When the precious time comes for your toddler to meet your new baby, within reason, stand back and allow them to take the lead. Allow time for your children to have an authentic meeting and as much as possible try not to control the situation. This is the letting go part!
Understand Your Child’s Unique Temperament
As we know each child has their own unique temperament. Some toddlers are easy going and quite dismissive of the baby. You may find yourself disappointed that they do not seem interested in their sibling. Be okay with big feelings! They may even be your own! It may be the parents’ decision to have another baby, but it wasn’t the child’s choice. So, it may be difficult for some toddlers to be okay with the change, and that's okay. Try to normalize the whole experience and accept his or her feelings, even if they are negative or unanticipated from your side. By not putting pressure on your toddler to react, feel or behave in a certain way helps the child to accept their new sibling in the timing that best suits them. In this way your toddler will adjust the way that he or she needs to.
Do Not Project Your Own Feelings Onto Your Toddler
This may include telling your toddler to hug, kiss or say they love their new sibling. Let your toddler do what feels right for them. This will open a conversation on the boundaries of safety and how to be gentle, or certain places that are best not to touch on the baby, for example the eyes and fontanelle etc.
A popular idea in recent times is for the baby to buy a gift for the toddler. You need to do what is right for your family but think through all possible reactions. If your toddler doesn’t like the gift this may cause an unnecessary rift to a new relationship.
One-On-One Quality Time
Special time is another beautiful transition idea, our family still uses. Set a time where each parent spends one-on-one quality time with the toddler (then each child as they get older) doing an activity of their choice. This is where an extra set of hands is great if one parent returns to work, especially during the first few weeks after bringing the baby home. That one-on-one time is so important for your toddler to know that you value time with them and to continue to develop your own unique relationship with them. If they demand your attention during feeding or nappy changing times, gently reassure them that after you are finished you are so looking forward to spending some special time together. They might like to go and get set up while you are finishing.
There may be plenty of exciting challenges and changes ahead, however the one thing to reiterate with your toddler is that your love for them will never change! I hope you can plan and prepare for what best suits your unique family, then let go and enjoy the blessings of this precious season.
Author: Cindy Bray