Preparing a toddler for the arrival of a sibling
Oct 16, 2022
(Author Ms.Nithya Ramachandran - Montessori Guide and Consultant)
If you are expecting a new addition to a family with a toddler, you may wonder how they will react to the new one and the sudden shared attention. While the new baby is exciting news for adults, don’t be disappointed if your toddlers don’t quite share the joy yet – they probably don’t understand what that really means. Or they may act very excited throughout the pregnancy but completely turn around and throw tantrums once the baby is born (this is also due to a lack of understanding and emotional regulation).
Here are a few ideas to help you and your toddler ease into this transition. Prepare them Start preparation as early as possible. Although toddlers don’t quite understand the concept of time, try to use realistic and concrete ways to tell them what is going to happen. If possible, take them along for doctor visits and scans – again, though they may not completely comprehend things, it will help reinforce the idea that someone new is going to come along and be a part of their family.
Talk to them about the changes that may happen at home and in their routine – don’t sugarcoat it, try to be neutral and factual. Read books about the arrival of a new sibling together and even write and draw your own book. Give them plenty of time to process it and be patient with their questions. Please make sure all family members are communicating the same message to the child – especially about gender of the baby and other such expectations.
Involve them Once the baby is born, instead of keeping your toddler away from the room, try to involve them in simple and small tasks. This will make them feel like they are a part of this change and are positively contributing it.
Some places you can involve your toddlers could be putting the diaper in the dustbin or laundry basket, handing you a fresh diaper or clothing, preparing for the bath, bringing the mom a drink of water before breastfeeding, singing to the baby and playing with the baby when they are awake.
Make sure to set limits around how they should handle the baby and always be around when your toddler and baby are together. Take out some time exclusively for them Make sure that at least one parent takes out some time to exclusively spend with your toddler. You can either read together, play together, or go for a walk together. This time should be spent away from the baby as much as possible so you can give your toddler all the attention they have missed out on.
Make sure they know that although there have been changes in the routine and home environment, you are always available to them. Acknowledge their feelings and provide reassurance Understand and acknowledge that this is hard for them. Don’t tell them to suddenly ‘grow up’ or ‘act like a big brother or sister’. Remember that their emotional regulation is still developing and that they may be experiencing some big feelings about the changes and transition. Let them know if it is okay to feel this way and help them breathe through their tantrums, always be present and patient. Redirect them to constructive work whenever their actions are harmful to themselves or others.