One of the biggest differences between my first pregnancy and my second pregnancy was my anxiety over how my first born was going to react and handle a new baby. I mean we all hope for sunshine and rainbows and that they’ll be bffs; but the reality is there is a good chance that is not going to happen. Not only is it a struggle for a 2 year old to understand the idea of pregnancy and a new baby, but they’ve never had to share their mom before. We have an additional hurdle with Harrison’s ASD diagnosis and his inability to communicate at an age appropriate level. Let’s just say he wasn’t thrilled when he met his new sister 🤣🤦♀️
- Help them become friends before birth. Involve them with the pregnancy as much as you can! Look at ultrasound photos together. Encourage them to touch your baby bump, talk and sing to the baby and feel the baby kick. Take them with you to prenatal appointments to hear the baby’s heartbeat. This can help your child see his or her new sibling as a real person and, hopefully, a future friend.
- Make your child the center of attention. If you’re worried that your child will feel threatened or replaced by the new baby, consider putting your newborn down when your child arrives. That way you can really focus your attention on your older child and making sure he or she feels comfortable and loved.
- Have the new baby “give” a present to your older child. You’ve likely heard this suggestion before and there’s a reason for it — it really works! Again, it’s another simple way to help your child see the new baby as a real, live person and — even better — someone who likes to give gifts.
- Give them a job to do. Look for small ways to involve your older child in caring for your newborn. What are some of those ways? He or she can show the baby a toy, sing a lullaby during fussy times and maybe even throw away a dirty diaper or help with feeding (depending, of course, on the age of your older child). Giving your older child a job to do can go a long way toward helping him or her feel a part of the changes instead of left out.
- Let it happen naturally. At 2 years old, toddlers may not understand everything about a new baby and in a lot of ways, it made sense to let the transition unfold organically. Harrison is a very snugly little boy, so whenever I’m feeding the new baby I let him snuggle up next to us and whisper “easy with the baby” – and it’s totally been working!
- Carve out alone time. I make sure that after dinner every night, my husband stays with the baby and I take our toddler upstairs for bath and bed time. That way he knows he still has is own time with his mom every single day 💖