When you're the parent of a brand new baby, everything changes. The first time around everything was new, but with subsequent kids, life seems to settle into a groove just a little bit quicker-at least for you. Your toddler, however, may not be as enthralled with the new arrival as you are and adjusting may be a bumpy road. While he may have been excited while you were pregnant at the idea of a new brother or sister, that may change as soon as the baby arrives.
Sibling rivalry is a common occurrence that starts at the birth of the newest baby. It can range from barely noticeable to hard to ignore. Toddlers don't handle change well, and a new baby is a lot of change. Your time and attention are no longer all his. Schedules are different. There are new noises, new rules and new expectations too. It's a lot for a toddler to take in. How can you help?
Toddlers love having a job to do and they like to feel like "big kids." If your little one is struggling with the arrival of a new baby, give her some things to do to help out. She can fetch diapers or wipes, choose outfits or socks, rub the baby's back or sing a song. You can even ask the toddler to "help" you hold the baby, with your supervision, of course.
Kids tend to think of a new baby as an inconvenience. However, you can be instrumental in helping your child think of a new baby as a great gift. Some parents give toddlers presents "from the baby." Others reward their toddler for being patient while the baby gets attention. If your child is young, don't worry about the idea of bribery. If that's what it takes for your child to be more excited about all the fun things associated with the new baby, it's okay. In the long run, the important thing is that your child associates the baby with happy times and good things.
One of the main reasons toddlers and young children resent a new baby is because they are used to being the center of attention. Once a new baby comes, the attention they need can be overwhelming for parents. To a young child, it's unacceptable. Even though you're exhausted, hormonal and have no time to yourself, don't allow your child to fall through the cracks. Set up 'date' nights and do something special to spend time with your child. Get them out of the house if you can or, if you stay in, make your date time away from the baby. Schedule it for when the baby is being cared for by someone else, or when she is sleeping, so your child has your full attention.
Having a new baby means a new 'normal' for everyone. However, work to keep things as regular as possible for your child; it's worth the effort. If your child struggles with jealousy, don't use his favorite blanket for the new baby. Avoid letting the new baby overtake things that your child considers "his" without permission. Work to keep routines you had before. Gradually, you can start to introduce the idea of sharing, but it won't happen overnight. Be patient with your child as he adjusts to a new baby. It's a major change for him as well as for you.