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The arrival of a new brother or sister can be unnerving for a toddler. Especially after he has been used to having your undivided attention all this while. Some find it difficult to adjust while others accept the new arrival easily.
Here are 6 important ways to help your firstborn adjust to a new sibling that will certainly help the transition go as smooth as possible.
Preparing older children in advance and helping them feel included in the process right from the time you find out you’re pregnant with your second. Take the time to talk to your child about the new baby on the way. Let your child interact with your belly by talking to it, patting it. Have them feel the kicks and talk to the baby. Involve him in the process by letting him pick out things for the baby’s room, or discuss names together. When it’s time for birth, explain that the new baby will be coming home soon. Be honest with your older kid, and explain that the baby will sleep, eat, and cry most of the time, and won’t be a playmate right away, but will always look up to his older sibling for care & love.
Planning for 1:1 time with your older child is extremely important.
Although a lot of your focus will be on the new baby, especially in the new born stage, it’s important that your older child gets plenty of quality time with you as well.
Stagger your children’s schedules so that the baby goes to bed before your older child and you can enjoy some 1:1 time to reconnect at the end of the day.
Feed your baby in the living room while your older child plays next to you or have your baby nap in the stroller while you play with your older child outside.
Plan outings with your older child from time to time with just the two of you, so you can give them your undivided attention. It can be as simple as going to the park together or you might want to do something more adventurous like see a movie, go to the beach, have lunch out at a cafe or restaurant.
Let your firstborn help at home with a few chores. He could probably help fetch diapers or organise a new set of clothes or fetch blankets or bottles for you. When the baby cries, ask him to gently pat baby’s back or talk softly to them. If he wants to hold the new sibling, set him up next to you and share the baby across your laps. He will surely feel proud to be given some new responsibilities.
Toddlers are creatures of habit. Practice routines like reading them a bedtime story or eating your usual breakfast together. Participation in routines like reading or storytelling are associated with higher social and emotional school readiness among preschool-age children. Going to playgroup, visiting friends, and telling a bedtime story might be difficult to organise in the first few weeks. But sticking to established routines will help reassure your toddler.
Make sure you praise the help your older child gives you. Whenever you see the older child touching the baby gently, make a positive comment. Make a big fuss about the important "older brother/ older Sister." Increase your little demonstrations of love for your child. Hug and kiss your older child and tell him how proud you are of them. Also, it is essential to avoid comparing siblings, even about seemingly innocent topics such as birth weight, when each first crawled or walked, or who had more hair. Children can interpret these comments as criticisms.
When your older child acts out, try to keep in mind that everything in the toddler’s little world has just changed. They do this both for attention and to see if the boundaries have remained the same while everything else was changing. It’s key for a mother to stay calm and stay consistent. It is hard to be consistent while also tending to the needs of a new born but this will help in the long run.
So, there you have it, our top tips to help your toddler or older child adjust to the idea of having a new sibling. We hope these strategies help to make bringing home your new baby an exciting and enjoyable experience for the whole family.