Your toddler knows there's a baby in your belly, but what happens when that baby is out and part of the world? That little sidekick of yours is about to go from being the smallest thing in the house to the older sibling. Since the family dynamic is about to change, mothers may wonder will my toddler like the new baby? It's not uncommon for this thought to cross your mind a few times before delivering your next bundle. This concern was very real for me when I was pregnant with my second, and it took time and learning to ease this worry.
As a mother, I hoped my kids would be close. I felt like I was giving my son a built-in playmate and life-long bestie when I was pregnant with his brother. But as a toddler, he did not have the capability to comprehend this yet. My fear grew — along with my belly — that my toddler son would not welcome the arrival of his little bro, that he would resent a baby for taking the attention of his parents, and that those feelings would show as dislike for his new brother. I realized that I needed to be as proactive as possible in preparing my son for this transition.
To help your toddler welcome their new sibling and increase the chance of bonding, use these ideas to foster love between the littles.
1. Include Them In The Pregnancy
Bring your toddler along to a doctor's appointment or two to give them an idea of what's happening inside your baby bump, suggested Parenting magazine. This will help them start to feel included in the process before the baby is born.
2. Talk About Attention
Your toddler is used to having the attention all to themselves, so sharing parents with the new baby may be a struggle. To help with expectations, What To Expect pointed out that explaining how much attention babies need will prepare your toddler for the transition.
3. Revisit Their Babyhood
Sit down with your toddler and thumb through their baby book together. Looking at pictures of her as a baby and talking about all the needs babies have, will open the conversation for things the new baby will need, according to the website Ask Dr. Sears.
4. Find Ways They Can Help
Before baby arrives, discuss with your toddler ways they may want to help you with caring for their sibling. Parents suggested including toddlers on tasks such as diapering and feeding the new baby to allow big brother or sister to feel involved.
5. Read About It
When it's time for a bedtime story, choose one that will help shed some light on the coming changes. Try a book like My New Baby by Rachel Fuller to help your toddler earn about babies and how their role as a big sibling is important.
6. Have A Formal Introduction
Before you bring the new baby home, have someone bring your toddler to the hospital to meet their little brother or sister. But as Mayo Clinic pointed out, this is an opportunity to that meeting about your toddler as well. Doing things like cuddling your toddler while someone else holds the baby, or giving your child a small gift from the new baby, will show them that you're still the same loving mommy who cares a ton about them.
7. Include Them In Bathtime
One of the ways I encouraged my boys to bond, was by putting them in the bath together once the baby was sturdy enough to be in a bath chair. Letting my older son help wash the babies feet and hands was so fun for him, and I felt like it helped bring him closer to his little brother.
8. Get Dramatic
Use dramatic play to act out what a new baby is like. According to Working Mother magazine, your toddler can learn about caring for a newborn by using a doll or stuffed animal. They can pretend to feed, burp, and change the "baby" in the months before their sibling's arrival.
9. Visit With Real Babies
If the stuffed animal isn't enough of an example, take your child to visit a friend who has a baby, so they can see what it's like. Offer to babysit while your friend runs an errand and see how your child reacts when it's just the two of you and the baby. This may help give you clues of what to expect when you bring your new baby home.
10. Take A Class
According to Kids Health, many hospitals offer new sibling classes for kids who are preparing for a sibling. These classes cover feeling about a new baby, how to hold a newborn, and an explanation of how babies are born. Check with your local hospitals and birthing centers to see if anyone near you is offering classes such as this.
11. Be Realistic
It's important to remember that each day with a new baby is different, and your toddlers moods and temperament will change as often as you change a newborn's diaper. Don't become too disappointed on the hard days, and make sure to celebrate the great days. Keeping your expectations in check will set you up to manage the highs and lows of parenting a toddler and newborn at the same time.