How to Introduce a New Sibling | Parenting
Welcoming a new baby into the family is one of life’s biggest blessings and, naturally, adults everywhere will gather to meet the new baby and shower them with attention. However, as a young child, welcoming a new sibling into your family can be a real struggle as you are now forced into sharing the attention of your adoring fans – mum, dad, grandmas, grandpas, aunties and uncles. Preparation is key and there are some great children’s books that perfectly introduce the idea of a sibling.
It is important that we, as adults, don’t forget to ensure that now big siblings are comforted and attended to as much as the new baby to prevent them from feeling upstaged or usurped by a new addition. There are a number of ways we can help to ease the introduction of a new sibling, particularly for toddlers, from first meeting etiquette to gifting a big brother or sister from the new arrival.
When introducing siblings for the first time, it is wise to not be holding your newborn so that their big sibling doesn’t feel instantly usurped for their parents’ attention. Placing the baby in their crib for the first introduction will allow the older sibling to meet them on their own terms – an important initial step to a positive relationship.
Attend to the big sibling first
Particularly important for toddlers who are still largely dependent on adults to help them, ensuring that you take care of your toddler’s needs when they vocalise them is important. Even though your newborn won’t be able to understand, it can help your toddler to feel reassured of their importance if you tell them aloud that you need to just help their big brother/sister before you tend to them.
Prep your visitors
New babies inevitably cause an influx of well-meaning visitors to your door and, while it is wonderful to receive so much love for your newborn, it is also important that your toddler and older siblings don’t feel rejected during these visits. Preparing your visitors to ask that they greet your toddler or older siblings before the baby will help to ensure smooth visits without negative reactions from your older children.
It is difficult to find a moment when caring for a newborn baby but making the time to spend some quality moments with your older children when the baby sleeps can make the world of difference to them feeling secure and loved in this new family dynamic they find themselves in. Whether it’s a quick trip to the café or playing a game, little moments and dedicated attention will mean the world to them.
Ask for help
Toddlers and older children love to be tasked with responsibility and so asking them to help with certain aspects of taking care of the baby will encourage a positive relationship as they receive praise from you for a job well done. These can be simple tasks such as fetching a new nappy for the baby or bringing you a muslin cloth while the baby feeds.
Special toys for feeding time
A great idea for toddlers, providing them with a special toy or box of toys and games which comes out only during baby feeding times can provide you with a little space to do what you need and be able to fully focus on the baby. The novelty of these toys that can only be played with during feeding will help to maintain your toddler’s interest. If you find enthusiasm for this weaning, simply swap the toys out for alternatives.
Gift the sibling
When the time comes to introduce a new baby to their big brother or sister, having a gift to present to the big siblings from the new baby can really help to make a positive first impression. This can also be used to present a new toy or game for the big sibling to play with during feeding times when they will need to get on with things independently of mummy.
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