Making it easier for your toddler to bond with their new baby sibling
It’s tough to remember that the arrival of a new baby marks a significant shift in your toddler’s life all of the time, especially when we’re the ones who have been awake all night. It can be helpful to imagine our own lives and relationships being abruptly and radically altered during those moments (provided we are not too sleep-deprived to do so). Could it be anything along the lines of this…
You and your husband are madly in love with each other.
Then, one day, quite unexpectedly, he sits down and exuberantly declares that he will soon be bringing home another woman; to live with you and your family permanently; whether or not you want it.
Sure enough, a few months later, a new woman moves into your home with her family. She is young and incredibly attractive, to the point where random strangers in the shopping center approach her to admire her. They don’t appear to be paying attention to you. When you go back home, she wants to spend the majority of her time physically linked to your spouse, which is understandable. It appears that since she has come, not only are you expected to share your spouse, but you are also expected to share everything else that used to be exclusively yours. Yet, strangely enough, everyone believes that you are delighted with your new living situation despite the fact that she has made no attempt to be sociable or to contribute to the household since she came.
Perhaps most concerning, your spouse appears to be spending every night of the week with his new love, leaving him too exhausted to spend meaningful time with you during the day.
Please forgive me for asking, but when did this seem like a good idea to you?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a hater in the traditional sense. Bringing a new baby brother or sister into the family may be a wonderful moment for the entire family to enjoy. All of this is merely a matter of how things look to be at the beginning of the process. Alternatively, for your child at the very least. It is critical to remember that your child will experience major changes as a result of the birth of your child, especially amid the sleep-deprived haze of new parenthood.
So, here are some suggestions for assisting your toddler in becoming acquainted with and bonding with their new baby sibling. Some of these are based on my professional expertise and theoretical understanding, but the majority are taken from my personal experience as the mother of three young, devoted siblings:
PRIOR TO THE BORNING OF YOUR BABY:
1. Encourage connecting with your ‘listening belly’: Just as you will begin to bond with your baby before they are born, your toddler will be able to do the same with you. Instruct your child to be aware that their upcoming sibling can already hear them, even from within your womb. When you’re reading, speaking, or listening to music with your toddler, for example, this creates excellent possibilities for interaction between you and your child “Your older sister and I are about to begin reading this book together, baby. You’ll be able to listen to it from inside my tummy, and when you come out, we’ll be able to show you the pictures as well” or “I wonder if you like this song as well – your big brother chose this one for us all to listen to” or “I wonder if you like this song as well – your big brother chose this one for us all to listen to” “…..
In order to get you in the mood, read stories about new baby siblings. Many books have been written to aid parents in preparing their children for the arrival of new baby siblings. We talked about the novel “I’m a Big Sister,” written by Joanna Cole (who has also written a big brother version). My interest in this story was piqued by the fact that it illustrates how babies express their demands through crying. When I explained to my empathic oldest child that babies were just communicating in this manner and were not continuously unhappy, he was relieved and encouraged to continue. In the event that her baby brother or sister arrived, I would have the opportunity to ask for her aid in understanding the reason of her sister’s sobbing: “I’m wondering if she’s trying to beg for food or a sleep, what do you think?” When you support your child in this manner, it is possible that he or she may develop a much-needed sense of personal responsibility.
3. Take time to go over your toddler’s newborn photographs with them: I put together a small book for each of my girls a few months before the arrival of their new baby sister was anticipated. Photographs of their hospital stay, kisses and cuddles, and using all of the baby equipment (baby capsule, sling, playmat, and so on) were included so that they could understand that they had enjoyed these when they were babies and that our new baby would soon have the opportunity to enjoy them as well.
AFTER YOUR BABY IS BORN, YOU SHOULD:
Fourth, if you want to have your kids in the hospital, there are certain things you can do to make the separation from your toddler less stressful. My children and I video phoned each other every morning and night on our mobile phones so that we could say our good-nights and good-mornings despite the fact that we were thousands of miles away. I understand that this will not be possible for everyone, but it is something worth looking into if you have the opportunity. (Sending a kiss goodnight to your phone’s screen cover may get a bit sticky.) In anticipation of being unable to engage physically after the delivery, I prepared peaceful activities that my little guests would be able to complete in my hospital room (coloring, puzzles, etc.) and placed small treasure hunt clues about my room for their visits (see picture) (which worked perfectly as I was able to stay comfortably still for the hunt while they ran around my room).
5. Be prepared for infant gifts: When you have a baby, people are typically extremely kind, but when you have a toddler, you may feel left out. If you have a limited quantity of pre-wrapped gifts that you’re willing to bring out for your toddler if he appears to be struggling with this, either store the baby’s gifts away and open them later or store the baby’s gifts away and open them later.
6. Enlist the assistance of your toddler: This does not include bathing or putting the baby to bed (although it is tempting on some days, I know), but your toddler can be asked to assist in a variety of other ways, such as sweeping the floor “In your opinion, which of the following outfits for your baby sister would be more appropriate for the occasion today? Thank you for your assistance “….. And, if you have a really helpful toddler at home, he may surely provide a hand by handing you wipes or nappies, or by joining you as you gently massage your baby in tandem with you.
