Fostering a Positive Relationship between a Toddler and a new Sibling

A new baby produces big changes for every member of the family, including siblings. It can be especially difficult for a toddler who is accustomed to being the “baby” of the family and getting a great deal of the attention. You want to foster a positive relationship between the toddler and the baby from the beginning. Various strategies can help your toddler cope with your new bundle of joy.

Start talking to your toddler about the new baby, even before its birth. Frame the situation as the exciting event that it is. Talk about how wonderful it is that you will have a new baby in the house. Talk to the toddler about how beneficial it is for him or her – how there will be a new companion that he or she can play with.

Remember the child’s young age when describing the baby. Dr. William Sears suggests showing the baby his or her own baby album so that he or she can see how a baby looks and acts. Describe what the baby will do, such as sleeping, crying and nursing. Encourage your child to ask questions and share his or her feelings, both before and after the birth.

There are many ways that you can include your toddler in the preparations for the new baby. Bring him or her to your doctor appointments. He or she might get excited when the ultrasounds show the new baby in mommy’s tummy. Look to your hospital and other community resources for classes for siblings-to-be. These are sometimes offered alongside prenatal classes.

You should also make sure your toddler understands what will happen to him or her when you go to have the baby, especially if he or she is not accustomed to being away from you. If possible, get someone special to stay with the toddler, such as a grandmother.

Once the baby comes, it is especially important to include your toddler. You can purchase a gift from the toddler for the baby. You can ask him or her to draw a picture. Ask your toddler to help care for the baby. He or she may enjoy helping you bathe the baby, for instance. You can also let him or her pick out the baby’s outfit in the morning. He or she can sing a song or tell a story to the baby.

Finally, it is extremely important to give alone time to your toddler as much as possible. Put aside some time when someone else is watching the baby so your toddler can still get some one-on-one attention. Perhaps someone else such as the father or a grandparent can also give the toddler individualized time as well. Make sure he or she understands that you love him or her exactly the same as before.

The addition of an infant produces big changes for a toddler, and the steps you take will foster or hinder a relationship. By providing your toddler with lots of love and attention, you can help a wonderful sibling relationship bloom.