As a preschool teacher, I am lucky to see life through the eyes of a child all the time. It is something I encourage parents and my own adult kids to do.
For example, you bring home the new baby. Let’s see the situation through the sibling’s eyes: You’ve spent months telling your first-born that they are going to have a baby brother or sister. And if they are anything like my grandsons, your child is very excited about the idea. But let’s be honest. Does a 2 or 3-year-old really understand that their whole world is going to be turned upside down?
I like to think about it this way: You’re sitting at home one day. Your partner walks in with another person. And the next words you hear are, “Honey this is our new partner. They are going to be part of our family now!” I’d venture a guess that unless this new person is strictly there to do all the housekeeping, laundry, and cleaning, you probably won’t be too thrilled with this idea.
Now, apply this thinking as to how your little ones at home feel when you walk in with that new bundle of joy. All they see is something small that they can’t play with and is taking your attention away from them.
To help the little one(s) at home adjust, I want to share some tips that should make this transition easier.
- Of course, most of the attention must be on the new baby. From the excitement surrounding the birth to attending to the needs of a newborn, it’s to be expected—in the eyes of an adult, that is. So, plan ahead with ways to make sure the little one(s) at home feel super special too.
- Have the baby give them a present when you introduce them for the first time
- Many new parents get balloons. You can say to big brother or sister that the new baby wants to share them.
- The kids at home will be hearing all the fun details about the new baby’s birth. They’ll be watching everyone fussing over the baby. Let them know that you were just as excited when they were born. I have had a lot of customers give the older one(s) a personalized Fairytale Baby Books story. It makes them the star of their own birth story! The book comes filled with lots of personal details that will show them they are special, too! It will also give you some one-on-one time while you snuggle and read to them.
- Toddlers love to help. It builds their self-confidence and makes them feel part of the process. Tell the baby what a big helper their sibling is. The more praise your older one hears, the better!
- Even if the newborn’s diapers are sitting right next to you, ask big brother or sister to hand it to you.
- Let the child put his/her hand on yours as you are swaddling the baby
- Kids love to open presents, even when they aren’t for them. Let them be the big helpers and do it for the baby.
- Find some time for just the older one(s). You are exhausted and overwhelmed, so I know this is easier said than done. Remember, it is quality time, not quantity time spent that is important.
- It takes a village to raise a family! Hopefully, you have a family member or friend that can come over for–even if it’s only for a ½ hour–to care for the needs of your newborn. Take advantage of that time to totally connect with your older one(s).
- With my firstborn, I didn’t realize that one could actually leave their baby in the bassinet for a bit, even when awake. But you can!!! So, do that once in a while. Tell the older one that Baby is going to have some quiet time so you can have a playdate together.
- Moments with a newborn are constantly changing. If possible, find one thing to do with your toddler that can become a constant in their lives. Read a five-minute bedtime story. Or even if your partner is giving the baths these days, be the one who dries them off with towel snuggles. Your older one(s) will come to rely on these things and feel important.
- Invest in some toys they can play with by themselves while you’re still a part of these moments.
- Kitchen Food
- Baby Doll to mimic what you are doing
- Coloring books
Hopefully, these tips will help give you something to build on and determine what might work specifically for you and your growing family. This blog concentrated on the siblings. But I didn’t forget about you! I also wrote a blog called Adjusting to Parenthood…AGAIN! Check it out.