By April Kinney
In early December I gave birth to my second child, a beautiful baby boy! Our daughter is two-and-a-half years old. During my pregnancy, she was seemingly oblivious to my growing belly, or what that could mean. Then she met her baby brother at the hospital and knew she was no longer the only baby in the family.
I thought long and hard about how we would introduce our new baby to our daughter.
Here are 9 tips on how to prepare your toddler for their new sibling and make the transition easier for everyone!
1. Gift your toddler with a ‘baby.’ In my third trimester, we bought our daughter her own ‘baby.’ She was absolutely thrilled! She carried the baby around, helped get the baby dressed, and gave the baby a bottle. We didn’t give the new baby too much attention, just enough that she could experience a few moments taking care of her own baby. It was brilliant!
2. Introduce the new baby at a neutral location. I gave birth to our son via caesarean section. As such, we spent 5 days in the hospital. My partner and I spent the first night at the hospital with our son. The next day, my partner took our daughter to the hospital, and I gave her the biggest cuddle I could manage without hurting myself. We introduced her to her baby brother who was sleeping in his bassinet. She took one look at him and said “baby.” It was beautiful!
3. Go home as a family. It was important to me that we all go home together as a family. My partner brought our daughter to the hospital the morning of our discharge day. She was so excited about packing the bags! She helped give our son a bath and get ready to go home. We all walked out of the hospital together. When we arrived home, our daughter ran inside, sat on the sofa, and said, “Mommy, sit down”. It was our first moment home as a family of four.
4. Give your toddler a toy during feeding time. I wanted to give my daughter a game, book, stuffed animal, or toy she could play with while our son was feeding. While this works for many parents, our daughter wanted a “milky bottle.” She wanted to be a baby again. So, for the past eight weeks she has been having a small baby bottle along with her normal meals. It is not ideal, as we are continually cleaning bottles and buying extra formula. However, it works for us.
5. Give your toddler some alone time with you. Our daughter has wanted extra attention since our son was born. She even sits in my lap and wants to be rocked like a baby. As soon as our son is sleeping, I focus on her. We read a book, play a game, or go outside. We have cuddles and kisses. Whatever we do, it is all about her.