The arrival of a new baby can be one of the most exciting times in our lives, but for their siblings it can also be a time of uncertainty, jealousy and frustration. The realisation that they won’t have your undivided attention anymore can be a hard concept to grasp for some children, especially if they are an only child and haven’t had to compete for attention in the past. So here are some tips to help make the transition a bit smoother.
Before the baby is born…
Organise sleeping arrangements prior to the birth
If your toddler is being moved to a bed so the new baby can sleep in the cot, make the transition as far in advance as possible so your toddler doesn’t feel as though they have been pushed out of their bed for the new baby. It gives them time to adjust to the new sleeping arrangements before you also throw a new baby into the mix.
Take your children along to your appointments
Taking your children to see the baby on the ultrasound or hear their heartbeat can help your children to feel more included in the whole pregnancy experience. You can try telling a child for hours about a new baby coming into your lives but until they actually see it for themselves on the scan it may not actually make sense to them.
Read books about new babies to your children
Books are a great way of explaining confusing situations to young children with simple words and pictures. There are numerous children’s books which cover the topic of a new baby that can help your children to understand the situation a bit better.
Consider a new sibling class
A new sibling class can be a great way for your children to learn about the new baby that is soon to arrive and the impact it’s going to have on the family. A lot of hospitals offer the class which teaches the children how to hold and care for a new baby as well as how to be a great big brother or sister.
Once the baby has arrived…
Offer gifts from the new baby
Arrange some small gifts from the new baby that can be given to your children. Presents are generally well received by little ones so if you explain that the present is from the new baby it may help to ease the feelings of jealousy. Your toddler might even like to buy something in return for the new baby. Let them choose the gift and get them to wrap it up themselves.
Be prepared for tantrums
Once your new baby has arrived be prepared for your toddler to throw more tantrums than usual. Having a newborn means you won’t be able to devote all of your time to the other children so it’s common for them to become frustrated. You may also find that they are more demanding and they are clingier than usual. These are all natural reactions to a new baby but they should slowly subside as your toddler adjusts to the new arrival.
Designate tasks to your children
Appointing your children to be in charge of certain things such as handing out the wipes at nappy change times, or choosing the baby’s clothes when it’s time to get changed makes them feel important and helps to ease the feelings of being left out.
But most of all, be patient. A new arrival in the household can shake things up immensely and the time it takes to adjust to the changes is different for everyone. Good luck!
Image via preschoolers.about.com
By Karyn Miller