Getting Toddlers and Preschoolers to Help with Baby
When my third little girl was born, I had a three year old and one year old at the time. Fortunately, this was not my first rodeo. I wasn’t surprised by the sleepless nights or the never-ending nursing sessions. However, I now had a toddler and preschooler in addition to my newborn, and I wasn’t prepared for the juggling that would be involved as a mom of many. There are a few things I learned along the way to be sure that big sisters felt included and important, even after baby sister came along.
Give Big Kids Responsibilities
Bigger siblings want to feel important after little brother or sister comes along. While they may not be able to change diapers or feed the baby, they need to feel as though they still play a role. Having older siblings sing songs to their young sibling actually helps in baby’s cognitive development. Toddlers and preschoolers are great at making silly faces, too. You can also keep baby's things down low where they can reach so they can help you by fetching burp rags, onesies, diapers, or mom's water bottle when you're trapped under a nursling or napping baby. Using positive reinforcement encourages older siblings to play a role and help them feel important.
Special Toy Stash
When my second daughter was born, my oldest was only 21 months. I often found it hard to sit and nurse my baby when the toddler was prone to getting into things. It helped to keep a special stash of toys in a bin that we would only pull out when it was time to nurse the baby. The stash included special toys, puzzles, and books that would hold her attention. We did this with each of our babies, and it really helped keep the attention of the big siblings while Mommy sat and nursed the new baby.
Special Big-Kid Time with Mommy
Becoming a mom of multiple children had its many challenges, and one of them was splitting my time and attention. I quickly realized that it was vital for me to carve out special time just for my toddler and me. Whether it was just to read books together, or take a quick run to get ice cream, intentionally spending time with my older child really helped prevent negative feelings towards her new sibling. I really needed to remember that it was important for my older daughter to continue to feel a bond with her mommy, and those special times together really helped our relationship.
Wendy is a mother of four who lives in central Illinois where she blogs at TheMessyMom.net.