Welcoming a new baby can be such an exciting time. While there’s a lot to prepare, one of the most important steps is getting your older child ready for their new role as a big brother or sister.
Sharing the news about the arrival of your new baby to your older child might be met with happiness, excitement, tears, anger, or anything in between. And all of these reactions are completely normal. You can set your child up for an easier transition by planning out your approach in advance and giving them enough time to adjust to the changes. Remember: before talking to your child, make sure all parents and/or caregivers are on the same page. Your child might pick up on any inconsistencies or tension between you, so be sure to prepare in advance.
Preparing your toddler for the new baby
Though your toddler won’t understand much of what comes with a new baby, they’ll pick up on your excitement. Keep your voice enthusiastic as you tell them that they’ll be a big sister or brother to the new baby. Because toddlers are very focused on themselves at this stage, focus the conversation on how they’ll be a great big sibling to the new baby.
To help them feel special and secure during this time of transition, set aside one-on-one time with your toddler. You can look at age-appropriate books about new babies to help them learn new words like “brother,” “sister,” and “sibling.”
Preparing your preschooler for the new baby
Your preschooler will have a better grasp of what it means to have a younger sibling, and they might feel threatened by the arrival of the baby. To help them adjust, get them involved in some simple new baby preparation, and reassure them that you’ll love them just as much when the new baby arrives.
Ask their opinion on some small decisions. Being involved can help ease jealousy about the new baby and make your preschooler feel valued by you. You can ask them what toys they think the baby would like or what blankets would be best to use. This also helps build special bonding moments between you and your preschooler before the baby arrives.
Remind them of when they were a baby. You can look at their baby pictures together and bring out some of their old baby toys and clothes. Talk about how cute and fun they were as infants to get them excited to meet their younger sibling. Be honest about what to expect. Preparation is key for a smooth transition. Share that the new baby will be so cute and fun to hold, but they will also cry and need a lot of attention at first.
Watch a show or read a book they like that has younger siblings in it. This exercise can help them form positive associations with their new baby brother or sister. It can also model how to interact with new babies and give them a better idea of what to expect.
Avoid rushing through milestones. You might notice your child regressing slightly during this time, and that’s a normal response when welcoming a new baby. Do your best to remain patient with your preschooler as they deal with this big change in their life.
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