The arrival of the second child is always an exciting (and somewhat daunting) experience for most parents. We believe that we are providing a special relationship for our first child and doing what is best for the family in general, but the introduction of a new baby to the family often requires some sensitive adjustment from everyone involved, not least of all the toddler.
Helping toddlers with this new addition and transition to a bigger family is really important to prevent serious sibling rivalry and jealousy from taking place. Children under the age of 3 do not yet understand the concept of sharing and may find it difficult to share their parents’ attention when the new baby arrives.
Allowing toddlers to come to terms with the new baby means letting them in on the news during pregnancy and giving them time to digest the information. Try to involve them in the process – take them to an ultrasound scan to ‘meet’ their sibling and enlist their help in setting up the nursery. Read books together about children meeting siblings, and have conversations around what to expect when the new baby comes. Include the fun things like getting someone to play with, and the less exciting bits like babies need alot of sleep and can’t do anything for themselves yet.
You can make the homecoming an exciting time for your toddler by involving her in the festivities. Ask those who are visiting to bring gifts for your toddler as well as the baby, or none at all. Allow her to feel important as you tell your visitors about how good she is at being a big sister and allow her to help you wherever possible.
If she is keen on helping you with the baby, assign a specific job to her such as singing to the baby when he starts to cry, or finding his pacifier if he needs it. If she has a special job she will feel included and important and less likely to feel jealous.
Make sure that both parents also get to spend some quality time with your toddler so that she doesn’t feel like she has lost her parents to the new comer.