The arrival of a new baby is a big change for everyone in the family. As a parent, it’s easy to feel anxious and even guilty that your first child is no longer the sole focus of your attention. You worry about how your child will adapt to their new sibling and how best to make them feel included. Here are a few tips I found really helpful and that worked really well whilst trying to navigate this stage myself.
It's a great idea to begin to prepare your toddler for the new arrival as soon as you feel comfortable to them in on the secret.
It’s a great Idea to begin to prepare your toddler for the new baby arrival as soon as you feel comfortable to let them in on the secret. The longer they know about it the more time they have to adjust to this new chapter in their life. It can be confusing for a toddler to grasp that you’re growing tummy has a baby inside (to be honest it’s quite difficult to wrap your head around it as an adult, and you know exactly what’s going on!) We found stories and picture books with the theme of becoming an older sibling great tools to really help illustrate the message. My eldest son was two years old when I became pregnant with his little brother and he loved these books so much they ended up becoming some of his favourites. It really made him excited to be just like the characters.
I tried to follow his lead and talk about the new baby as much as he wanted but also paid attention to when it wasn’t something he wanted to discuss. I also reassured him he would be a great big brother and I feel this really helped to boost his confidence and made him feel special and happy about his new role.
“My biggest piece of advice is try not to worry too much! As a Mum we manage to feel guilty about almost everything. It’s really natural to worry that a new baby will change the relationship dynamic you have with your first child.”
Buying a special gift from your new baby to your toddler is a great way to start things off on a positive note. Of course, this isn’t necessary, but it was something my parents did when my little brother was born and although I was two at the time, I still remember it. So, we decided to carry on this tradition and our eldest was so impressed that his baby brother knew what his favourite kind of toy was! He still has it four years later and now they play with it together.
When the baby does arrive, I think it’s a lovely idea to involve your toddler in the process of caring for them by helping you to bath, change and generally look after them when they arrive. It really helps to create a sibling bond and even at a young age you can get your toddler involved by asking them to bring you a nappy or picking out an outfit for their baby sibling. It’s a great way to stop them feeling left out and gives them a bit more responsibility which they start to crave. It’s also a great way to teach them to be kind, gentle and nurturing. Equally though, all children are different and you might find at times they would rather do their own thing, so if they’re not in the mood to help you can always take advantage of the fact that it’s probably quicker to do it yourself!
The long a sibling knows about their new brother or sister, the more time they have to adjust to this new chapter in their life.
When baby does arrive, try to involve your toddler in the process of caring for them.
One On One
In the early days, it can feel as though all of your attention is going on the baby. They are more demanding in some ways and this can cause your older child to seek attention in ways that are far from ideal! A good way to try and avoid this is to spend time with them one on one as well as together. Although it can be difficult and you’re no doubt tired from night feeds and endless loads of washing, try and make a block of time each day to just be with your older child. When the baby is napping for example is a good time to play with and focus solely on them.
My biggest piece of advice is try not to worry too much! As a Mum we manage to feel guilty about almost everything. It’s really natural to worry that a new baby will change the relationship dynamic you have with your first child. They probably still seem like a baby themselves and you wonder how you could possibly love another child as much as you love this one!
Try to spend some one on one time with your older child.
Something I was told and that I’ll never forget because it’s so true, is that another baby doesn’t halve your love, it doubles it. And as soon as your new baby arrives, you’ll forget what life was ever like without them, which is also a great plus to having a baby whilst you still have a toddler. As they grow up they literally won’t remember life without the other one in it and having a sibling will be so natural to them. The bond between siblings is so special, and although there will surely be times to come where they fight, argue and annoy each other like crazy, the calm, sweet moments where they hug, play and laugh together outweighs all of it.