Face The Biggest Struggle Head On –
One of the biggest fears new parents face is wondering how their older child will react to a newborn sibling. Here are some ways to smoothly transition, starting before baby is born, so that your toddler doesn’t feel neglected or resent the new one!
Simple Tactics To Help Your Child Accept And Adore Their Newest Family Member
For us, we had twins show up when our first was turning 4. We did have some crisis because twins require everything. And I mean Every. Thing. You’ve. Got. But we minimized the crisis and got through with mostly good attitudes and with him still thinking they were pretty great. 😉
1.Give Them Significance By Including Them In Newborn Care
To you it’s just another diaper. To her, she’s your superhero for helping you with baby.
Even a 16-18 month old can have tiny tasks that let them walk through the day by your side. Teaching them to gently wipe drool from the corner of their new sister’s mouth, or to bring you the baby wipes may seem insignificant, but letting a toddler have that active part in the care process keeps them feeling valid and needed.
Tasks that are toddler appropriate include:
- Fetching diapers or wipes.
- Bringing a clean blanket or burp cloth from a low drawer.
- Rocking an infant seat or baby rocker.
- Singing a song to soothe the newborn.
- Patting the baby’s back to help with burping.
- Wiping drool off of the baby’s face.
- Helping with bath time.
- Bringing mommy her water bottle.
Even tiny tasks, depending on the age of the toddler, should be praised and thanked with a lot of “what a big helper!” type comments.
2.Don’t Speak The Predicted Emotional Reactions Into Their Lives
Your toddler may or may not feel displaced. They certainly wouldn’t know to blame a baby for their emotions because they can’t find reasons for emotions during toddlerhood.
Avoid speaking any negative ideas, and instead fill them intentionally with the right attitudes. Create excitement over “helping” when the baby comes, and talk about how special it will be to share your home and belongings with a tiny new person. Talk about how wonderful it will be for mommy and daddy to have TWO (or three, or eight, or whatever number it is) beautiful little sweeties to enjoy and what great friends they will be.
Asking tiny children if they are having negative emotional reactions places the initial thought about the reaction in their minds and creates unrest because they no longer know how they are supposed to choose to react. Wait until they are experiencing frustrations to try to help them work through them.
Instead, teach simple practices like waiting until you are finished with your current task to get what they want or need. Patience and deference matter before baby is born, because they will have a crash course in them when baby gets here.
3. Quick Cuddle “Pit Stops” Can Be Fast And Meaningful
If you climb into bed to nurse the baby to sleep, have the toddler join you in your bed instead of putting them in their own. Even if it’s just for the first ten minutes of nap time, it means that you want them to be part of your space.
Taking time to snuggle them on the couch for a short episode of Peppa Pig or Curious George will also help with keeping their “love tank” full.
If you get to sit down together to eat lunch, pull your kiddo into your lap for the last couple of minutes of mealtime.
Take 5 minutes to lay down beside them at bedtime.
If you’re working on the computer, encourage them to sit beside your and cuddle.
4. Include Your Kiddo In Your Work And Excercise
It may feel like the only chance you have to get anything accomplished is when the newborn is asleep, and that’s very likely true, so try these tips for generating quality time with the toddler WHILE acccomplishing tasks:
- Unload the dishwasher together. Let them put the soap tabs in, and show them how to load silverware.
- Give your toddler a pile of socks or wash cloths while you fold laundry and use them to teach matching and color names.
- Make a game out of toy pick up by “rescuing” toys from floors made of lava, or creating beautiful patterns in the block container as you gather the blocks off the floor.
- Have a dance party instead of trying to do a workout or get them a yoga mat so they can do yoga with you.
- Ask them to help you study or write by sitting together with pens and paper or coloring books.
5. Don’t Blame The Baby
This one is critical. Never say you are too tired because of the baby. Your toddler will resent the baby for hurting their mommy.
Use simple answers without explanations. It might feel better to try to explain why you are exhausted, but it just generates resentment.
Instead of “I can’t hold you because I just held the baby for 7 hours while they screamed through a teething session” say “I will hold you as soon as I can, but for now why don’t you sit beside me?”
Instead of “I can’t play that game because the baby is fussing” say “I can’t play that game right now. It’s time for you to __________” (designate an activity)
Instead of “We can’t go to the mall because the baby is too fussy today” try “Not today, but won’t it be fun to show the mall to your sister next time we can go?”
And so on, so forth. You get the point.
The flip side of this is to not punish or get angry because something they did effected the baby. Such as, if they drop something and the crash wakes up the newborn, don’t use “you woke the baby” as a reason for a response. Nothing will make a kid hate another person as much as getting in trouble for innocent things because of an unexpected consequence.
6. Expect The Tantrums But Maintain Normalcy
Be very gentle and allow a lot of extra space and time for adjustment, but give no indicators that tantrums will ever be acceptable. It’s so important to your toddler that they know that their family and their parents are as they have always been. Use the same time out spot, the same responses, the same consequences and know that it will actually HELP your toddler to realize that her family is still functioning how it’s supposed to.
Don’t coddle or allow behaviors that you haven’t allowed in the past. The same things are wrong now as were wrong the day before baby was born. Without that consistency, which seems harsh, their entire world unravels. They need the same bedtime. The same rules. The same mealtimes.
On the same note, don’t give extra gifts and treats because you feel guilty. This will train your toddler that they can guilt you into special treatment before they are even speaking full sentences.
7. Be Excited To See Them
When they wake up from naps or come to show you their newest creation, give them a smile and reach out to make physical contact. Pull them close to you, ruffle their hair, rub their back — show them that you are glad they are there.
This seems too elementary, but as you care for a newborn there will be times when you are tired and overwhelmed, and choosing to smile and speak kindly at a toddler that you know needs more output from you is actually a discipline, no matter how much you adore them.
Remember, the exercise of smiling and the physical touch will help YOUR hormones and attitude as much as it will help your toddler’s sense of belonging!
8. Enjoy Encouraging Beautiful Sibling Bonds
Teach your toddler how to be a good sibling. Speak words of life into their relationship with the new baby. Remind them how happy it is to have a new sibling. Take time to teach them small ways to play. Encourage kisses and hand holding. They don’t know how to love a baby — show them!
Encourage them to role play with dolls as this will help with cherishing the new addition to the family. Have them change dolly’s diaper while you change the baby, and so on so forth.
Think of things that your child will be able to teach the baby as it grows. Show them what the baby can’t do yet, like holding a toy or sitting up, and talk about how they will learn to do those things with help.
Have fun growing into being a bigger family! <3