Adjusting to New Siblings | Celebree School

newborn baby in maternity hospital looking at the camera

The childcare professionals at Celebree Learning Centers provide valuable tips on how to help your toddler cope when a new baby brother or sister joins the family.

The transition from only child to older sibling is often tough on toddlers. It is not uncommon for children of this age to exhibit signs of jealousy and aggression. However, there are ways to avoid drastic regression in your child’s development.

Preparing Your Toddler to be a Big Brother or Sister

  1. During your pregnancy, you will likely experience physical changes to your body that can disrupt your family’s daily routine. If your toddler gets upset because you can no longer lift him or her on your shoulders…

Do not: Say things such as, “Mommy can’t do that because she has a baby in her belly.” These types of statements may inadvertently cause your toddler to resent your new baby before he or she is born. Your toddler may think that the baby is hurting you or taking away your attention.

Do: Say, “I’m sorry I can’t lift you on my shoulders today because my back hurts.” Statements such as this remove the child’s mental connection between not doing things that you usually do and the fact that there is a new baby. This will help remove any blame that your toddler places on the new baby, for your inability to participate in certain activities.

  1. Your child may not fully understand what it means when you’re “having a baby.” It is important to give your toddler an idea of what to expect when the new baby comes, and place a positive and exciting light on it.

Do not: Tell your toddler, “The baby in mommy’s tummy will be your new playmate.” This could create false and unrealistic expectations when the baby is born. Your toddler may be disappointed when he or she realizes that the new baby can’t quite walk around and build blocks with them just yet.

Do: Let your toddler know that he or she will be playing an important role in the baby’s life. You can say, “You will be the new baby’s teacher and bodyguard.” This type of affirmation will help your child adjust to the idea of a having a younger baby around, and will help your toddler develop a sense of responsibility for their new sibling. You can help to further your toddler’s understanding of this point by sharing stories and photographs when he was a newborn, or take him to visit friends with younger babies.

  1. Once the baby arrives, there will be a lot of changes in your household. Make sure that these changes occur gradually, and much before the baby arrives.

Do not: Wait until you give birth to make the switch from a crib to a bed, or to change rooms. Give your toddler time to adjust to their new sleeping arrangements instead of overwhelming them with a big change and a new sibling at the same time.

Do: Plan for routine changes. If mommy always reads the bedtime stories, make sure that another guardian or helper starts doing so as well. Whether its having to take shorter showers or having a grandparent over to support more often, make sure that your toddler gets accustomed to these changes long before they become a standard routine.

  1. Having a new baby in the house will be a learning experience for both your toddler and your entire family. During this time, it is important to reassure your toddler that they will always have a special place in your heart.

Do not: Show frustration if your toddler tugs on your arm as you try to nurse your newborn. Instead, encourage them to join you and sing or read a book to their new sibling while you feed them.

Do: Set aside quality time alone with your toddler. Whether you need to enlist the help of grandparents or friends to watch after the newborn, or you can make time while the new baby is sleeping: set up a one-on-one date with your toddler to engage in the things that they love to do.

Introducing a new baby to the family is a transition, especially when an older sibling is involved. The new changes may initially bring about mixed feelings for your first child, but the adjustment if guided correctly, can be a positive learning experience for your entire family. For more information about this new step in life, contact Celebree Learning Centers today.