Expecting another little one for the soon to be big brother or sister can be scary, and you don’t know how they will react once the new baby arrives. However, you can prepare them so that the adjustment is as smooth as possible – for everyone involved. Start on these tips early – around 6 months before bub arrives.
- Get them used to being around other newborn babies when you are out and about point out other little babies and wave and say hi, reminding them that soon they will have a little baby like that at home too.
- Chat about what babies do, use a doll to role model. For example, “babies need sleep, shhh baby is sleeping” or “baby is crying, mummy will help”
- Establish a clear rule that we don’t touch babies faces – that is a job just for mum and dad
- Make spaces in the house for the new baby, chat with your toddler about what these spaces are (e.g. this is where the new baby will sleep). Make special new places for your toddler as well to reduce jealousy.
- Play with baby dolls a lot, use real diapers and bottles and let your toddler explore and practice – introduce the baby doll to the areas the new baby will use and set the boundaries now.
- Plan outings with your toddler that help them to be more independent (e.g. holding your hand when walking rather than being carried)
- Set up a special box of toys that your toddler can only play with when you are feeding the new baby (you need this special time to bond with a new bub without distraction)
- Start getting your child used to being away from you and your partner, have other ‘safe people and places that they regularly visit before the bub arrives. This includes sleepovers without you (of course, build up to this).
- Start to play games together that incorporate “gentle” and “rough”, “quiet” and “loud”, “right now” and “wait a minute”. These are keywords to know and define before bub arrives. Perhaps play a ball game where you use these words.
- Buy a special new toy for your toddler that the new baby can give to them when they arrive – this helps your toddler understand that the new baby is a friend and helps them to feel special and important too.
Once your new baby arrives, make sure to schedule in special time with the big brother or sister with you when you aren’t with the new bub. This could be as simple as a story before bed or once a week going to the park together. Enlist your family and friends in this task too, maybe they can take your toddler out for a treat (so they know that not everyone is purely focusing on the new bub).