Helping a Toddler Adjust to a New Baby
When I brought home my second child from the hospital, I made a lot of mistakes in preparing my toddler for her new sister. As a result, she had a difficult time adjusting to the new baby. In fact, she ignored both my and her new sisters existence for the first week and only started talking to me again when her dad went back to work and she was forced to.
So, when I got pregnant with baby #3, I decided that I really needed to work to prepare my other kids, especially my toddler for the arrival of a new sister. I'm so glad we did because she adjusted so much better to the new baby than her older sister had a few years before that.
Here's a few tips to help a toddler adjust to a new baby:
1. Get them involved in your pregnancy, even if they are very young. Allow them to come to doctors visits with you, to see the ultrasounds, etc.
2. Let your toddler help to decorate the new babies room and to help pick out clothes and other things.
3. Take your toddler on a tour of the hospital. This way they'll know where you are going to go to have the baby.
4. Allowing your toddler to visit you in the hostpial after the birth will really help them to adjust to the new baby. It's hard for little children to understand that there is a baby living in your stomach, and seeing the new baby at the hospital will help prepare them for the homecoming.
5. Have the new baby bring home a present for your toddler.This helps to make them feel special when the baby is the one getting all the attention.
6. When you have a choice, choose to spend time with your toddler. I made the mistake of spending all my time with the new baby when I brought home my second. I was just so enamored with her. I held her all the time, even when she was sleeping. I realized later, that I should have allowed the baby to lay down and spent some time with my toddler. When my 3rd baby came home I did that and it helped a lot. I just spent all my quality time with my baby during all those middle of the night feedings.
7. Make time to do things alone with your older child. Knowing that you'll still have time just for them will really help a toddler adjust to a new baby. Have a friend or family member watch the baby so that you can do something fun with your older child.
8. Encourage interaction with your new baby. Now that you are on your second or third child, you probably realize that they babies aren't easily broken. Encourage your older child to help you with the babies care, just make sure you set rules about handling the new baby and always supervise interaction.