What's the most sure-fire way to rock a toddler's world? Introducing a new baby to their orbit is at the top of the list. Like so many firsts, the way the situation is approached can make all the difference. Here are some tips for ensuring a smooth and enthusiastic transition to the world of being a big sibling.
Include Them in Your Pregnancy
Having a mom who's suddenly off to constant doctor's appointments and whose routine may be changing can be jarring for a little one. If it's possible for your tot to tag along to an ultrasound appointment, or visit the hospital or birthing center where the baby will be born, try to make that happen. Give them bits of information without overwhelming them, ensuring that they're part of the process.
Make the First Meeting Meaningful
While it can be tough to know exactly what to expect when it comes to a new baby's arrival, creating a first meeting experience that feels welcoming and inclusive to the older child can go a long way. If you have a tough childbirth or your hospital's restrictions are extensive, it may be more relaxing for that meeting to happen in the comfort of your own home. You know your child best — come up with a plan that will put them at ease.
Nurture the Bond
Give your new arrival a leg up on befriending their big sib by choosing a special gift or surprise that's "from the baby." Talk with your toddler about things that they can show or teach their new little brother or sister. They could create a piece of artwork for the nursery, or select some favorite books or toys that they've outgrown to pass on to them.
Give Them a Sense of Purpose
Once the baby arrives, giving your older child some responsibility can help them in figuring out their role in the new family dynamic. Determine a few age-appropriate tasks — it could be bringing diapers and wipes over, "reading" to the baby, or playing with the baby while you're in the shower. Be sure to praise their helpfulness and maturity rather than taking it for granted.