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How To Prepare A Toddler For A New Sibling
Once again you’re pregnant and couldn’t be more excited to add another little one to your brood. However, if you’ve already got a little one, the chances are you’re also feeling anxious about the impact that a new sibling will have on them.
If you’ve got siblings of your own, whom you’re close with, you probably want to ensure that your children share the same close bond. The only problem is knowing how to make sure that your older child doesn’t feel left out or jealous. There’s a lot of unfamiliar ground to navigate, but don’t let it overwhelm you.
Instead, focus on the best ways to get your little one excited for the arrival of their new sibling. The question is, how should you go about doing that?
Ask How They’re Feeling
Once you’ve told your child that you’re expecting another baby, ask them how they’re feeling about it. Explain to them that it’s important that they’re honest with you about their feelings. This will help you to gauge how to support them through the process. Some children are incredibly excited when they’re told that they’re getting a new baby brother or sister. Whereas, others feel worried or upset. Some kids may even regress a little and need to be babied for a while – that’s perfectly normal.
However, your child reacts, make sure to reassure them that just because things are changing, they’ll still be your special boy or girl. Spend quality time with them each day, doing whatever they want to do. This could be reading together, playing together, or baking together. It doesn’t matter what you do, just as long as you’re spending quality time together. This will help to reassure them that even with the new addition on the way, you will still love them just as much.
Encourage Them To Build Strong Bonds With The Other Parent
Once your new addition arrives, the chances are that you’re going to be incredibly busy taking care of him or her. To prepare for that, it’s a good idea to encourage a strong relationship between your older child and daddy.
The best way to do this is to take a step back from certain activities. If you’ve always been the one to do the majority of baths, bedtime stories, and mealtimes, you need to change that. Encourage your partner to take over these jobs so that you’re older child can form a closer relationship with them. Then, when your new addition arrives, your older child should be happy to do more with daddy.
Make Your Child Feel Involved
If you want to prevent your child from feeling jealous of their new sibling, you need to make them feel involved in the process. To do this, refer to the baby as “Your brother” or “Your sister”, helping them to feel important. When telling people that you’re having another baby, simply say “Yes, that’s right, Jamie is going to be a big brother!”. By including your child when you tell people you’re pregnant, you’ll make them feel special. This is vital, as the more important your child feels in their role as an older sibling is, the less likely that they will resent the baby.
Spend time exploring what it means to become an older brother or sister. There are plenty of books about this – head to your local bookshop and pick out a couple of books together. There are also lots of TV programs that you can watch with your child about becoming an older sibling. The more time you spend exploring what it means to be a big brother or sister, the better.
Get Big Changes Sorted Sooner Rather Than Later
If there are going to be any big changes, it’s best to get them out of the way sooner rather than later. Because otherwise, your child will associate them with their new sibling and may end up resenting them.
Say, for example, your child needs to move to another bedroom so that the baby can have the room closest to your room. Make the change as soon as possible, so that by the time the baby arrives, your child is all settled into their new bedroom. Don’t say that they’re moving rooms because of the baby, just say that it’s time for a change.
Look Into Sibling Birth Classes
From teaching them how to hold a baby to explaining how babies are born, sibling birth classes could be a great way to get your little one excited. It’s important that your child understands that new babies cry a lot and need a lot of care and attention. It’s also a good idea to explain to them that babies aren’t able to play until they’re older so that they know what to expect.
Emphasize How Important It Is To Be An Older Brother Or Sister
Throughout your pregnancy, remind your child how important it is to be a big brother or sister. Tell them how proud of them you are, because you know they will be a fantastic older sibling. Explain to them that as the older child, their younger brother or sister will always look up to them. It’s also important to tell them that as the older child, it’s their job to look out for their younger sibling and help take care of them.
A great way to emphasize how important being an older sibling is, is by treating your child to some little presents that focus on their new role. When it comes to getting a child excited about being an older sibling, cute gifts for kids, like a t-shirt that says ‘Best Big Brother Ever’, are ideal. By emphasizing their role in their sibling’s life, you can help to get them excited about the new family member.
Get Them Presents When The Baby Is Born
Before the baby is born, ask close friends and relatives to bring presents for your older child instead of the new baby. This is so that he or she doesn’t feel left out when their sibling is getting lots of presents. Obviously, they can bring presents for both the new baby and your older child if they want to.It’s also a good idea to give your older child a gift from their new sibling. This will make them feel happy and excited about their new brother or sister.
Ensure That They’re The First Visitor After The Baby Is Born
A great way to make your older child feel special is to ensure that they’re the first person to visit the hospital after the new baby is born. When your older child turns up at the hospital, don’t focus on the baby, say how excited you are to see him or her.
Then, once you’ve had a cuddle with them, ask if they’d like to meet their new baby brother or sister. Sit them down and allow them to hold him or her – if your older child is still young, you can help them to support the head.
Adding a new baby to your brood will change the dynamic of your family. However, it doesn’t have to change the relationship that you have with your child. The most important thing is to make your child feel involved in the process and excited for the birth of their sibling.
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.