My previous post discussed all the things I did to help Little One (my toddler) prepare for a baby coming. In this short-er post I will discuss things that I felt helped Little One get used to her role as a big sister in the early days after baby arrived.
Choose your words wisely.
Becoming an older sibling will inevitably mean that your child will not have that undivided attention that they once did. Naturally, and as toddlers and new babies can be quite demanding, each child is going to have to learn the skill of patience. It is so easy to slip into the habit of blaming (but not intentionally) the younger child. “I just need to do this for baby and then I will…” but actually we need to be saying it to both children so that the older child in particular realises that they both have to wait. “Baby, I just need to help your big sister get changed, I’ll be a few minutes.” Doing this from the start has really helped Little One understand that regardless of their ages, each of them may need mamma and dadda at different times in they day which may mean one of them has to wait.
Many people suggested that I buy Little One a doll which she could look after whilst I took care of her baby sister. My friends actually bought a doll for Little One as a ‘big sister’ gift and she still absolutely loves it. Prior to me giving birth Little One did play with dolls but I find with this particular doll it’s a little bit more special than the rest. I find she mirrors what I do with her sister a lot with her baby, changing her, feeding her and even the way she talks to her, you know in that “Ah cooshy coo” kinda way. It’s very sweet to see.
Including big sister in all activities.
Including the older child in things that you need to complete for baby will really help. Little One really enjoys helping bath her sister and being mamma’s great helper when she doesn’t have enough nappies or can’t find the burp cloth. Including your child in these small activities will, in my opinion, make them feel a lot more part of the big change that has happened in their lives.
Little One and I would do lots of things across the week whilst I was pregnant and I was keen for that to carry on whilst I had hubby at home. It gave an opportunity for Little One to have some one to one attention and also for mamma to catch up on sleep, ha. It also meant that Little One’s routine of attending playgroup and things continued. I also tried to make sure Little One and I would have time during the day when it was just us. So while dadda would have time with baby we would bake cakes, paint together and just have mamma daughter time.
On an evening, more so in the very early days, (once dadda had returned to work) I would prepare an activity for Little One to complete the next day, after breakfast. Anything from drawing, play dough, a jigsaw. I would make sure she was still strapped in her high chair and would have the activity ready at the dining table. This was then the perfect opportunity for me to then have my breakfast or run to the bathroom, as baby would often have a long sleep during that time.
You may find that when baby arrives your older child might behave differently. Toddlers are renowned for their tantrums but it is important for us to remain calm. I know that sometimes it is easier said then done but once they are less prickly explain to them gently why it was wrong. Also, praise praise and more praise. Celebrate that they are a big sibling and no matter how big or small, praise their good actions and behaviour. Little One gets so happy when we involve baby in praising her too. For example, if she follows an instruction or makes me giggle, we get baby to give her a high-five, she loves it!
Perhaps there are things I’ve discussed in this post that you also did when your child became a sibling. I’m sure you will all agree as time goes on it does get easier and seeing a bond between siblings blossom is beautiful.