Adding a new member to the family is an exciting and exhausting time for everyone. Strong emotions will surface during this time of growth for a family. Let's focus on how to help your preschooler make the adjustment in as positive a way as possible, knowing that there will be difficult days for everyone but there is nothing like bonding with a sibling.
It is important to let your preschooler know what the baby will be like ahead of time. Many children expect a playmate and are disappointed. Your child needs to know that in the beginning the baby will just need love and will enjoying hearing their sibling's voice. Children generally enjoy having their own baby doll so they can parent too, and feel included.
Make sure your child's expectations are appropriate.
“The baby will sleep a lot.”
“The baby will cry because he can’t talk yet so this is how we know the baby needs something.”
“We have to be very gentle with the baby.”
How can your preschooler help? This varies depending on age, ability, and temperament. Be sure not to ask too much of a young child, but most children like to feel they are really helping. Can your child get clean diapers for you? Can your child help with making up the bed or crib? Can your child pick out a toy for the baby?
Usually the biggest change in family life is how much time it takes to care for a new baby. This means your preschooler will not get the same attention they're used to getting. It helps to prepare your preschooler ahead of time and include your child in as much of the baby care as possible. Getting your child used to big kid craft time on their own or other creative play is helpful. There are so many things she can do that the baby cannot do!
Regressions are not unusual at this time. Your preschooler may push limits, get angry, or have toileting issues. It’s important to listen to your child and hear concerns and fears. Here’s the hard part when you’re exhausted, be as calm and even keeled as possible. Keep life as consistent as possible (not that you always can with a baby in the house.) Be easy on yourself and your child. This is generally a short phase. As long as everyone is fed, gets some sleep, and feels loved all will be well in the long run.
Here’s some ideas and guidance for now…