By Karen Torrisi
This is always a tough one when introducing a new baby to your toddler or other children and it's very important to plan ahead and keep them involved every step of the way. Below are a few tips to help you along your way.
1. Talk to your child or children before the new baby comes along.
For example - explain that there is a new baby in mummies tummy, show them pictures of you when you were pregnant with them, when they were a baby ... You can also have them feel your tummy when the baby kicks, have them sing and talk to your pregnant belly and include them in the set up of the baby room, toys, basically incorporating them into the whole new baby experience.
2. Replay their birth and babyhood so they know what to expect. Show them pictures of them when they were born, after birth, coming home, having diaper changes, nursing them etc... etc... so they know what coming.
3. As mentioned previously get you children to help with decorating of the baby room, pick toys, colours and even buy a plush toy from them to give to their new sibling. They could also make a card for both mummy and baby and take to the hospital...the main thing is to keep them incorporated in everything your doing leading up to and including the birth and after.
4. Time share: This is where jealousy can start. What children find most foreign to them (especially those under 3) is the concept of sharing you with the baby. Mum is the most important thing and although it sounds fair to say that you will spend equal amounts of time with all your children, unfortunately the reality is that the baby will always require more time. So how do you get around this ?? When you are caring and spending time with the baby this is when you have your toddler helping. When changing nappies, have you toddler help with the process of getting the new diapers, getting wipes, putting on the talc, your toddler could sing a nursery rhyme to the baby whilst you are changing the diaper. Although i say incorporate your toddler in everything you need to make sure you have appropriate bonding time with your baby... remember that a baby is a baby and their needs do come first even though your toddler will be more boisterous and persistent you need to bond with your baby too!!
5. Make the sibling feel important. Give the child a job in the family and play up the importance to you. Tell them you need their help... like "mummy couldn't have done this without you". Let them help in bathing, solids feeding (when it's time) etc, mummy's & daddy's little helper. It's all about using your words!! Trust me little phrases like "mummies little helper" makes all the difference, it makes them feel needed!!
6. Feelings.... Just as we worry about our feeling so do kids and often try to hide them. Encourage your child to express their feelings for their siblings and new situations at home. You can also get them to draw their feelings or use their toys to show you. What also helps is for you to express your feelings about the baby and daddy and them they usually will express theirs. Let them know that feelings are normal. By talking about feeling you will know if everything is ok with them and how you can help.
7. Now that the emotions are out of the way, you know where you stand with your children. If you are having jealousy issues you need to tailor to move these emotions from jealousy. Depending on your situations, you can have special time whilst the baby is asleep, have daddy time down at the park or other activities for the child as well as full family time. Words & emotions are everything with children, a lot of hugs, cuddles, good emotion and words does a world of good in any situation.
8. So everything is good and the your toddler or other children have adjusted to the baby until..... the baby is on the move!!!!! The baby is crawling, knocking over towering blocks, teething & drooling on their toys and all hell breaks loose with the siblings as nothing is safe!!! What to do???
You will need to explain to the children that they did this too, got excited... explored, chewed, drooled and ruined your things too and you had to deal with it. You will have to teach your older ones to be patient, keep toys they don't want touched in higher places and close their bedroom doors. Soon enough they will get it!!
9. Lastly, It's is not uncommon for children to become unhappy, revert to terrible two like behaviour, revert to bedwetting and tantrum behaviours once a new child is introduced into the family but all these tips can help with this type of normal behaviour that occurs and can be dealt with easily. If you are having major problems or anxieties with introducing a child or have already and it's not going too well, it would be best to make an appointment and we can help you and tailor your behaviour and what you do with your toddler to help them and your family to be happy again this doesn't need to be stressful!!! Call our office to make an appointment or email firstname.lastname@example.org for Skype appointments.
Here is a article on Coping with New baby jealousy which may help with parents introducing a new baby into the family. https://www.babysmiles.com.au/