5 Tips to Prepare Toddlers for a New Sibling
It’s a new year! That means new experiences, new adventures and… a new baby? That’s right, my little family will be growing by two feet this summer. And while I’m over the moon with excitement, I’m also super nervous about telling my almost 3-year-old that there’s going to be a new baby in town. Our daughter has been the light of our lives since her first breath. Heck, since her first ultrasound really. She loves mommy and daddy time, snuggling with us in the mornings, reading stories together before bedtime. The idea of the culture shock she is about to experience gives me more than a little morning sickness.
My mommy of multiples friends assure me that every parent feels this way about subsequent children. Will my other child resent me, and the baby? Will I love this baby as much? How am I going to make this work? After flashing a quick, knowing smile…they tell me, “It just does, you’ll see.” As much as I believe them, the fear still remains. So at my last obstetrician appointment, I let loose. I explained my worries and doubts which were again met with a knowing smile. After the doctor talked me down from my mommy meltdown, he said something that really hit home — it’s going to take practice and you can start right now.
Start now? I hadn’t even thought about that. He explained how I could start prepping my toddler for her big sister role. Here are a few tips:
1. Babies, Babies, Everywhere!
Start exposing your toddler to younger babies. Go to playdates or parents’ day out programs. If you have a friend with a young baby, that’s even better! Visit often, let your toddler see you holding the baby, but remember to always cuddle your big toddler again afterward.
2. Story Time
There’s a children’s book for almost everything and luckily there are lots about getting a new sibling. Really just about any book that has a baby in it can spark a discussion. Point out how the parents hold the baby and what types of toys babies play with. Anything baby-related is priming siblings for the bundle of joy that’s about to invade their space.
3. Remember Back When?
Sometimes it can help toddlers to remind them that they were babies once too. Show them pictures of themselves as babies. Talk about the attention they got and the gifts they received when they were a new baby.
4. Being Big is Special Too
Show your toddler the benefits of being big. Involve her in activities she can do that babies can’t. Going down the slide at the park, riding a tricycle, putting together puzzles with Mom or Dad — talk about how these are special things that only big kids can do. Then you can tell her that someday she can teach her new sibling how to do them, too.
5. Let Them be Babies
Despite the fact that he’ll soon be a big sibling, don’t rob him of his own toddler-hood. Don’t assume that he now has to sleep in a bed instead of a crib, especially if he still enjoys that comfort. Continue your daily activities just as you have and remember that your toddler is still very much a baby, too. Expect him to want to be held and even play “baby” by being cuddled and cooed in your arms.
Family transitions are hard work. But the most important thing to remember is to stay flexible. There isn’t any one proven formula for preparing your toddler for his or her new role. Everyone is different, even the littlest people.