For as long as your toddler can remember, they’ve had your undivided attention. Soon though, there’s about to be a new baby in town and you’re not 100% sure how they’re going to take it…
When I fell pregnant with Coco, I wanted to make sure I prepared Minnie for her arrival as soon as my bump became a bit more apparent. Luckily, Minnie accepted Coco from day one, but we did spend a lot of time doing research on how to ensure that feelings of jealousy were kept to a minimum.
All children are different, so you can never predict with 100% accuracy how they’re going to react to a new brother or sister. But there are things you can do to ease the transition from being the only child in the family to being one of two (or more)!
Here are a few tips that we found really worked for us, as well as gems of advice we took from friends and our own parents.
- Introduce your toddler to their new brother or sister early on. Before your little one notices that you’re growing a bump, take some time to sit down with them to explain that they have a baby brother or sister on the way. Tell them that a sibling is a special gift, ensuring you communicate how much their new baby brother or sister is going to love them and look up to them.
- If you had brothers or sisters yourself, tell positive stories of your relationship and the time you shared growing up. Your toddler will associate having a brother or sister with positive experiences and look forward to having a sibling of their very own!
- Make sure your little one understands that they’ll have a very special role in the new baby’s life. Ask your toddler to read the baby stories (even before it’s born) or talk to it. Tell them how nice it must feel for the baby to know they have a brother or sister waiting for them and looking out for them when they come out into the world!
- If your toddler is at the right age, introduce them to kindergarten before the baby arrives. This will ensure they don’t feel as though they’ve been banished once a new baby has come along. They’ll get to enjoy meeting new friends and having new experiences themselves.
- Too much change at once is hard for anyone to deal with, especially for a very young child. If your toddler has their own routines and activities, stick to them as much as possible to ensure minimal upheaval.
- Celebrate the baby’s arrival with gifts not just for the baby, but for your current child too. This way they will feel just as important as the new baby and very much included in the celebrations.
- Allow your toddler to sit and hold the new baby as you supervise. Praise them for being so good with the baby, making sure that every effort they make is positively reinforced. If they make a mistake, try not to tell them off or make them feel bad, instead correct them gently and show them how to handle a baby and take care of their brother or sister.
- Ask friends and family who visit to also make a fuss of your toddler and tell them what a wonderful brother or sister they are. Invite your toddler to tell your guests about the baby, giving them a protective and involved role that makes them feel important.
- If there’s a way of distracting your toddler during feeding time, this could help make sure you get the the quiet time you need to sit down with your baby!
- Try to spend quality time with just your toddler. The demands of a new baby can be all consuming, but if you can take some time out in the day - even for 30 minutes to half an hour to spend focussing on your toddler, this undivided attention won’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.
- Lastly, be prepared that your toddler might not react to the new baby in the way you want or imagined. Sometimes, no matter how much you try and prepare your older child for a new baby, they might not take to the arrival of a brother or sister very well. They might be disinterested, get upset or feel jealous despite your best efforts. Every minor upset can seem like a huge deal to a toddler so just be patient, eventually they’ll get used to the idea!
Are there any tips you want to share about how you helped your toddler prepare for a new baby in the house? We’d love to know! @ us on Twitter/Instagram with your story!