You're pregnant with your second child and are hearing horror stories about how your toddler will react. You're starting to notice different behaviours in your toddler that concern you. Your toddler who has always walked is now crawling and telling you they want to be a baby. At times he or she is so angry that hitting has now become a problem. Naturally, you speak to everyone you know and they all say it's normal and will pass, but you’re still worried.
Why is it hard for an older child to adjust to a new baby?
The arrival of a new baby can be a difficult time for parents but it can also be tough for firstborn toddlers. Acting out – with aggression (by throwing toys, screaming and having tantrums) or by regressing (acting more like a baby) can be a sign that your child is struggling to cope with how having a sibling will change the only life they’ve ever know. To most toddlers, the arrival of a new little brother or sister means they’ll now have to share their parents love & affection – something that was all theirs all along.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help ease your toddler’s anxiety.
How to prepare your toddler for the new baby:
1. Reading Them Books About Being a Big Sister or Brother
Many of these books are available from the public library. A few titles to look for include:
- Baby Born by Anastacia Suen
- My Baby Brother Has Ten Tiny Toes by Laura Leuck
- The New Baby by Fred Rogers
- Our New Baby by Wendy Cheyette Lewison
2. Having Special Activities For Just You & Your Toddler
This is something that can be done daily. Give your child a few options and let them choose the activity. It’s amazing what even just a few minutes of one-on-one time can do for a child (and their behaviour).
3. Engage Them in Preparing the Baby Room
Giving your toddler role in preparing the new baby’s room can help them feel they have an important role in welcoming the new baby.
4. Specialized Playtime Using Filial Therapy
Something that can be especially helpful in understanding your toddler’s perception of the pending arrival is specialized play time using the techniques of filial therapy twice a week for at least 10 minutes. Special play toys can be purchased at the dollar store and should only be used during the special play time. Toys include: mommy, daddy and child figurines, miniature baby bottle and stroller, bassinet, high chair and change table.
A Registered Clinical Counsellor trained in fisial therapy can instruct parents on how to do this themselves after about 4 sessions.
Do you have a new baby on the way? If the post above applies to you, be sure to check back next week for our thoughts on ‘Attachment and the arrival of the new baby’