Second time parents may not be aware of all the challenges they will face when a new baby arrives, in particular if there is a toddler in the family. To help you effectively manage your toddler’s emotions, some very useful tips and articles are available on the Parenting website www.community.nsw.gov.au.
Being aware that the birth of a new baby is particularly stressful for children under the age of two can help you prepare to deal with your toddler’s needs more calmly. Understandably, your newborn will need a lot of attention, which can cause your toddler to feel left out and less loved.
Jealousy can creep in and lead to tantrums and change in your toddler’s behaviour. Your toddler may even show some aggressive behaviour at times.
Here are a few suggestions to help your toddler adjust:
- Let your toddler know a new baby brother or sister is coming to join the family, although do not tell them too early in the pregnancy, because to a toddler it will seem like a very long time to wait.
- Involve your toddler in planning for the baby by helping to choose baby clothes or toys.
- Keep activities with your toddler positive, help your toddler feel secure and loved.
- Toddlers learn from actions, such as hugs, loving cuddles and smiles.
- Give your little boy or girl toddler a doll to cuddle and hug. Teach them to treat the doll as their own ‘baby’, this will help them adjust. They will love copying the sort of preparations they see you doing for the real baby.
- Ensure you have some special activities for the toddler to do while you are feeding the newborn, such as having a doll they can feed, tell them a story or watch a video together.
- Arrange new and interesting places and things for them to play with, such as a cubby under a table or a cardboard box arranged like a tunnel to crawl through, lots of cushions to roll around etc.
Remaining calm and teaching by example is very important. Being a calm parent will have many rewards. Get informed about Hypnobirthing, it is reported to help with remaining more calm during pregnancy, birth and settling into routine with your newborn baby at home.
Written by Katherine Ferris.
This article originally appeared in the Wellbeing column of the of the July 2006 issue of the The Glenorian Gazette.