How do you introduce a new baby to its siblings?Parents agonise over this as much as anything else to do with bub. My little sis gave me this idea as one of her besties has just had her second child recently. And Miss Freya has a new sibling due to arrive very soon too! Oooohhh!
Relationships with siblings should ideally start from when you are showing the signs of pregnancy, i.e. a large bump! If you start the conversation off too early then junior will get bored. Remember any toddler has a short attention span and time is fluid. So best to leave till after 20 weeks or even nearer to term.
There are several books that you can read to your toddler to help them get the concept.My sister has tried this with Freya but not much luck. She's less than interested. Hopefully not a sign of things to come! Some books that cover this topic are:
- Ouch in my pouch - Jeanne Willis (a real Aussie theme!)
- I just couldn't wait to meet you - Kate Ritchie
- Waiting for Baby - Rachel Fuller
- My new baby - Rachel Fuller
- Little Hippo's New Baby' - Harriet Ziefert and Emilie Boon
- Za Za's baby brother - Lucy cousins
- Hello in There - Jo Witek
Other things you can do to help the process
- Buy a present for the toddler to give to the baby.
- Buy a present from the baby for your toddler. Ideally giving it on the first meeting.
- If you're having your baby in the hospital try and make sure the new baby is in the cot when the toddler/child arrives. Then your arms are free to greet your child and give them a big hug and have a cuddle. If you're holding bub when your child walks in to see you, they may feel that you have replaced them with something small and cute and feel jealous.
- Let them go over to the cot in their own time, don't force any interaction. Remember its all about them. They need to feel special and loved, no matter how excited you are about the new baby. First impressions and meetings are important to do sensitively. Put yourself in your toddler's shoes. They've been no 1 in your life for so long.
- Praise any positive interaction you notice between toddler and baby. Label the praise so the toddler connects what he is doing that is liked by you. e.g. 'Freya, your little brother loves the nice gentle strokes you are giving him', eye contact and modelling behaviour most helpful too.
- Get them involved in helping you do things for baby
- Visit friends who have new babies and toddlers.
- Expect some regression in behaviours, this is normal and to be expected. See my blogs on toddler behaviour to help you get some help with this.
- Leave things like potty training till your new baby is a bit older and you have time to give it the time and concentration it deserves. If you start just before the new baby arrives your toddler may regress anyway.
- Keep your toddlers routine. Regular meals and sleeps help everyone. Make sure that the key caregiver knows your child well and their routines and likes and dislikes so it feels easy and seamless. Routines create security and reduce the stress hormone cortisol and increase the feel-good endorphins.
- You may want to organise childcare before the baby comes along so your toddler doesn't feel 'shipped away' somewhere new.
- Jealousy is normal and to be expected. They have been your number one for quite some time.
Here are some links to some further reading you will find helpful
Preparing your toddler for a new baby
Introducing baby 1 to baby 2
New baby: preparing your other children
Managing bedtimes with a young baby & toddler
Your toddler & sibling rivalry
Life in the fast lane with 2 children under 5
Learning to share
Prepare your child for a new baby
Help a sibling adjust to a new baby
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