Are you about to welcome a new baby to your family? Here’s are 7 easy things to do introduce a new sibling to a toddler.
1. Enlist a little helper for the new baby
When a new baby arrives, it’s only natural for an older child to feel left out. Include your other child in everyday routines such as bathing the baby. Set up a small bowl of water for them to “bathe” their own doll. Create tasks for them, such as getting you a towel, and always praise them afterwards.
2. Special moments
Make feeding time with the baby the time you spend a special half an hour or so with your older child. Snuggle up on the lounge and read a book together, do a puzzle or play a simple game together.
As your baby gets older, you’ll still need to spend one-on-one time with each of your children.
Psychologist Collett Smart explains why and how in the video below.
3. Routine, routine, routine
Now you have more than one child, that’s two sleep routines to keep going. Routine is everything! Everyone needs a routine. Kids love it, they thrive on it and it works. Make bedtime with your older child a special time. Your child may want to read a book with you, talk to you about their day or hear a story. Keep the routine short (30 minutes, not including bath time) and be firm when it’s time for sleep.
4. Stop feeling so guilty
You’ll feel guilty about not giving as much attention to your older child as you did before the baby arrived. You’ll feel guilty about not spending as much time with your newborn as you did with your first. Push away the guilt. You’re doing an amazing job. Now go have a shower and spend a little time looking after yourself!
5. Make the most of help
In the first few weeks after having a baby, call on all the help you can get. If your partner has parental leave or you have grandparent help available, get them to look after baby while you spend quality one-on-one time with your older child.
7. When jealousy sets in for the new baby
After the novelty of having a new sibling has worn off, it’s very common for older children to feel jealous. Try and ignore negative behaviour when you’re attending to baby. Remind your older child that the quicker you feed or settle the baby, the more time you’ll have to play together. Positive reinforcement works: try a sticker chart for good behaviour. Reward your older child’s patience with a trip to the park or a special treat. Make sure you give yourself a special treat too!
Related: Why do siblings fight all the time?!
8. When all else fails . . .
Call in the experts. Often, what parents—and children—need is a little sleep to help cope with the world. As a sleep coach, my aim is to empower parents with the right knowledge to help their child sleep. Sleep is a learned skill. Using a sleep coach gives parents the confidence and support to help their babies and children sleep. But more than anything, the help and support of a good sleep coach empowers a family to feel united, happy and rested again!
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