Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tips to Prepare Your Toddler for a New Sibling

You are about to add a new sibling to your growing family. It doesn’t matter how many kids you already have, the new arrival will shake things up. Consider these tips to help make the changes a positive experience for everyone.

1. Pay attention to timing. Choosing when to announce your great news to your other kids depends on each child’s age. If you aren’t showing yet, your two year old won’t understand what you are trying to explain. In addition, nine months is practically half his lifetime and much too long to know about your impending pregnancy. Once you are about five months along, he can actually see your bulge where the baby is and that’s enough time for him to get used to the news.

2. Make sure that you include other siblings in your pregnancy. When the baby kicks, let your children feel it. This will point out that a real person is growing inside you. Encourage your kids to be involved in setting up the nursery and thinking up baby names. It’s vital that they feel part of the process.

3. Find ways to make your other kids feel important. Choose times to spend with each child individually before the baby arrives, to let each one know he is special. Be sure the older sibling understands how much you will rely on his help when the baby is born. The little baby will need to learn so much from his big brother and you know that he will be a caring, loving older brother.

4. When it’s time to hand things down from an older sibling to the new baby, be sure to ask the older child’s permission. Let’s start with his crib. Talk to your toddler about how excited you are that he is now old enough to leave the crib for a new big boy bed. Encourage him to take ownership of his new bed, by helping you choose sheets, pillows and blankets. He should be out of the crib at least a full month before the baby arrives. By then, when he’s used to his new bed, you can ask him if the new baby can now sleep in his old crib. It’s important that you make him feel important and special to be sharing his bed with his new sibling.

5. Remember to find time for your other kids after the baby is born. Naturally, the focus will be on the new arrival, but it’s important to remind your older children that they are important to you and you appreciate their help during this busy time. Many times, company will visit with gifts for the new baby, and often for the siblings, too. If they forget the other kids, it’s a good idea to have a stash of small things that you can bring out for them to remind them that they are special. Wait until the company leaves, and then offer the kids a coloring book, puzzle or something similar as a thank you for being so understanding. When the baby sleeps, try to spend some quality time with the other kids.

6. Be sure to encourage all of your kids to enjoy and appreciate one another. The more your family grows, the more important it will be that they all get along and truly love one another. Sibling rivalry will happen, but encourage the kids to work as a team, instead of feeling like they must complete for your time and attention.

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! It’s only natural that when the new baby is born, you will be tired and your house will be chaotic. Preparation will make the transition smoother for everyone.

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