If you already have a little one, the arrival of a new sibling can be tricky time for them. They may look for extra attention overnight and their sleep and behaviour can suffer. I have popped below a few tips which may help with the transition from only child to elder sibling.
- A good idea is to start getting into slightly new habits a few weeks before your new baby is born. If, for example, you all go swimming on the weekend, mummy might need to sit in the cafe watching everybody swim for a few weeks before the baby is born. This will mean it is not the baby’s fault that mummy can’t come swimming any more, but it is normal for her to go and watch with the baby like she used to.
- If you need your little one’s cot for the new baby, you need to initially ensure they are ready for the transition to toddler bed. 2.5 years is really the earliest you should consider this. Bear in mind that if your eldest little one does not sleep, transitioning into a toddler bed too early is likely to make things worse, not better.
- Make sure there is plenty of time between the toddler getting a new bed or bedroom and the baby ‘taking over’ too, so that you prevent any jealousy. If your toddler is changing rooms or beds, make sure it is a positive transition for them.
- A really good tip, when your little one comes to meet your new baby for the first time, is to ensure the new baby is not in mum or dad’s arms, but is perhaps in their Moses basket, car seat or cot (depending upon where the introduction will take place). This will ensure your arms are free to give your little one a big cuddle and they can see that the new baby has not replaced them.
- I have found that taking your little one to buy a present for their new baby is a really lovely way to spend some time together but also introduce the idea of a caring role. This can be a new teddy or cuddly toy which the new baby can have as a special teddy when they are awake. Your little one will appreciate the 1-1 time with you and will love to give his new baby brother or sister the special teddy.
- Following on from the new gift idea, giving your little one a present from the new baby as a ‘thank you for being my big brother or sister’ can also be a great starting point. Give them a toy that they will be really excited about and something that they are into, as a thank you for being a big brother or sister.
- When family and friends come round to meet the new baby, make sure that they first speak to your older child before asking if they can show them to the new baby. This will ensure that they do not feel left out and feel that they are still important when everyone comes round.
- If you need to get home for the baby to have a nap or feed, don’t say that it’s for the baby but explain that mummy or daddy need to put the washing on, get home to make food etc. Again this prevents your little one ‘blaming’ his or her new sibling for having to leave somewhere they were having fun.
- Ensure you spend at least 20 minutes of 1-1 time every day with your little one after the baby is born. This will ensure they are not looking to fill their ‘attention cup’ at night, even if that attention is negative. It sounds relatively easy but, with the demands of a newborn, it can be tough. Ensure it is focussed, child led play and not just reading a book or watching tv (no matter how much you would like to).
- Try and enjoy this special time. Your eldest little one may take a little time to adjust to their new role but with patience, and understanding, they will be thrilled with their new arrival in no time.
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