Your new baby has arrived on the scene and your toddler is understandably wide-eyed and eager to help. Or, your toddler could be ignoring the newborn entirely, preferring to take a wait-and-see approach until they’re sure that baby is here to stay. Whether your toddler is ready to dive into siblinghood or waiting on the sidelines for now, they’ll look for guidance from you. They’re probably wondering how babies work. Are they simply miniature versions of big kids? What can you do with a newborn brother or sister anyway?
The best way to teach a toddler about babies is by being hands-on.
How to Introduce Your Toddler to Your New Baby
Start out by sitting on the floor with your toddler and the baby (so you won’t have to worry about anyone tumbling off a couch or a bed). Point out the baby’s eyes, ears, fingers, and toes—everything that a toddler is likely to find fascinating. Your toddler will no doubt want to point out his eyes, ears, fingers, and toes, too.
Then, show your toddler how to hold a baby. You may find it works best if you sit your toddler across from you on the floor and help them to support the baby on his lap. Show your toddler how to gently caress an infant, making soft, slow motions. (You can model the motions and then try guiding their hand.)
Next, place the baby back on the floor and talk about the ways big siblings can help with a baby: by choosing a clean outfit before a diaper change, by choosing a toy from a bin of baby toys, by singing a lullaby, by sharing a book with the baby.
Be sure to let your toddler know that it’s normal for infants to wake up in the middle of the night: that he doesn’t have to hop out of bed or worry if he hears them crying for a moment or two. Babies wake up in the night because they have very small stomachs and they need to eat more often than children and adults with larger stomachs. The baby will nurse and then go back to sleep.
Finally, don’t forget to talk to your toddler about all the ways the two of you can have fun while their new sibling is nursing or napping. You don’t want your toddler to feel like it’s going to be all work and no play around here from now on.
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