When I found I was expecting baby girl six months after having my son I was so excited! My husband and I wanted our kids close in age in hopes they would always have a close relationship. As we approached our due date, I started to worry about how this new addition to our family would affect my son. He was 15 months old, still just a baby, and now he would be a big brother too. He was too young for me to really explain what was happening and I didn’t want him to feel replaced or not receive as much attention.
I learned a few things throughout this transition. First, don’t over think it. That’s exactly what I did before my daughter arrived. I spent days and nights stressing about what was to come, but in the end all that time spent worrying produced zero benefit. Second, I found the best way to help my son accept and connect with his new little sister was by finding things he could do to help with her care.
Helping with diaper changes (I let him hand me a diaper and wipes and throw away the old one)
Help find a pacifier
Cover baby with a blanket
Help hold bottle when feeding baby
Do tummy time together
Show baby toys and how they work
Help with bath time (I give him a small cap and let him pour water on her)
In addition to baby duties, I found allowing my son to have some of his own “responsibilities” around the house has helped him to feel included and his energy moving in a positive direction:
Feed the dogs (we have him carry a cup of food and pour it in their bowls)
Check the mail with daddy and carry it back to the house
Help mama sweep with his toy broom
Help mama clean with a water spray bottle and paper towels
These aren’t necessarily time savers for parents, but they are great ways to help engage toddlers, help them bond with new siblings, and make them feel included around the house.
Another very important factor when working with a toddler on bonding with a new sibling is remembering that they still need quality time with YOU. Not too long ago it was just you and him, your toddler had your sole attention. Now, that attention is being shared with someone else. To keep older siblings from feeling like the new baby is competition, make sure they still get that one on one time with mom and/or dad. My son loves to play outside, I try to make a point to play outside with him a few times a week in the evenings (weather permitting). Even if it‘s only 15 minutes, that exclusive time with mom makes a difference.
My son is 18 months and full of energy. The ideas I shared today are all things we do that are appropriate for his age and developmental stage. I would love to hear your ideas and tips as well! So please, if you are a mama of two under two, share your tips and tricks that you’ve found helpful for sibling bonding below in the comments section. Even if your children are older or have a larger age gap, your suggestions are still helpful and welcome! We are a community of mamas supporting each other, so please don’t hesitate to share.