The arrival of a new brother or sister can be very exciting but also very unsettling for a toddler who is used to having your undivided attention. You may find that your toddler isn't as happy and excited about your new baby as you are, and may find it difficult to adjust.
These tips may make introducing your toddler to their new brother or sister a little easier:
- Try to keep up your toddler's routines and activities. 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 that they aren’t being forgotten.
- Accept that your older child might not love their new brother or sister at first. They may not feel the way you do. It's lovely if they share your pleasure, but don't expect it to come immediately
- Be prepared to cope with the extra demands. Your toddler may try to get more attention from you. Friends or relatives may be able to help out, but your child will still need one-on-one time with you so that they don't feel as if they've been forgotten.
- Encourage your older child to take an interest. Children don't always love babies, but they do find them interesting. You can encourage this by talking to them about what they were like as a baby. Get out their old toys and show them their baby photos. You can also explain to them how they can help you with their new sibling so that they grow big and strong just like them.
- Distract your toddler during feeds. Your toddler may feel left out and jealous when you're feeding the baby. Find something for them to do before you start feeding, or use the feed as an opportunity to tell them a story or have a chat. You can also make this snack time for them too since shared mealtimes are great for bonding.
- Be patient with babyish behaviour. Your older child may ask for a bottle, want to be carried or, even if they are potty trained, start wetting themselves again. This is completely normal behaviour, so try not to let it bother you and don't punish them. It is merely an attempt to regain your attention, even if it means doing things that they know are bad.
- Expect some jealousy and resentment. It's almost certain to happen at some point. Ask for help from your partner, friends or relatives, so that you can have time alone with each child. This will help you balance the demands put on you.
- Encourage your toddler to help with the baby. Turn looking after the baby into a fun game. Perhaps ask your toddler to help with a diaper change, and encourage your child to talk to the baby. Also encourage them to share the things that they like, like explaining to the baby how to play with their favorite toy.