Toddlers love to be useful (ahem, not sure if useful is the right word!) When baby arrives, it’s a great idea to get them to ‘help’ with the baby, passing cotton wool balls, or clothes, something small that gives them a sense that they are contributing. That you’re doing things together. When my twins were big enough to sit in the bath I used to get their older brother to ‘help’ them (even though they didn’t need it.) He felt very grown up!
Before our second appeared we spent lots of time reading stories about being a big sister and talking about the baby. Pook picked out a toy mouse at the shop for the baby because “babies need a Mummy, a Daddy and a mouse.” She then got to give this to the new baby and the new baby gave her a big girl present. When Pook saw the baby for the first she proudly told her she was her big sister.
We did a lot of talking about the new baby …beforehand…and covered everything from how babies grow in utero and how they are born to what baby would be doing on a daily basis. We also read lots of baby books (positive ones), and got my toddler excited about his sleepover at the grandparents’ house while we were at the hospital. Also, I prepared some “big brother” busy bags for if he got lonely. Once we were home with baby, there were lots of ways for my son to be a big helper. He could get diapers, fetch/empty the potty (we do EC), find books for us to read all together. Whenever I was nursing baby, I invited my toddler to join us for a snuggle or a story. Also, we tried to keep positive about warnings to be gentle and the like.
We have tried to “divide” our time and my husband has spent a lot more time with older daughter, taking her to the movies, hiking, on the pool, etc. We tried to not set limitations for her because little sister couldn’t do it. I have also tried to spend some alone time with her each day, making sure she doesn’t feel like she’s less important now for me, as a mother. Still, allowing older kids to help with their little siblings helps a lot, as other mothers have mentioned.
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