A new baby is an exciting time for the whole family, but older siblings can have a tough time with the change. Your little one may be nervous about the baby or beginning to get excited for a new friend but there is no way to know exactly how they will react to a new arrival. To help you manage these important early moments, there are small steps you can take as a parent to ensure that your toddler continues to feel supported and loved through this big change in their little life.
Bring them on the journey
As your pregnancy progresses, start to involve your toddler in important pregnancy milestones. If this is comfortable for you, let your little one cuddle and talk to your belly and chat to them about what is happening with the baby in your tummy.
Use a doll to teach your child to care for a baby, what they need and how to play with them; they can even practise pushing the doll around in its own wooden pram. After the baby arrives, encourage your toddler to mimic how you care for your newborn with their doll as their own baby.
Arrange a meet-cute
Before you introduce your toddler to your new baby, decide where and when will be best for them in this moment.
While your instinct may be to introduce them in the hospital, seeing you in a bed with wires and beeps may make them anxious.
For a more relaxed meeting, wait until you are all home together as a family, where your child is calm, relaxed and in their routine.
Present your newborn in a neutral setting, like a Sleepyhead baby bed, rather than in your arms. This will help your toddler to feel safe and secure that this new little person is not here to steal away your love and attention.
Encourage your toddler’s attachment to their new little sibling with matching items such as a robe that they can each wear when they cuddle.
As a parent, you know that the words delicate and toddler are rarely used together. At such a young age, your child is still learning how strong their little body actually is.
As you care for your newborn, show your toddler how to be gentle and to treat the baby with the same care that you do with them. At bedtime, invite them to tuck the baby in with a special new blanket.
Let your toddler decide when they are ready for the first cuddle and give them a small gift to give to the baby. Choose a gift like this cream bear comforter, that will help to soothe their new little sibling every day.
Above all, stay positive and patient: as your children grow older, their bond as siblings will only grow stronger.
In this exciting time where your new baby takes centre stage, it can be tempting to give your toddler more freedom throughout the day. Instead, it is better to keep their normal routine going in order to establish their sibling as a new addition to their life, not a disruption.
Keep the same wake-up, bath and bedtime routine and (if they are going) take them to nursery or school as usual. Let your toddler know that they are still as important to you as ever.
During feed times, your toddler is more likely to play up to seek attention.
Distract them with a special new wooden toy that will both entertain and educate them while you are busy.
Choose your words
When you talk to your toddler about the new arrival, focus on themes of family and togetherness. Say ‘our baby’, ‘our family’ and ‘your little sibling’ to help them to understand that this baby brings even more love into your home, rather than taking it away from them. Be patient with your toddler and keep the conversation going as they continue to adapt and accept this big change in their little world.
If you are reading this and expecting a new arrival to your family, congratulations! We wish you the best as you welcome a new bundle of joy and we hope that these tips and ideas will help to make the transition from 1 to 2 as smooth as possible.
My 1st Years x