who has to do everything when it comes to the newborn.”

So when dad (or the non-birth parent) gets more involved in the newborn routine, it leaves mum with more time to spend with her toddler – therefore reassuring them that they’re still important, and oh so loved.

Sleeping through the night

When dad is more involved with the newborn, mum will have more time to spend with the toddler. Even better, Dr Golly says, a newborn is more likely to sleep better when dad does the settling. 

“We know there’s a lot of evidence to support the fact that when fathers are more involved with a newborn that baby is going to get closer to sleeping through the night earlier, and that benefits the entire family,” he says. 

“Dads convey a strong message to a baby that they’re not going to be fed, so they’re going to have more luck with settling… It’s about getting dads involved in the settling.”

If mum is breastfeeding, then obviously that part of newborn life is reserved for her.

But as Dr Golly says, “There’s nothing else a dad can’t do.”

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