Every little human on this planet wants their mommy and daddy all to themselves.
From being the center of attention for years to accepting a sibling who is going to be the new center of attention is a huge transition for a toddler.
During this period, the firstborn child feels a range of intense emotions. And all the crankiness and tantrums you see are just their way of coping with emotions they don’t fully understand yet.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to ease your toddler into this situation.
1. Create One-on-One Time with Your Tot
Spending some quality time alone with your firstborn on a regular basis can do absolute wonders. Look, toddlers aren’t big on sharing to begin with, especially when it comes to their parents’ attention.
They are so used to your undivided attention that the arrival of a newborn is probably making them feel insecure and unimportant. That’s totally normal. Even 15-20 minutes of your undivided attention can help them overcome those negative feelings.
There is no hard and fast rule as to what constitutes quality time with kids. You can ask them about their day, help with their homework, play softball, do the dishes or run errands together. Sometimes, your presence is all it takes for them to feel special and loved.
2. Don’t Punish Them
You might notice that your toddler is regressing or acting like a baby, doing things like thumb-sucking, asking to be bottle-fed, or wanting a diaper even though they are already potty-trained. Regression is a cry for attention, something that has been divided with the arrival of a new baby.
Instead of reprimanding or punishing them for it, try to be more understanding and patient with them. If they are taking their frustration out on the baby by snatching their toys, yelling at them, or pulling their arms, calmly tell them that they are hurting the baby. They will most likely back off.
Toddlers are actually pretty cool people with a heart of gold. They are just having a hard time accepting the change.
3. Keep Them Busy
You know what they say, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. The transition could be much easier for your firstborn if they shift their focus on productive things like taking up a new hobby or learning a skill.
Playing with interactive dolls can help them stay entertained for hours while simultaneously improving their hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, and communication skills.
If they are into books, build a cozy reading corner for them with a plush snuggle chair or build them an indoor teepee decorated with lots of fairy lights.
4. Involve Your Toddler
Another great way to help your toddler adjust to a newborn is to get them to help you take care of the baby. This will not only give them a chance to spend more time with you but emotionally connect with the baby as well.
Give them small jobs like singing lullabies or doing a little dance to entertain the baby. You can also ask them to grab the diapers, burp cloths, or choose the baby’s next outfit. Eventually, your toddler is going to start enjoying the big sibling responsibilities.
5. Explain Why the Newborn Needs Extra Attention
A newborn requires a ridiculous amount of attention. You can’t blame your firstborn for having a hard hard time wrapping their head around such a massive change. Watching the young sibling snuggled up in your arms all the time can trigger jealousy.
One effective way to head off all that anger and jealousy is to explain why newborns need to be swaddled frequently. Swaddling makes the tiny human feel snug and secure by mimicking the coziness of the mother’s womb. For better demonstration, give your toddler a nice cuddle and ask him how it feels.
Once they get the hang of it, which they will, it might get easier for them to adjust to their little sibling.
6. Come Bearing Gifts
People love showering a newborn baby with awesome gifts. It’s obviously difficult for a toddler to just sit and deal with the fact that none of these gifts are for them.
To make sure they don’t feel sidelined, surprise them with a cool big sibling gift. It’ll keep the jealousy from spiraling out of control. You can also ask for their help to open up the presents for the newborn to make them feel more involved.
If there’s anything in the pile of gifts that your newborn can’t use immediately, let your tot give it a whirl.
7. Let Them Talk and Be Heard
Adjusting to a new sibling who is effortlessly hogging all the attention can be rough. So when they are acting out of jealousy, simply ask what’s bothering them. Make sure they know that you empathize with their situation. A big bear hug, whenever they are spiraling, can go a long way.
In conclusion, not all toddlers are created equal. While some need constant reassurance, some are better off left alone doing their thing. The feeling of jealousy usually dies down once the baby grows old enough to play with their big brother or sister.
***Author: Sujana Wilson