How should I introduce my child to their new sibling?
This is one of the most common questions parents have when expecting another baby. It gets easier when there are already siblings in the family, but it can be a bit trickier if there’s been an only child to take care of so far.
Consider yourself in the shoes of an only child. You’ve been the center of attention for your entire life. You have your parents, grandparents, and other relatives wrapped around your adorable fingers and at your every beck and call. You start to think you’re the center of the universe, and how could you not?
And then, one day, everything changes. You’re no longer an only child. There is another baby–a new baby–on the way. Where does that leave you then? It’s not too far-fetched that an only child would think and feel this way. That is why you really should be careful and gentle when introducing your toddler to a new sibling.
Here are a few simple tips that can help you break the ice between the new siblings.
Include, Don’t Replace
When you come into the house holding a new baby in your arms, your toddler can only understand the visual of it as you have another baby in your arms. That should have been their place, but it no longer is.
It might be better to take on a neutral position to soften the blow, such as carrying the baby in a bassinet or stroller. This way, the new baby is immediately accessible to them because it is closer to their height and not up there with you in a position of authority, right in your arms.
Let your toddler come closer on their own time. Do not force them, because they are dealing with emotions that may be too big and complex for them to process. Be encouraging, not insistent.
Don’t Switch to Big Kid Language Immediately
It would be good to let them know clearly their role in the new baby’s life, that they are their new big brother or sister. However, it is still important to reassure them that although that may be the case, they will still remain to be your baby as well.
Their upgrade in role only applies to their relationship with the baby for now. So don’t be in a hurry to drop the sweet baby speak with them, so they don’t feel rejected or discarded.
Let them Warm Up to Each Other Gently
Express it clearly that you are happy with both of them around, and how much of a big help your toddler would be to you if he “takes care” of the baby too. This keeps them feeling involved and a part of your everyday routine.
Let them warm up to each other gently. Remind your toddler of how important they are to the baby, and how much fun it would be when they can start playing together soon.
With gentle nudging and constant reassurance that they are not being displaced or replaced in the family, your toddler can soon be the doting older sibling you want for your baby.