To help your toddler adjust to a new baby, firstly, prepare them for what life will be like.
Explain that the new baby will mostly sleep and feed. And because it can’t talk, it will cry to let you know what it needs. And will cry at night too because its tummy is so small it needs feeding day and night.
Show your toddler photos of when they were born, and describe what life was like when they were a baby. If you can, spend some time with friends or relatives who have small babies. Talk about where the baby will sleep and where you’ll change its nappy. Tell them what will happen when the baby’s ready to be born. And help your toddler feel involved. Explain they can hold the baby’s hand or talk or sing to the baby. And can fetch things for you- which will be really helpful.
Secondly, allow your toddler to feel jealous and frustrated at times.
When the baby arrives your toddler needs to adjust to sharing your time and attention.
They may do things that show they’re jealous or may regress in some aspects of behaviour such as wetting themselves, having tantrums or occasionally wanting to be treated like a baby.
- Try to recognise when your toddler finds it hard and say things like:
- ‘It looks like you’re feeling cross, your baby brother needs feeding, and you want me to play with you now.’
- ‘I think sometimes you have two feelings, you love the baby lots.
- And sometimes you wish the baby wasn’t here and it was just you and me.’
- ‘Perhaps you think that it’s easier to be a baby and have someone to look after you rather than to do things for yourself. And be a big boy.’
You may feel that difficult emotions like feeling frustrated or jealous shouldn’t be voiced. But putting in words how you think your toddler is feeling will help your toddler feel understood.
And will help defuse anger or negative feelings.
Finally, make time for special one to one time with your toddler.
Even if it’s just 15 minutes quality time every day, playing with them. Perhaps, if you have a partner, take it in turns to look after the baby. Or make a special effort to play with your toddler when the baby is sleeping. If you do that your toddler will feel important and will be less likely to misbehave to get your attention.
So the 3 tips to help your toddler adjust to a new baby are:
- Prepare them for what life will be like.
- Allow your toddler to feel jealous and frustrated at times.
- Make time for special one to one time with your toddler.
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