My toddler asked Santa for a 'real' baby this year
He asked Santa for a 'real' baby!
Its great if your little one is very excited about having a new little brother or sister. Even so, or if not, they are not likely to fully understand how their life is about to change and we can do things to help them out with that.
We all know the saying 'preparation is key', the same applies here. The earlier you start preparing your little one for your baby's arrival, the better, as it will give them time to process what happening and adjust to the changes around them. A really important point is not to make the whole thing a massive deal, try and keep things low key so they don't get overwhelmed by it.
Let them touch your belly as it grows, explain to them (as much as you think they will understand), what's happening and get them involved. Ask them what names they would choose, discuss how you will all do things together and how they can help Mummy once baby arrives.
Talk about when they were a baby and show them pictures of how they looked , talk to them about how you changed their nappies, fed them etc so they know what to expect once baby is home.
Explain how much time Mummy will need to spend holding, feeding etc and that tiny babies really need their Mummy's during this time.
Once the baby is here choose the right time to introduce them, make sure you are relaxed and you're in a comfortable environment. This could be at the hospital but you might decide to wait until you are at home. A great idea is to get a little gift from the baby for your child. It also helps when lots of gifts are being bought for the baby so they don't feel they are missing out. Let them unwrap the baby gifts and test them out.
The majority of your time will need to be spent with your newborn, however you can also spend this time with your other children. Baby slings are a great way for your baby to get the skin to skin bonding and the closeness and security of being next to Mummy it brings and also they free up your hands for doing other things e.g. playing a game with your older child, reading etc
When you are feeding you can also use his time to sit close to your child and read e.g. just before bedtime etc
As your baby gets older you can spend time playing on the floor with both of them. Encourage the big brother/sister to make faces and funny noises to entertain the baby - when they laugh and respond to this it gives the 'entertainer' a much needed ego boost!
Make time to talk and listen to your child, understand their feelings even if they seem over the top or erratic. If they feel they are understood it will help them feel more secure and confident in opening up about how they are coping with everything. Anger can be a natural reaction to their world being turned upside down, and they may lash out not e.g. try and hit the baby when you're not looking. It's important to address this straight away and explain its not acceptable - use 'time out' to get them to think about their actions and get them to say sorry to the baby. Talk about how hurting in anyway is never ok and how "in this house we don't hit each other and we take care of each other". Never leave a toddler with a baby alone in any case as they may try and carry the baby or play in a way that's not safe.
Try to give them 'special' time. 'one on one' especially with Daddy as it will be difficult in the early days for you to be able to do this so often. Its the attention they get they will feel has changed the most, so any way this can be compensated with time just for them will really help.
Help your older child find and enjoy their 'new position' in the family group. Now they are no longer the baby, as Big Sis/Bro you can help them realize the importance of their new role. Ask them to help you with tasks such as bathing the baby, changing the nappy, fetching the toys etc all with you by their side of course and thank them for their help and tell them how well they are doing.
Of course it will not all be smooth sailing but these quick tips can help make it that bit easier for all of you. Lots of cuddles and kisses all round also go without saying :-)