Bonding with younger siblings

Your toddler is probably used to being the center of your world. This is your baby and are used to having a lot of one-on-one time with you. Their world is forever changed when they become a big brother or big sister. You can help your toddler to foster a loving and close relationship with their new younger sibling.

Here are tips for helping your toddler bond with your newborn.

Prepare them

No, a toddler may not understand everything that you tell them, but use the pregnancy as a time to prepare them to be an older sibling. Talk to them about the baby. Let them talk to the baby before it’s born, and explain that the baby can already hear them. You might want to get them a baby doll, or bring them along to a midwife appointment so that they can hear the baby’s heart beat. Make sure that the baby is not a complete surprise.

Make the birth a pleasant experience for your toddler

You probably put a lot of thought into creating a birth plan. Make sure, however, to include your toddler in your plans. Arrange for them to be happy during the birth by planning for them to go to visit granny or spend the day with a friend. Or you can make plans for someone to stay with them at home. After you have packed a hospital bag for yourself and your new baby, pack a birth bag for your toddler as well with special snacks and treats.

Make your toddler the first person that you talk to after the birth

Yes, you will have a really long list of people to call to announce the birth. The very first call, though, should be to your other kid(s). Telling them first makes them feel special and included.

Let your toddler see you and the newborn as soon as possible

Let your toddler come see that you are ok, and meet their new baby brother or sister. Don’t be concerned if they aren’t immediately captivated by them. It will take some time to adjust. Often toddlers become more interested in the baby on the second or third day. Don’t force them, but when they are interested, show them how to gently hold the baby’s hand or stroke their head. Help them to hold the new baby. Skin to skin contact is especially good for bonding, so let your toddler take their shirt off while they give the new baby a cuddle.

Get gifts

Lots of people will be giving you presents for the new baby. Help your toddler to still feel loved by picking a present and wrapping it up for them. When they meet their new sibling for the first time, give them the gift as a present from the baby.

Choose your words carefully

Help your toddler to feel close to the baby by using the right vocabulary. For example, if you refer to the baby as your baby that’s how the toddler will begin to think of them. Don’t be surprised if your toddler quickly becomes possessive of their baby!

Establish a routine with time for your children to spend together

A particularly great activity can be letting your toddler and baby bathe together. Your newborn will love watching their older sibling, and most toddlers will love helping to wash the baby. You can give them a washcloth and ask them to wash the baby’s toes, tummy, etc. Add bubbles and bath toys for extra fun.

Let your toddler help

Explain things to your toddler, and ask them to help. For example, if the baby is crying, explain that they are sad, and ask your toddler to sing a song or give them a toy to sheer them up. Toddlers can also pick things up for you. Find ways to let them help, and make sure to praise them for being good helpers.