It can seem overwhelming, the thought of managing your active toddler and bringing home a new baby.
Of course, there are the sleepless nights and managing breastfeeding, but many times too your toddler may take time adjusting to the introduction of a new family member, given that they have been the sole sum of your world for the past few years.
“Key ideas to consider here are that our easy or flexible children may adjust more easily to change, and because they do, we need to be more mindful to connect with them compared to the child who may need more support with change – we are very aware of their needs,” says Strategies with Kids, Information for Parents (SKIP) national leader Regan Mayo.
Here are some tips from Plunket and Skip to help you broach this trying time.
Before the baby is born:
• Prepare your older child by talking with them during your pregnancy.
• Explain who will look after them while you have the baby.
• Include your older child in getting ready for the new baby.
• Make any major changes before the baby comes, such as moving the older child out of the cot or bedroom.
• Involve your older children in the preparation. Ask them for their ideas on names and things you need to buy.
• Show your older child they are loved and special by talking with them and telling them you love them.
• Giving your older child a present from the new baby is a good idea too.
After the baby is born:
• Teach your older child how to cuddle, touch and talk to the baby safely while you supervise. Praise them when they do it well.
• Explain to them how to keep the baby safe and make clear that only adults can pick up the baby.
• Make sure they know that the baby doesn’t eat anything except the baby’s milk.
• Include your older child in helping you look after the baby by giving them tasks like fetching nappies and toys for the baby.
• Talk with your older child about when they were a baby.
• Ask friends and family to give your older child some special time, and try to spend some time alone with your older child.
• As much as you can, keep up normal activities like going to the park or playgroup together.
• When you feed the baby, have books or games ready for your older child. They may enjoy hearing a story or playing quietly next to you.
• Be patient if your older child becomes demanding or goes back to babyish behaviour. For example, they may start wetting their pants.
• They may take out their anger or jealousy on you to get your attention. It will pass once they get used to the change.
• Talk with your older child about how they feel. Tell them you love them.
• Make sure you spend some time each day with your other children. This could just be sitting and talking or reading a book.
• Ask them what they think the baby should wear.