We like to think of childhood as being a walk in the park. But when you’re little, you’ve got incredibly big feelings, without the understanding or language to process them. That makes life challenging! Especially when your parents throw a wrench into things, like bringing home a new baby, when you’re used to all the attention.
Parents expecting their second child are often given horror stories about how difficult the transition will be. Yes, figuring out how to help your child adjust to a new baby is a balancing act. But when you approach this new chapter with patience and compassion, it doesn’t have to be a struggle.
We’ve got some suggestions for great big sibling gifts below—but first, let’s explore a few tips to help your child adjust to your new baby.
Start With Emotions To Help Your Child Adjust To A New Baby
First things first. Like we said, young children have big emotions. It’s up to us as parents to help them learn how to handle those big emotions, which we do in two ways. First, our children watch us and study our own emotional reactions to things (with that ‘monkey, see, monkey do’ flavor).
And second, through listening and sharings, we can help our children understand and navigate their emotions—which are some of the most important lessons we’ll ever give them.
So before you think about big sibling gifts or about how to help your child adjust to new routines, start with their feelings. This involves two steps:
- Identity the emotions your child is feeling—and help them name their feelings
- Provide reassurance and comfort for those feelings
Of course, nothing in parenthood is quite this simple. Things will get messy. But when you start by trying to understand your child, and helping them understand themselves, you’re starting in the right place.
Create A Plan Of Action To Help Them Adjust
OK, so we know we’re going to be patient, loving, and understanding when we bring our new baby home. Now what?
Before new baby arrives, give some thought into what will work best to help your child adjust. This usually means encouraging positive behavior by praising your child when they’re gentle or helpful. Remember that toddlers especially may need extra help learning how to be soft with their baby sister or brother.
Plan to include your child as much as possible—let them help out during bath time, or have them fetch diapers. Let them help pick out clothes or tell their new sibling a story. The more involved they are, the most invested they’ll be, too.
And of course, babies are all consuming—which can understandably be quite difficult for a child used to soaking up all the attention. As much as possible, plan to carve out some one-on-one time with your older child each day, even if it’s just for a quick snuggle. A little extra love always goes a long way, especially now.
Make Them Feel Special, Too
Between baby showers and everyone clamoring to meet your new bundle, it’s not surprising that older siblings can feel a little jealous.
Yes, love and attention and kindness and extra snuggles are important. But wouldn’t you start to resent a stranger who suddenly showed up in your house and got lots of gifts and attention?
That’s why big sibling gifts are a great idea, and a simple fix that just makes sense.
In general, we like three types of big sibling gifts.
First, like we covered in our guide to gifts that celebrate diversity and inclusion, you can’t go wrong with books, especially books that help your little ones grow. Try to find books like How Big Is Baby which can help your child learn about their new sibling and get excited for their new role.
Second, this is a great time to give gifts that really make your child feel special. For example, a customized big sibling t-shirt can make them feel like a superstar again.
Protip: have a few special gifts tucked away for when company comes with gifts for the baby but none for your older child.
Finally, think about finding gifts that celebrate the special bond your children will have. That’s why we’re launching a sibling line that features a big kid with their new baby sister or brother—all personalized, of course, to bring your babies to life. Sign up for our mailing list, so you don’t miss our launch!