Learning how to share is one of the biggest challenges for toddlers and young children (and let's face it, some adults). Although the big bro or big sis-to-be may initially be excited about the idea of a new baby in the home, when the baby arrives, it ends up meaning a lot of sharing—and that can be a hard adjustment. Even if an older sibling is comfortable with the idea of sharing their toys, sharing their parents’ time and affection can be a harder thing.
Read on for some ways to ease the transition to big brother or sister for your child.
Carve Out Special Time to Spend with Your Older Child
This should be done in the weeks before the birth of your new baby and once the new baby is born. It doesn't have to be a full day, but even taking 30 minutes to watch an episode of Peppa Pig and have a snack and chat with your older child will go a long way in easing any jealousy or feelings of lack of attention. As the baby gets older, you may want to extend the time of these outings with the older child. Go for lunch, to the park, or any other activities your child loves.
Find Ways to Include Them in Baby's Bedtime Routine
Most toddlers and young kids crave independence and love feeling grown-up. They might love playing “mom” or “dad” themselves with a baby doll. Now that your child has a real life baby at home, get them on board with helping out where they can.
A good place to start is bedtime. Depending on their age, your older child can bring you diapers or a bottle, pick out the baby's pajamas, brush baby's hair, look at books with them, and even help you swaddle the baby. Show your older child how you swaddle the baby and have them practice swaddling on their baby doll. When your baby is transitioning from a swaddle, your older child can help you by bringing the Magic Sleepsuit to you, and helping zip it up.
Have them Help During "Tummy Time"
One thing about toddlers and young children is that they often have seemingly boundless energy. Have them use that charm, silliness and energy to keep baby entertained so that your infant can get their tummy time in. Big bro or sis will be there to keep baby engaged and distracted while baby is working on building muscles. Remember, it’s important that you stay in the room and supervise both of them.
Focus on Praising Good Behavior
It can be easy to get frustrated if your child starts to go through a regression when a baby is born. One of the best ways to focus your teaching as they’re getting their skills back is to encourage good behavior by praising it when it happens. Try giving your older child small age-appropriate jobs and responsibilities. Make sure you praise them when they do a great job at being helpful. You want your older child to feel as if they are on your team to take care of the baby, rather than them being in competition with the baby for attention.
It's normal for your child to act out some or regress in abilities they've already mastered when their new sibling comes home. Be patient with them, recognize why they are acting out and talk to them about it, and most importantly, show them love. Remember, this is a huge change in their lives, so the more patience and love you can pour on them, the easier the adjustment will be.
Set Them Up for Success in Sleeping Better on Their Own
There is no better motivation to get a toddler sleeping in their own bed and through the night than a new baby. If the toddler sleeps in your bed, it's going to interrupt your sleep, and the crying baby can interrupt the toddler's sleep, too. Avoid this vicious cycle by having your toddler sleep soundly in their own room. If your child is 18 months and younger, we recommend using a baby sleep sack to help them feel comfortable as they snuggle up with soothing, soft fabrics.
For more options to keep your babies and toddlers snuggly and sleeping through the night, check out our complete Magic Sleep System line.