Awaiting the arrival of a new baby is an exciting time for the entire family, but it can also be a confusing time for a sibling who is a toddler. Toddlers still rely very much on their parents for nurture and care, so it can feel threatening to have a new baby enter that secure little bubble they share with their parents. Here are a few tips to help make this transition a positive one.
It’s important for parents to talk to siblings about how things will be once the baby arrives, but they should try not to dwell on it. Don’t talk about it constantly throughout the pregnancy, but rather just talk about certain situations that might be different, or fun and exciting, once the new baby is born. Natalie Fischer explains how she and her husband tried to focus on their time with their toddler as an only child before the new baby arrived. They didn’t bring up the baby all of the time, but they did take certain moments to read books about having a new baby in the house or talk about what changes might be ahead.
Giving ownership of the new baby to the toddler will help eliminate jealousy or insecurity about having competition in the house. Suggest to the toddler that this is not only mommy and daddy’s new baby, but also THEIR new baby too. Talk to them about the excitement of being a big brother or sister and having a baby to share things with and teach about life. Actress Andrea Bendenwald explains that she made sure she wasn’t holding the baby when her toddler daughter first met him. Instead, she had her daughter sit down and she handed her the baby and said, “Here is YOUR baby brother!” This gives the toddler a sense of ownership and pride over the new baby.
It’s also a good idea to buy a small gift for the siblings to give to each other. The toddler can receive an age appropriate gift from the baby, and vice versa, to begin a sharing bond between the siblings. It will show the toddler that the baby isn’t trying to take from him, but rather is here to add to the family.
There isn’t a magic formula for successfully introducing a new baby to a toddler. There are other factors to consider, such as the child’s personality or how much time and attention the baby requires from its parents. However, these tips can help ease the anxiety that an only child might feel when accepting a new sibling into his world.