Welcoming a new baby home is exciting, but toddlers may not be so thrilled. Whether the toddler at home will like the new addition is a common concern. How do you explain to your child there will be a new baby to take care of that everyone will need to help care for? Sammy’s mom shared a few tips to help your toddler welcome their newest sibling home.
Tip #1: Explain The New Baby in A Way Your Toddler Understands
How Life Will Change for Your Toddler
BEFORE the baby comes home, help your toddler welcome the new baby. Calm their fears by explaining the event in a way your toddler understands. Your toddler might be experiencing fear of how the new baby will affect him or her. Explain how much you love them, and soon they will have a new baby to play with. Describe how much attention you will need to give the baby when he arrives because “little babies are fragile”. Adding “mommy (or daddy) will need to hold baby a lot, just like I DID WITH YOU” makes your point.
Help Your Toddler Understand How Mommy Will Physically Change
You will begin to have physical changes, so go over some of the ways pregnancy will affect you. Sharing some of those changes help your toddler understand what to expect. But toddlers haven’t developed a complete understanding of time. It might be better to wait until the third trimester to discuss changes with your child. You can use a holiday to help them understand when the new baby will appear. You might say, “by Christmas you’ll have a new brother or sister.” Or mention, ”By summer we can bring your new brother or sister with us to the park.”
Tip #2: Relate this Pregnancy to Your Toddler’s Birth
If you have sonograms and other infant pictures from your toddler’s birth, use them. Show your toddler their “before birth” images and go over the process in a simple way. You can start with old pictures of yourself before your toddler was born. Then share pictures of you during that pregnancy and finally your toddler’s infant pictures. Relating the upcoming event to your toddler’s birth could help your toddler understand. Make the picture moment into a game. Ask your toddler to look for differences between you then and now. Then have your toddler look for differences between their own infant images and their appearance now. For example, was there much hair in the first picture, and is it the same color as now? What about teeth, or facial changes. You can do this in front of a mirror to help your toddler make the comparisons.
Tip #3: Be ready for Any Reaction
Your child might get excited, or confused or scared when you tell them about the new baby joining the family. Regardless of the reaction help your toddler through reassurance that you both love him unconditionally forever. Sometimes toddlers react to news of a new baby by acting indifferent. Avoid asking them lots of questions. Wait for him or her to come to you with their questions. It is a lot for a young child to process.
Tip #4: Include Your Toddler in the Pregnancy
As the pregnancy progresses, you can help your toddler feel included by bringing him or her with you to the doctor appointments. Let your toddler hear the new baby’s heartbeat and feel the baby kick. As you involve your toddler ever more in the pregnancy, excitement builds for everyone. Your toddler will begin to embrace becoming an older sibling to your new baby.
Tip #5: Help Your Toddler By Being Calm
Your child takes reaction cues from you. You set the tone by calmly showing your toddler the right way to carefully hold and interact with the baby. Before letting your toddler hold the baby, remind them how it felt when their finger was pinched by a toy. By explaining the baby can feel the same thing, you help your toddler realize they need to be gentle.
Tip #6: Show Toddler Your Appreciation
When the new baby arrives, praise for the chores your toddler does is important. By telling them how much you appreciate help picking up toys, you encourage that behavior. If your toddler is super gentle with the baby, admire them for it. Any violent or threatening behavior toward the baby has to be corrected ASAP. But it is more effective if you calmly remind your toddler that babies are fragile and we must be careful with them.
Tip #7: Make a Little Toddler Time
Even if it is just reading a short story to your toddler or holding them while they describe their day, your toddler still needs one on one time. It is part of making sure they understand you still love them and are glad they are part of the family. Okay, we get that you will barely have time to get dressed, let alone care for both a newborn and a toddler. Your toddler will still need some one on one anyway. Take a deep breath, keep calm and order more Sammy’s Milk healthy formula and by the way, congratulations!