Getting Real with Kira Hazledine
Apparently, there are two types of young children when welcoming a new sibling. The child that showers their newborn sibling with hugs and kisses, and the child that insists that the newborn sibling stay at the hospital or go home with a different family. It’s impossible to tell which you’re going to get until you’re in the moment. Luckily, there are ways that you can prepare your toddler for an addition in a way that is age appropriate.
This is coming from a professional procrastinator, but I need you to take me seriously here. The best thing you can do is to start talking about your addition early. My toddler was not yet two when we found out we were pregnant, so we began to tell her that there was a baby in mommy’s tummy. As my pregnancy has progressed, we’ve talked more and more about how my daughter can be a big helper and what it means to be a big sister. We also set up the bassinet, the swing, and the diaper changing station way ahead of time. This is so that my toddler gets used to seeing these items and understanding (before a newborn is around) that they are not to play with. We’ve had our fair share of climbing attempts, so hopefully it’s out of her system.
Teach About Babies
If you don’t already have a baby doll in the house, allow your toddler to select their own from the store. Teach about how to be gentle with babies, like rocking and how to hold them properly. There are many books out there that can help if you don’t know where to start, but it’s as simple as explaining why babies cry and how they need our help. Hopefully your toddler will start getting excited about how to be involved. We found a great baby doll play set for our toddler that mirrors many of the things that we have (diaper bag, play mat, bouncer, play pen). So, when I’m using these items for the newborn, she can use her own things and hopefully be occupied for two blissful seconds.
Don’t Establish New Routines
Seriously, don’t do this. This is not the time to launch into potty-training or sleeping in a big kid bed. Now some may say that I’m completely wrong in this, and if you must make some developmental leap, you do what you must do. Just know that you’re more than likely to see some regression as well as some push back. It will just depend on the child. I could wean my breastfeeding toddler, but I can’t think of a faster way to make her hate the new sibling. Don’t promote jealousy where there doesn’t need to be. They’ll come up with their own creative ways to fight as they get older, so they don’t need your help.
Involve Your Toddler
Even if it’s something as simple as getting a new diaper, your toddler will love being your big helper. This is probably going to take a shit-ton of patience on your part, because obviously you can grab the diaper bag much faster. However, it will mean so much to your toddler to feel needed, and it will help grow the bond between siblings.
Hold on Tight
There is no predicting how your child is going to respond to a sibling. All you can do is hope for the best and reassure your firstborn that they are still cherished and loved. Don’t expect love at first sight, although it’s certainly something to hope for. Your toddler might be angry with you, and it will suck, but you’re the adult. Get a grip and do what you can to help your toddler work through their totally valid emotions. Hold on tight to the bedtime ritual if that is what comforts your toddler, even if that means pushing off bath time for the newborn. Also, hold on tight to your sanity. You’ve decided that you want two gremlins instead of one, so hopefully you’re ready for all the adventures that are about to take place.