Most toddlers think they are the centre of the universe, so they actually have no real concept of what having a new sibling really means. Depending on the age of your toddler, she doesn’t need to be involved in the pregnancy other than to know that there will soon be a new baby in the family.
However, it’s when you bring the new baby home that the real work starts. We asked the author of Toddler Sense, Ann Richardson, for a few tips on how to introduce your toddler to the new baby:
• When you return home with the new baby, present her with a gift from her new sibling. A doll and accessories is always a good idea.
• Your toddler will play up and demand your attention just when you can’t give it, so expect her demands to intensify, especially if you have just sat down to feed the baby! To the best of your ability always attend to her needs first – this will make her feel secure.
• Have a pile of storybooks handy, and place one of her little chairs alongside your feeding chair, so that she can sit with you and read a story when you feed the baby. This is a good habit to start, and she will start to look forward to this special time.
• When visitors arrive to see the new baby, let her show them to the nursery, and allow her to help open the baby’s gift. This way she will feel included.
• Avoid saying, “Don’t touch the baby,” too much. She will cotton on that touching the baby gets your attention and will continue to do it. If possible, ignore it (unless she isfeeding the baby a sweet, or holding him upside down!) and never leave her alone with the new baby.
• Use every bit of help offered by friends and family.
• Take the phone off the hook when you are resting, or at least invest in a portable phone to keep alongside you.
• Limit visitors to a specific time of the day, so that you are not inundated all day. Visitors, while having your best interests at heart, can kill you with kindness!
Read: Babyproofing your home
• Stick to your toddler’s routine scrupulously – it will make the whole family feel more secure.
• Expect a regression in your toddler’s behaviour. She may demand a bottle or dummy again, or start wetting her bed. Keep calm, give her what she asks for, and know that it will pass with time.
• Try to spend some special time alone with your toddler every day, even if it means quiet time in the garden for 20 minutes or so.
• Look after your relationship with your partner – remember that you are in this together