7. Make sure that life continues as usual: Of course, nothing is as it was before (particularly not your energy levels), but the arrival of a new baby brother should not mean the end of all enjoyable activities if at all feasible. 8. Please make every effort to attend your toddler’s favorite playgroup sessions despite the fact that you are now carrying an additional child. If you don’t, you run the danger of your toddler drawing the connection between “birth of sibling = end of enjoyable activities,” which isn’t the ideal association for sibling bonds.
8. Don’t complain (at least not in front of your toddler): This one is pretty self-explanatory, I think. This is a significant shift, and your toddler is closely watching everything you say and do to help her build her own perspective on the situation as it unfolds. In the event that you wake up every morning complaining about how your new baby kept you awake all night (even if he did) and that it is therefore the baby’s fault that you have no energy to jump on the trampoline, the toddler will quickly develop an understanding of a you versus baby dynamic and will inevitably side with you and your partner. Instead, if you want your toddler to have a good attitude toward your baby, you’ll need to actively SPEAK positively about your baby to achieve this.
9. Spend time together as a family: It’s wonderful if you and your partner can take turns spending one-on-one time with each of your children (known in our house as “dividing and conquering”). However, it is critical that you spend quality time with both your toddler and newborn at the same time. At this early period, our favorite pastime was “smile practice,” which we did every day. I explained to my toddler that newborns need to learn everything – even how to smile – before they can function properly. Then, when our baby was awake and content, my toddler and I would look at her with a grin on our faces. My toddler was pleased with herself for having played a role in teaching her smaller sister the art of smiling, and she was overjoyed when our baby eventually reciprocated with a smile.
10. Quality toddler time: Just as it is vital to spend time together as a family, it is as important to avoid losing one-on-one time with your toddler. As I was putting our baby to bed (while making sure that my toddler was within earshot), I would tell her that it had been wonderful spending time with her family, but that while she was sleeping, her big sister and I would be spending some special ‘big kid time’ together and that we would see her when she woke up the next morning. When spending time with your toddler, it is important to remember to keep some of her favorite activities for times when her newborn sister is around. Performing your toddler’s favorite activities solely while the baby is asleep runs the risk of instilling in your toddler the belief that life would resemble some sort of beautiful heaven filled with loving attention and favorite things… if only the baby would sleep forever…
As you may recall, newborn newborns require a long time to eat in the first few days and weeks after birth. 11. Managing feeding time: Attempting to engage their toddlers while keeping immobile enough to feed their newborns at the same time is a challenging task for many mothers at this period. Making a box of’special feeding activities,’ which are only created during the baby’s feeding time, might be a useful suggestion for parents. This can contain new puzzles, little toys, or novels, among other things. It’s all about creating a good link with the baby in the minds of your toddlers once more. If your toddler likes reading, feeding time is an excellent opportunity to have your kid cuddle into your side while your baby feeds on the other, all while reading a book together.
Before I had my second kid, I’d heard stories about moms feeling bad for looking at their newborns in front of their toddlers. I didn’t want to be one of those mothers. Gazing at your infant is not only beneficial for bonding, but it also has a significant impact on their brain development as they grow older. When you have this time with your newborn, a wonderful and simple way to spend it is to stare at your infant as you talk to them about their older sister. It is simply your eyes, your facial expressions, and your tone that will be perceived by your kid. Your child will take note of what you are saying as well. It’s difficult to feel resentful when what your toddler hears is positive “I’m sure you’re looking forward to the day when you’ll be able to play hide and seek with your older brother. You should know that he’s a lot of fun – I’m sure you’ve already figured that out, however, haven’t you? You’re madly in love with him.”
While out and about, remember that new infants are a people magnet while they are out and about. Individuals you know and, more often than not, people you don’t know will frequently comment on how beautiful your newborn is while neglecting to see your alert toddler who is paying attention. Even if your child doesn’t appear to be paying attention, she will almost certainly notice if you respond “Thank you very much. She’s a real beauty. And fortunate to have a big sister who is so kind “…..
14. A few words about play: There are two things that should be mentioned here. As a first step, your toddler may express an interest in playing the part of either a parent or a baby in her pretend play. Throughout the years, my children have taken turns carrying a toy baby in a capsule, wearing scarve-made baby slings, and sitting alongside me as I nursed their toy babies. It’s all completely normal at this point. It is also natural for children to play aggressively. Whenever your toddler is causing harm to a baby via play, it’s a good time to remark aloud that they appear to be experiencing resentment against the infant. For youngsters, playing is an excellent way to make sense of the changes in their lives and to convey their challenges to you and your family members. As long as it is well known that genuine violence against your actual infant is not acceptable.
15. Recognize the emotions that are driving your toddler’s actions: Some toddlers are able to verbalize their sentiments, while others are unable. Others will express their grief via their actions and behaviors. This is a difficult period for your child, and although they require boundaries, they also require your empathy.
16. Take pleasure in this stage for what it is: Finally, have pleasure in this time of life. There may be days when it will seem like a huge accomplishment that you and your family have made it through. But I’m very certain that no one ever finds themselves on their deathbed wishing that they’d had a little more sleep. Instead, it is more probable that individuals would look back on these years and regret that they had spent more time soaking up the memories.