Wondering how to introduce your child to the new baby you’re expecting? Here are 5 tips on how to prepare your toddler for their new sibling.
If you’re looking for guidance on the best way to prepare your child for the arrival of a new baby, you’re not alone! It’s natural to be concerned for your toddler’s well-being in anticipation of the changes that this permanent shift in family dynamic can bring.
However, these changes can be positive! Many individuals with siblings reflect on their childhood and share positive memories with their brothers and sisters. Taking a few simple steps ahead of time can help prepare your child for the arrival of their new sibling and ultimately heighten a sense of welcoming and excitement for that new bundle of joy.
1. Make Gradual Changes in Routine
One way in which you can prepare your child for their new sibling is by making small, gradual changes to their routine as the pregnancy develops. For example, if your child is currently sleeping in a crib and approaching an age in which moving to a toddler bed would be appropriate, consider making that change before the new baby arrives. Many families also choose to begin potty training their toddler before the arrival of a new baby if their child shows signs of being developmentally ready. One important note to make is that if these changes are not possible prior to the arrival of the new sibling, consider waiting for a few months after the birth before introducing any changes in addition to the new baby.
2. Share Aspects of the Pregnancy with Your Toddler
Sharing elements of your pregnancy journey with your child will help them form deep and lasting bonds with the growing baby. Talk to your child about how their sibling is growing and that they can hear voices, especially loving and nurturing ones. Introduce age-appropriate books about babies and families and share stories about new siblings with your toddler. If you have a friend or family member with a new baby, consider setting up a play date with them and your child as well.
3. Involve Your Child When the New Baby Arrives
Over the course of the pregnancy, discuss the many needs of a newborn with your child and encourage them to think of ways they can help when the new baby arrives. Dig the baby books, photo albums, and family home videos out of storage and show your child what they were like as a newborn to provide further connection and understanding. Explain to them the needs they had as a baby and brainstorm different ways they can participate with their new sibling’s needs. Help your child discover some quiet time activities they enjoy for times when the new baby is napping and have them help prepare the nursery or choose cozy blankets and cute clothing for the new baby! You could even have them create some artwork to frame and display in their sibling’s room.
4. Connect with Your Toddler Everyday
Jealousy is a natural response to a new sibling, and your child may feel threatened by the attention family members provide to the newborn. It’s important that you acknowledge your child’s feelings and teach them empathy towards the new baby who requires a lot more care than they do until they grow big and strong like their big brother or sister. Ensure you connect with your child consistently every day throughout the pregnancy and after the birth of their sibling. Share loving moments with your child in which you are present, playful, and offering physical connection and continue to ensure you are spending quality one-on-one time with your toddler.
5. Introduce Your Toddler to Their New Sibling
When the new baby finally arrives, make sure connection is part of that first introduction. Consider having another family member hold the new baby while you welcome and embrace your older child. It’s very likely that your toddler missed you during the birth of the newborn baby, and there might be some anxious feelings surrounding your absence and upcoming change. Big hugs and one-on-one connection can help diffuse any hesitant feelings. Have your toddler present their new sibling with their own very special gift to begin the bonding experience. You can even plan ahead and have them pick the gift out themselves!
As you begin to settle into your new routines as a family, continue to connect with each child individually throughout the day as well as together. When the time comes, and the child care experience resumes, have your older child introduce their new sibling to their friends and educators! The relationship between siblings is wonderful, and it can flourish if it is built on security and trust.