The way you go about this big change can affect their relationship for years to come. Not to put too much pressure on you, but the feelings your toddler has towards the new baby can potentially last a lifetime.
Skip the sibling rivalry and toddler jealously with these tips on preparing your toddler for the new baby:
Talk about it in a fun and positive way
Toddlers love to talk about new and exciting things. Make the baby the new fun topic to talk about!
Putting a positive spin on things will make it something they WANT to talk and learn about. This helps a lot to prepare them for the new baby.
Ask where the baby is (frequently)
Teaching them that the baby is in mommy’s tummy is a concept kids seem to catch on to quickly.
My toddler used to put her dolls under her shirt and say she had a baby in her tummy like mommy.
Frequently asking them where the baby is, lets them show off their understanding of the situation and gives them a fun reminder.
Buy gifts for them to give to each other
Letting your toddler pick out a gift to give the baby is a fun way to get them involved.
It makes it seem a bit more real when they learn that there will soon be an actual baby here, capable of playing with the toy they picked out.
It’s important to have a toy for your toddler as well (from the baby) so they don’t feel left out.
A new toy is always exciting for a toddler and it just might be enough to prevent any ill will towards the new attention-stealing addition.
Also, a fun new gift is always a great way to prepare them for the new baby by associating the change with a celebratory gesture.
Read books & watch videos about being an older sibling
This will help them better understand their new role as a brother or a sister, and get them excited.
Having new roles and responsibilities can be fun and give them a sense of importance if you put a positive spin on it.
Toddlers are always striving to be more independent and knowledgeable.
Teaching them about new responsibilities beforehand will give them time to learn and look forward to the task.
Introduce them slowly
If you are planning on having them meet in the hospital, it is important to realize that your toddler might feel nervous seeing mom in a hospital bed.
Hospitals can be a scary place for toddlers, and if they are thrown into a scary room only to see mom in a hospital bed holding a foreign baby, it could scare them.
I suggest having someone else holding the baby, or have the baby in the bassinet.
That way, the toddler who is nervous and eager to reunite with mom can run up and hug her without any restrictions.
Shower them with lots of love and attention, and tell them how much you’ve missed them!
Then, when they’re ready, ask if they would like to see the new baby. Slowly introduce them to one another, and then exchange their gifts.
Ask for their help
Getting them involved and helping with the baby will make them feel important and more likely to enjoy their new role.
If you ignore them, shut them out, or don’t prioritize them every time the baby needs something, they will quickly catch on and start to resent the baby.
They may even start acting out during these times in an attempt to get moms attention.
Avoid that difficult road by getting them involved and excited to help out!
Tell them what a good big brother/sister they are and thank them for being so helpful. It will keep them encouraged and motivated to continue helping.
NEVER compare them to one another
This is extremely important not only in their long term relationship but in their own individual self-worth and that little voice in their head.
We can plant insecurities in their little brain, and give them that feeling of never being able to live up to their sibling if we aren’t conscious of our words.
Even things as simple as “why does the baby have a paci and not me?” Explain that “you used to have one when you were a baby, but you’re big now and don’t need one anymore! Only babies need them.” If you say things like “that’s the babies paci, not yours” they might begin to feel resentful.
Going from one child to two is not easy. However, going from being the only child to having a sibling is not easy either.
Everyone will have an adjustment period, but if you approach it the right way there shouldn’t be too many hiccups with preparing your toddler for the new baby.
Depending on your toddler’s age, it’s important to understand that they are going from being the only child having mom and dad’s full attention at all times, to now sharing at least half of that.
They have a new person in their house 24/7 every day now, and their life has completely changed forever.
Cut them some slack, allow them time to adjust, but also realize that you are giving them a best friend for life.
Someone they will cherish and be able to confide in for the rest of their life.
It is an amazing and wonderful gift, they just don’t know it yet 😉